Recently, we visited a church, not too different from some other churches I’ve visited. Maybe this even describes your church.
It was dark! No windows and the only bright lights shining were on the stage. People entered the dimly lit, mostly dark, rows of chairs and found their seat. Some pulled out their cell phones and started texting.
I wondered, as I always do when I enter a similar church, will they turn up the lights so I can see my Bible when the sermon starts. They didn’t.
As we began to worship in song and the lyrics appeared on the screens, I had an epiphany from the Holy Spirit. The lyrics were much like this song “The Light in the Darkness,” which starts out like this:
In the beginning was the Word/The Word was with God and the Word was God/Through Him all things were made that have been made/In Him was Life and that Life was the Light of men/And the Light shone in the darkness/But it did not understand/The Light shone in the darkness/But it did not comprehend/That which we have heard and we have seen/This we proclaim to you concerning the Word of Life/This is message we have heard and declare to you/God is Light and in Him there’s no darkness at all/And the Light shines in the darkness/But it did not understand/The Light shines in the darkness/But it’s hard to comprehend
As the words kept flashing on the screen, I thought, Lord, why are we singing about you being the Light in the darkness while standing here in almost complete darkness? This just doesn’t seem right. You are the Light of the world. You tell us to go into the dark world and let our Christian light shine, and yet, we’re worshiping in a church enveloped in darkness!
We continued singing in the dark . . .
The Word became flesh and dwells among us/We behold the glory of the only begotten Son/He has come full of love full of grace and truth/This is the message we proclaim to you/And the Light shines in your darkness/And we pray you understand/The Light shines in your darkness/And we pray you comprehend/The Light shines in the darkness/Ah but will you understand/The Light shines in the darkness/But will you comprehend/Will you comprehend/I pray you comprehend
I know many churches start out in movie theaters and office buildings, but the church we were in that Sunday morning looked like a new building.
I’ve also heard the reasoning behind having the church dark is to draw the younger generation, but this is not a concert setting; this is church! Why does the next generation want to sit in the dark?
The pastor was not a young pastor; he looked like he could be a grandpa.
When we returned to our home church, I loved worshiping with the sunlight streaming through the windows and looking at the clouds and blue sky through the window behind the log cross, built by one of our parishioners. And with the beautiful overhead lighting, I could see clearly my church family, and most importantly, the words in my Bible.
The side “walls” at Saddleback Church where we were members for almost 25 years, are floor to ceiling windows, and the sanctuary well lit with overhead lights. When you walk in, you can clearly see fellow parishioners to greet them. There is no darkness. Even if you were feeling down when you entered, your spirits lift in the bright cheery atmosphere. People can actually sit outside and look through the windows to see the stage and hear through speakers.
They can see to read their Bibles, if they bring them.
With so many churches going dark today, I understand why people aren’t taking their Bibles to church. I recently wrote about this sad trend: Are Today’s Churches Discouraging Reading the Bible? Some comments mentioned they couldn’t read their Bible in church because it was so dark.
The word “light” appears 263 times in the NIV Bible.
Maybe I’m making too much of this, but I know it was the Holy Spirit nudging me to speak out as I stood in the dark, singing about the Light shining in the darkness. We know that “darkness” in the Bible refers to a culture or “world” that doesn’t know or worship God and His ways: anti-God.
But “God is never too exhausted by His Light to take care of the darkness,” said Pastor Brian Smith. And neither should we be!
I honestly don’t understand why churches are choosing to have dark sanctuaries. I would welcome a discussion to please enlighten me, and others who want to see clearly, when we go to church.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12)
Walk in the light because He is in the light!
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.
Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com.
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/scottmarblephotography