Form Dependent

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     October 31, 2012


I’ve coached a few basketball players over the years who have terrible shooting form, so I spend a lot of time trying to correct it!

Balance. Feet shoulder width apart and knees bent


Elbows in.

Follow through.

I’ve had a few players, however, who have been decent shooters with flawed form, and when I have corrected them they have become poor shooters with great form. In essence, they become more concerned about their form than making the shot.

They start asking questions like “How did that look? Were my feet okay? How was my follow through?”

Questions that seem to miss the point that their shot created a crack in the backboard. They threw up a brick, but they had perfect form.

Sometimes I think we’re like that in the worshiping community of the church. We’re hypnotized by the form and miss the Presence.

Did we say enough prayers, sing enough hymns, raise our hands enough in praise, have a long enough sermon (or maybe a short enough sermon!)? Was the service orderly and controlled? Did the pastor may the right words at the distribution of the communion elements? Was he well-dressed and eloquent?

Most of us would probably say that our worship services aren’t about the form, but about worshiping in the presence of our Lord. That may very well be! The test is to have a worship gathering where everything doesn’t go according to the plan.

A crying baby is kept in the service and sometimes to bawl.

An elderly man falls over in the pew and has to be resuscitated.

Someone forgets to put bread on the communion plates.

The sound system goes dead.

A little girl keeps flashing the congregation during the children’s story.

The offering plate gets dumped in the midst of the main aisle.

A soloist loses her voice.

You can tell if a congregation worships the form or the presence when something unplanned trumps the plan; when a dose of grace is required to go on because a young man has just stood up as the pastor has ended his prayer, and openly admitted that he is an alcoholic.

Moments of uncomfortable truth when we have to put the form on the shelf and trust in the leading of the Spirit are revealing of a church’s heart.

Don’t misunderstand me. We worship “form” in various aspects of ministry. Try replacing Sunday morning donut time with healthy bran muffins. The possibility of a riot will go up exponentially if you try it more than one Sunday in a row. In the Baptist tradition changing a light bulb unexpectedly might cause a letter-writing campaign. In some churches using a different version of the Bible than the congregation culture is used to could cause facial spasms to begin.

So form takes different forms. Form is a route to a destination, but, as I’ve found out in flying back to southern Ohio to see my parents, there’s more than one way to reach it. Sometimes my route takes me from Colorado Springs to Houston to Charlotte to Huntington, West Virginia. Sometimes I go by car to Denver, and then fly to Columbus, where I pick up my rental car and head south. And sometimes…well, hopefully just one time…I get stuck where I am (Hurricane Sandy ripple effects) and never am able to leave my point of origin.

There’s been a few worship gatherings like that. No matter the form, no matter the liturgy, mo matter the planning…the plane just never seems to get off the ground…and we know it.

I still teach my players the fundamentals of shooting, the perfect form, but realize that prayers get answered not necessarily because the knees were properly bent.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christianity, Community, Faith, Grace, Pastor, Prayer, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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