The Smell Of Old in Worship?

Two times a year – the ladies in our church host the semi-annual rummage sale.  It’s a big deal.  The day before the event, scads of people – both from the church and community -unload trucks, cars and trailers creating an endless mound of stuff that is then lovingly and carefully separated and sorted into piles upon piles of treasure.  The team turns the Family Life Center into a 6,600 square foot clearinghouse of “one man’s junk” into “another man’s treasure.”  The day of the event the lines are out the door and the ladies ministry in the church usually profits in the thousands, which they then use for mission and ministry around town and around the world!

But, there is always a smell.  It’s the smell of old.  Outdated.  Unwanted.  The smell that begins to surface when something has been used a lot, then set aside for a time.  Of course, I’m grateful for the ministry of the ladies in our church – don’t get my wrong.  But the smell lingers in that room on Sunday – the same room where worship is held.

And it causes me to ask the question, what smell does our worship have on regular basis?  I’m not talking about the physical room – though, that’s important too.  I’m asking the question based on the creativity, freshness, spirit led worship.  Is it the smell of old or new?

Two verses comes to mind:

2 Cor 2:15: For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Matt 9:17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

There are a few problems with the smell of old:

1)  You don’t notice after the first few minutes.  That’s scary if we are trying to reach new people.  The regulars are used to it.  Most of us don’t really smell the smell in our own houses, even though there is one.  In the sense of worship, music, flow, and creativity, people just get used to the same old stuff – too easily.

2)  You would hate to say anything about the smell to anyone.  Much like a particular smell in a person’s home, you just wouldn’t normally come out and say something.

3)  It’s not fresh.  There isn’t the feeling of freshness in the service.  It’s almost like someone said, “let’s just do what we did last year to save time.”

New doesn’t answer all the questions either, but here are some thoughts:

1)  People will sniff something new more closely – new cars, new blankets, new paint (even though it’s not that great) – people will breathe deeply.  You will hear them audibly sniffing the nice new thing.

2) New smells are attractive – In worship, as we offer a fresh fragrance, more people are attracted to it.

3)  People often try to get old things to smell new – There’s nothing wrong tradition, but there might be something you can do to build on it, increase the impact, make it more attractive to people.

One final thought to finish this little analogy. Most everything at the rummage sale is purchased and taken by customers from far and wide…  so, in a sense, it’s new again!

That’s my prayer for our worship ministries!  For the old to become new.  For old songs to breathe new life to people.  That we can make the needed changes so the message of Christ might be new in the hearts of worshippers?

It takes a lot of work, but it will be worth it!  How do you keep things new?


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