Christian Worship as a Path to Flourishing

Rev. Cliff WarnerCliffNotes, Frontpage News

Today’s CliffNotes is a guest post by our Worship Pastor, Wes Crawford.

I have enjoyed reading Andy Crouch’s book Strong & Weak with you during Lent, and the book has provoked for me a multitude of thoughts about what it means to flourish in various arenas. For those who haven’t yet seen Crouch’s framework, he lays out a 2X2 chart with two axes: authority (which he defines as “capacity for meaningful action”) and vulnerability (“exposure to meaningful risk”), and his thesis is that true flourishing is a combination of high authority and high vulnerability. What might this mean for our gathered worship?

Christian worship invites us to consciously enter into the presence of the one “to [whom] all hearts are open, all desires known, and from [whom] no secrets are hid.” It invites us to lay down all our self-salvation strategies of wealth, status, accomplishments, and even distraction, and to be honest before God about who we are and what we have done. It invites us to be honest with God about our disappointment and disillusionment with how things are and our fears about how things might turn out. It invites us to come to the same table with all who will come, to quit pretending before our brothers and sisters, to lay down grudges, and to approach others with a posture of self-giving rather than manipulation or exploitation. All of this situates us in a trajectory of meaningful risk.

At the same time, in Christian worship we consciously gather in the presence of the living God: the Father who knows us and who hears our prayers; the Son who opened the way for us to boldly approach the throne of grace and who shepherds us in worship; and the Holy Spirit who comforts us, convicts us of sin, and leads us, and who intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray. Friends, for sinners like us to have such confident access to the transforming presence of the living God is the very essence of what it means to have the capacity for meaningful action.

I look forward to leading you in risking our hearts before the Triune God and each other, drawing near and engaging his presence in this community by whom I have already been ministered to so much.   —Wes