Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Festival Generation

This generation worships in festivals. It goes to yearly Icthus or Soulfest for music and teaching; short-term missions are festivals of service; denominations and church camps have weekend or week-long gatherings. They like festivals. In the current culture, you can get people to commit to 3-6 days twice a year more easily than to every Wednesday evening for something.

It is hardly surprising. This is the generation that went to Disneyworld and Universal Studios, had 100 channels on the TV, went to the Mall - including the food court.

It is an ancient model, and not to be despised. The boomer generation may have given it a shove forward, from Woodstock to the hundreds of national conventions, but most cultures have their round of festivals every year. The Israelites had feasts and fasts to teach meaning, the liturgical churches had the church calendar, with each country dressing it up with its own saints days, the Methodists had camp meeting, the Baptists had periodic revivals.

For people like me there is the weekly schedule of Sabbath worship - frequent, familiar, the plain bread and wine of Christian nourishment. I am not a festival kind of guy. Crowds give me a headache. The Church has always had both modes running at once, meeting the needs of different sorts of people, I suppose.

You would think that some Emerging Church or other group looking for new models of worship would take this and run with it. The previously religious holidays that have gone secular - St. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, All Saints Day - could perhaps be recaptured and respun. Retreats could be reworked and used as before as counterpoint to noisier celebrations. It would be a great way for churches to work separately but cooperatively, inviting each other over for events.

I'm on worship committee, so the expectation would be that I would become a mover in this area. No way. Do I have to do everything for you guys? Here I've given you a church model that should work for several decades and you want more?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun, uh, which is the point, hmmmm.
It's a different way to think about what I hope will be yearly trips to Rwanda.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I don't know what you will do in Rwanda, but in Romania what I did over two weeks each time was quite varied. We did medical clinic, rocked babies, ran VBS, visited the orphanage, worshiped with village churches, went on agape runs delivering food and clothing, consulted on neuro and attachment disorder at another orphanage, and contributed heavily to the local economy and churches. A festival of service.

I got two sons out of it, too. A bargain.

Anonymous said...

I have a Romanian friend who goes back every few years to visit family and then work with street children.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I recommend lelia's link.