What if what you have been doing in church is wrong?
What if what you thought worship was, how the church today, and the leadership and the tradition, what if it was wrong? From the reasons why you do what you do, to the actual acts of during the worship service, what if it's wrong?
What would you do?
Over the last 6 months or so, I have been convicted to ask, what is worship? Really. Biblically speaking, what should worship look like? What elements must be included? What are we currently doing that we should not be doing? What honors God? What brings people most effectively into the throne room? What causes people to worship God in spirit and in truth? What welcome the manifested presence of God Almighty? What leads to changed lives?
These are big questions. And what I am finding is the answers are just as big, if not bigger?
I have been listening to a seminary class on worship. One of my favorite professors teaches Worship and the Church, and I have to say, we, pastors, should be very careful when it comes to our attempts to lead people before God in worship.
I grew up in the church. My home denomination is a conservative, evangelical, traditional group of believers. When I begun my seminary training in that denomination, I thought I knew what the worship service was suppose to look like. Liturgically based. Not high-church. True to Scripture. Ancient in tradition. Steeped in history.
As I have served in church leadership, I've become more open to the elements of worship. The opportunity to serve as a full-time youth pastor required a change in denominations. The move opened me up to a different form of liturgy. As a youth pastor, I was on the edge of worship evolution as the emerging and post-modern movements popped up and faded. I watched as churches shifted from traditional style of worship to what became known as the "contemporary" movement. Worship services went form liturgies and hymns, prayers and sermons/homilies, to praise songs and top 40 favorites, messages and media. Candles on an alter or communion table were replaced with color, programmable lighting. Chores became bands. Chairs replaced pews. Powerpoint replaced Bibles. And who can forget the powerful WORSHIP craze as every Christian artist released a "worship" CD. Bands like delirious, Hillsong United, and the David Crowder Band, artists like Tomlin, Redman, Baloche, Brewster flooded speakers with a worship driven sound.
It's fair to say, much has influenced what we and the church say and think when it comes to worship and what worship should look like. As a pastor, the thought is always on my mind, "Am I leading the people before God, or am I attempting to give them a show that causes them to come back again and again?"
Our church is two years old. We are still defining who we are as a church; developing the internal culture that will become what people see and feel when they visit. Our goal has always been to be an Acts 2 church; to do away with as much of the junk of church as possible so we can focus on BEING the Church, not just doing church. We strive to keep it simple. To channel our efforts and resources to worshipping God, building a community ideal for growth and discipleship, and creating ministries that help us to care for those we reach out to. But I can't help but ask, Are we teaching people to worship God in the proper way?
As I listen to my seminary professor, I wonder if the church at large has missed what worship is? Have we become so comfortable with seeker-sensitive and cultural-related models of the current mega-church movements that we miss what it means to worship God as He intends in His Word? I mean, what has influenced how we worship? Our experiences in churches? The culture around us? Or what God has commanded in His Word?
When we sat down to talk about what our "worship" service would look like, I have to be honest and say, we looked at what we knew, what others were doing, and what we thought worship should be. But the more I look at Scripture the more I realize, we're getting it wrong.
It's time to correct that. It's time for the Church to stop playing to the culture and begin worshipping the One True and Living God once again. You want to know why are nation, our world is in such distress? I am beginning to believe that we in the Church are to blame? We have left what it means to worship God to chase grandiose dreams of big-church stardom.
It's time for the Church to come back to God and repent. To look at Scripture for our direction in worship and not the cultural trends.
At the begin of 2014, I stated that I was tired of the moderate. Tired of just getting by. Tired of settling for what we had and not striving for all the God can do. Tire of church as usual. I wanted to experience the fullness of life that Jesus promised in John 10:10. I wanted to live in the complete joy of the Lord. And I wanted the church to do the same. #EPIC became our hashtag for the year. And we set out to know God and what it means to worship Him, to BE the Church He called us to BE, and to actively participate with God as He changes the lives of the people around us. And now I am committing to teaching the church what it means to truly worship God as He ordains in His Word.
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