I just finished reading Susan Sparks’ Laugh Your Way to Grace. The premise of the book is the need for and the function of humor in spirituality. Sparks presents the notion that all human gatherings can be classified into two groups: living room gatherings or den gatherings.

Growing up we had both—only our den was called a family room. No one EVER went into the living room without permission. No one took food in there. There was no running, no loud voices, and definitely no fun unless the king of the castle [my dad] authorized it WHEN special guests arrived. The room was always kept spotless. The family room on the other hand was where we lived and played and ate and harassed each other. There we tickled and laughed and cried together. We didn’t need permission to have an “outburst” if an outburst was necessary, and special guests were invited into the life that was being lived in the room.regardless of the room’s order.

In her book, Sparks suggests that as evangelicals we have delegated worship to a living room gathering. In order to “protect” the reverence we define as proper worship behavior we enter worship spaces with hushed tones. There is no running, no laughter, no loud voices, and no food.  Our worship places are always spotless. Ironically, we worship the living God who created running, laughter, loud voices, food, and “outbursts” in a living room setting where these things are banned. Her question is: what would happen if we brought worship into the den/family room? How would the life of our churches change if we treated our worship spaces the same way we treat our den/family rooms?

Thought provoking questions.

Here’s my dilemma. I like aspects of both rooms. There are times when I want quiet and order. My spirit needs hushed tones in my worship. There are other times when laughter and chaos play and spontaneity order my worship. I don’t think I am alone here.

So here are my questions: is there a way to design a worship space that invites aspects from the den/family room and living room? Can we create worship entrance points that have hushed features and live out loud features?