“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Leonard Sweet, in The Gospel According to Starbuck’s, says that the Church should be like Starbuck's in that it should be E.P.I.C., like Starbuck's is E.P.I.C. Sweet says that Starbuck's, “our cultures church,” is Experiential, Participatory, Image Rich, and Communal. Sweet makes the point that the church is supposed to be E.P.I.C. and was E.P.I.C. before Starbuck’s was.
Sweet gets a "bad rap" and is lumped in with the emergent church. I completely understand people’s concerns with and their resistance of the emergent church movement. I would commend Jim Belcher's book Deep Church for a balanced, fair, and orthodox handling of the emergent church movement.
On the flip side, the E.P.I.C. model of the church is very much biblical when you subtract Sweet’s biases out of the equation. Jesus taught experientially, called His followers to participate in His kingdom work, used parables and other imagery in His teaching. Jesus also called the church to deep community as we see throughout the gospels and the book of Acts.
I have been worshiping and serving in the Anglican Church for six years now. The good news is as Anglicans we are offering what many other denominations are not offering in our church services, and that is an E.P.I.C. experience of worship and church. This is what our North American culture is hungry for. We are poised to grow and are offering what people in a post-modern generation and culture are looking for. First, we are offering the good news of Jesus Christ and His salvation, and second, we are offering an E.P.I.C. experience of following, worshiping, and living for Jesus.
The Anglican way is E.P.I.C. Our worship is liturgical. Liturgy simply means the work of the people. Our worship is modeled after Jesus and His disciples and how they worshiped experientially through service and participation, with rich imagery, and in deep community.
We enter into worship as participators, not spectators. We are called by God into great community, see Acts 2:41-47, and this article Community in Discipleship. Our worship is filled with experiential opportunities to participate as we sit, stand, kneel, raise our hands, pray together, sing together, confess our faith together, confess our sins together, participate in communion, view the processional and recessional, hear the word of God, serve God together, offer our offerings, share God’s peace with one another and so on. Everything we do in our worship is full of imagery with deep meaning.
The Gospel of Christ bids us come and die, to give of ourselves fully, as Christ gave himself for us and died for our sins. We are to offer ourselves up as living sacrifices and to fully participate in worship (Romans 12:1-2). This has very real implications for our lives and worship and for our communities. We cannot follow and teach the gospel and live the gospel without E.P.I.C. outcomes.
Following, serving, and worshiping Jesus Epically.
Belcher, Jim. Deep Church. IVP Books. 2009
Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Ro 12:1-2
Sweet, Leonard. The Gospel According to Starbucks. WaterBrook Press. 2007.