As I was sitting in church this morning listening to a sermon on the Throne of God and "true worship," I began to think about stages. I'm not talking about the stages of life but actual, physical stages that we erect to put on shows. I'm beginning to think that stages are perhaps not a good thing for a church to have for a worship service.
In my mind, I pictured a stage and thought of the concept of the "Audience of One," meaning God is the audience or receiver fo the praise we focus toward Him. My first image was of a church with band and preacher on stage and congregation seated below. Where was the praise focused? Toward the stage. Now, consider a shift. Let's put everyone down on the floor and picture God on the stage. At least now we can focus the praise where it belongs. (I know God is not on stage but neither is He physically up in the air where many focus their attention during worship...that's an issue for another time.)
Then I began to think of the early church. They met in homes. They had no stages. They had no bands. They had no fancy preachers in modern attire. More than likely, they sat in a circle or stood around and had whatever type of service one has in the early days of churchdom. The key element here is that they were all at one physical level. No one seemingly better than another. No one put on a pedestal to be worshipped. Just folk sitting around praising God.
I do know, from past experience, that this can be a problem. I led a worship team in a church that met in a school with a procenium type stage. Many times we were accused of being divas and attention mongers, which wasn't the case at all. The physical environment caused this assumption. A few years later, we moved to another school with an amphitheatre type feel. The stage was low and the seats rose up around it. No one ever made those comments again. But...there were still levels.
How do we eradicate these levels? How can we put everyone on equal footing (physically) in church to meet with God and worship Him? How do we solve this problem of stages? I don't know but you'd better believe that I'm going to think about it.