Thoughts From the Lake 1 by Dave Cornelius

(What is your identity?)

This week I have been at the Fellowship Music and Worship Arts conference at Lake Junaluska. It has been a great experience meeting new folks who do what I do; reconnecting with musical parts of me that had gone dormant and enjoying the wonder of creation in a beautiful setting.

The theme of the conference is Spirit of Wonder so I suppose it is appropriate that I have been doing a lot of wondering while I have been wandering.

As I talked with fellow musicians of diverse styles there has been quite a lot of conversation about worship styles and music. Curiously I am not sure many folks are leading their congregations based on their congregations and communities they hope to reach.

This became quite evident as I explained that like many churches we are a church in transition struggling to embrace or develop a new identity. I mentioned that as far as I could tell the church before I came had been pretty “high church” and that seemed to be changing.

His well-meaning comment was, “Oh that’s too bad.” I paused for a moment and asked why. Strangely he was unable to provide an answer of any substance.

That got me thinking that our growth as a church and congregation is a lot like our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth.

If we remain as we were physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually we stagnate and die. It is one of those immutable laws of nature.

We were built to grow, learn, develop and change. In fact, “The only thing on earth that is constant is change.”

Logically that begs the question why are we so resistant to change in our styles of worship?

Why are we so emotionally tied to songs that are un-singable, facilities that have deteriorated, genres no longer relevant, clothing that is out of fashion or reputations long tarnished?

Who we are as a church is defined by our quality of worship and the way we treat others.

Our worship is only dependent upon the condition of a humble heart totally committed to extravagant and unrelenting devotion and service to God. Without that, songs don’t matter, liturgy is pointless, denominations fracture, buildings tumble, clothing tatters and memories fade away.

Only our spiritual identity is eternal and it is determined by who we say Jesus is and what we individually decide to do about it.