It finally happened. In almost 30 years of church ministry, I experienced my first Sunday morning power outage. At the conclusion of our early chapel service, the electric power in our building and surrounding neighborhood went out. We still had three more worship services to go!
A group of staff and volunteers huddled at the back of the sanctuary. Should we cancel? Is it too dark to worship? Is it safe? Do our toilets operated without electricity? (BTW, the answer is yes.) Can a sermon be given without microphones? We decided to proceed with an abbreviated service. After all, this is the day the Lord has made! What followed turned out to be a memorable and endearing morning for me and, I think, for the entire congregation.
Lessons Learned from a Sunday Morning Power Outage:
- We don’t need what we think we need. Lights, microphones, projectors, pipe organ, guitars – these are wonderful things. But when you strip everything away, the only requirements for worship are a Holy God and a group of people who revere Him.
- An occasional crisis brings out the best in a team. Our musicians, tech operators, children’s workers, and guest services team had to be very creative. The crisis created an all-hands-on-deck solution-oriented environment. Within minutes we had candles, flashlights, and a bullhorn. Children’s ministry leaders realigned programs to use only rooms with outside windows. Musicians reworked their planned songs to accommodate the lack of sound amplification and lyric slides. Greeters redirected the guests to the proper rooms and instilled confidence throughout the hallways. It was chaos and, may I say, a little fun.
- Worship is about what happens in the pews, not on the stage. I have rarely heard our congregation more engaged than they were this past Sunday. They prayed the Lord’s prayer loudly and with fervor. When I stepped up to speak without a microphone, they shushed each other so they could hear. There was an unusual amount of audible “amens” and even spontaneous applause. It was if the Body of Christ was rising up to fill in the gap created on the stage and in our system.
During the 11:00 service, as Pastor Doug Thompson led us in the Lord’s Prayer, the lights came on. “For Yours in the Kingdom, and the POWER, and the Glory forever.” It was a cool moment for sure! The power was restored. To be honest, part of me was disappointed.
A few congregation members said, “That was great. Let’s do that more often.” Somehow I think a monthly planned power-outage or a new electric-free worship venue wouldn’t feel the same. It was precisely because Sunday’s power outage was unplanned and unexpected that it worked. God was able to knock us off our routine and meet us outside our comfort zone.
May we never forget from whom real power comes!