Once upon a time there lived a church minister named Marty who was faced with a critical problem of survival. Church attendance was way down. So all his helpful services in the community and pastoral care efforts were becoming financially threatened. He and his church were going broke. He needed to find a new way to bring people back to his church.
Marty had tried everything. He allowed various groups and organizations to use his facilities for their meetings. He had made himself well known throughout the community—to its leaders, law enforcement officials, rescue services, hospital and social workers. He promoted the arts and brought in local artists to display and sell their work, even dancers, musicians and actors to perform for the community.
All these efforts had produced short-lived results for his church-building efforts. He needed to get more “butts in pews.” But even Marty began to feel that his church service and liturgy had become static. How could he make Sunday worship more dynamic and penetrating to a world that was changing its focus?
Completely out of ideas, Marty began to pray to God for guidance.
Suddenly, an angel dressed in clothing of glowing light, appeared in the room. “Your prayers have been answered,” said the beautiful angel. “I am here to offer you ideas of how to take your worship service to a new level. The Lord God has permitted me to take you to heaven and show you how angels worship.”
Before Marty could react, the angel reached into his very spirit and escorted him through a spiraling pathway. Marty felt that he was somehow being taken through deeper levels of his brain and mind—levels that he was previously unaware of.
Marty and the angel came to a stop as a whole new world opened up to them. “This is heaven,” said the angel, “and over there is a special church were angels worship the Lord. Follow me.”
Marty’s spirit and the angel both went inside the heavenly church and took their seats. As the heavenly service started Marty recognized many aspects of their liturgy that were similar to his own on earth, but everything produced an entirely different effect on his heart and mind. He was able to distill deeper meaning from all the rituals. It was as though God’s Infinite Wisdom was being displayed through the sitting, kneeling, standing and singing. Amazingly, when the “angelic” minister who performed the service moved from the left side of the altar to the right, Marty perceived his own consciousness shift from his heart to his intellect. He felt that he was experiencing a new reality in the form of a divinely organic process. Somehow, the angelic worship service made him feel like he was experiencing the Creation Story in Genesis in a most intimate and personal way.
“Every part of the liturgy here is designed to instruct the worshipper about how we are to form a true relationship with the Lord God and how we are to proceed in obtaining spiritual growth and eternal happiness,” explained the angel. “When I return you back to the physical world you will know how to make your church more dynamic and infinitely more relevant. You must break away from the ecclesiastical crowd. Every part of your liturgy must now be designed in a way that instructs and elevates the mind of the worshipper. Every ritual must become a profound way for the worshipper to get a “visceral” grasp of deeper spiritual knowledge. Church growth must be tied to spiritual growth. This is how your church will grow and prosper and be more useful to the world.”
The angel then looked straight into Marty’s eyes. “Are you ready to make the attempt?”