I recently had the opportunity to attend a Steven Curtis Chapman concert at Busch Gardens as the finale for their Glory in the Gardens summer concert series. I even got to be in the VIP section because my Ambassador Blogger agreement with Busch Gardens has unexpected perks like that. I’ve never really been a big concertgoer. Actually, this year I’ve been to more concerts than ever before—that being three concerts. Yeah…I know. I have been to a concert for a Christian artist (Mandesa and MercyMe last year for work events), but my experience at the Steven Curtis Chapman concert was significantly different than anything I had ever participated in. I say “participated” because it wasn’t just a passive “listen to the music and smile and clap and dance because you enjoy it,” but rather, it was a worship service in the middle of a secular theme park with people screaming on roller coasters just feet away.
Near the end of the concert as we (the audience) were singing and clapping along (in the pouring rain I might add), Steven Curtis Chapman yelled “Sing it Church!” It was at that point that the magic of the moment was broken for me. I suddenly thought, “He can’t say that. This isn’t a church. This is an amusement park that has no direct religious affiliation.” I figured for a moment that he’d simply forgotten what kind of audience he was performing for.
But then, I thought more, and no…
No, he hadn’t forgotten where he was or who he was singing for. He was singing for God. And so were we. And THAT, that is what makes a church. In that moment, singing in the rain and raising our hands in praise to God, we were a church.
That experience reminded me that the Church isn’t a building or a gathering on Sunday mornings with other professed Christians. Sometimes those experiences can actually be the least church like moments in comparison. A Church is anywhere a group of people is gathered to worship and learn about God, to expand their faith, to pray together, to believe in wholeheartedness.
That particular night in Busch Gardens with the rain pouring down and people screaming their lungs out on roller coasters right next door was one that felt more like a Church than I had felt in a long time. It’s not that my Sunday morning worship services are not Godly or “Church-like,” but I help lead those services which for me means a lot of pouring out and I’ve found recently, not so much being filled back up.
I think over the past year or so Church has become for me a struggle in terms of spiritual motivation. I’ve been craving that “refilling of my cup” but haven’t found an effective place or way of doing so. But that concert and Steven Curtis Chapman’s simple “Sing it Church!” reminded me that I don’t need to be in “church-Church” to have my cup refilled. Maybe that’s not even the place that will be able to effectively do it for me because of the particular roles I play there. It reminded me that Church can be anywhere, with anyone as long as God is the central focus. That night I participated in a beautiful worship service without even realizing it that filled and fired me up. I thought I was just going to a concert at a theme park but in actuality I was being taught and reminded of a valuable lesson about faith, Christianity, God, and the Church—God is everywhere, you just have to open your eyes to see Him.