Geoffrey D. Lentz is a native of Pensacola, Florida and serves as the associate pastor of First United Methodist Church in his hometown. With a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of West Florida and a Master of Divinity from Duke University, Rev. Lentz combines his knowledge of ancient church history with creative and innovative worship in his church’s fourth Sunday morning service called ICON. This cutting edge, tradition rich, and Christ centered style of worship is rapidly becoming the example for the future of Christian worship. He is currently working on a Doctorate of Ministry with a focus on preaching and liturgy through Drew University.
Geoffrey and his wife, Elizabeth (Liz) live in Pensacola with their two children, Luke and Eliza. Geoffrey enjoys the outdoors, reading, music, and Duke University Basketball. Geoffrey is author of The Gospel According to St. Luke: A Participatory Study Guide and co-author of Learning and Living Scripture: An Introduction to the Participatory Study Method.
The ICON service at your church is said to be “cutting edge, tradition rich, art embracing, and Christ centered”. Many churches struggle with promoting themselves as relevant in the 21st century and avoiding the pitfall of becoming just another venue for “entertainment”. How do you take the vision of ICON and bring it and the people to worship?
I believe that the church’s biggest problem today is not that we are not focused enough on making God relevant to humanity, but that we are not focused enough on making humanity relevant to God. The fascinating thing is that in the postmodern world we live in, authenticity is the most relevant thing of all. At ICON, we believe that there is no contradiction between being cutting edge and tradition rich. We use two large high-definition screens and have a progressive rock worship band, but a Christian from any century of Christian history would be comfortable with the order of worship (our order of worship is based on Justin Martyr’s early second century description of the early church worshiping).
The service centers around the celebration of Holy Communion every Sunday. Practicing the Lord’s Supper provides the congregation with a time to respond to God’s call and be transformed into the body of Christ. For 2000 years the Lord’s Supper has kept the Lord’s Day Christ-centered. In a world that tells us everything should be centered around us or around the consumer, we find that being as Christ-centered as possible changes lives and draws in even the ‘unchurched’. Maybe Jesus was on to something when he said, “seek first the kingdom of heaven and all else shall be added” (Matthew 6:33). The modern church spends too much time focusing on the perceived needs of people so that often we forget about God. When we focus first and foremost on the worship of God, we proclaim our belief that what people need most is God in their lives. Many contemporary services today give people what they want but not what they need. Our goal is to give people what they need and trust God that it (He) is really what they want .