Monday, January 2, 2012

Don't rob people of the joy of worship

One of the temptations, particularly as churches grow, is to professionalize worship to a place where it is about the "excellence" of the performance on stage, perfect timing, awesome acoustics and providing an " unforgettable experience" each week. I know pastors who actually become angry or anxious at any "imperfections" in the service. Appearances and performance can start to mean everything.

What easily gets lost in all this is that worship is not about a performance but about helping people express their love, appreciation and commitment to the Lord of Lords who is holy, righteous, loving, merciful and faithful. It is both an individual and corporate expression of worship of the Almighty God. It is deeply personal and by nature must be participatory. It is not about who is on stage, but about the hearts of the congregation as they lift their voices and prayer and thoughts to their Heavenly Father. In fact, anything that happens up front that detracts from the congregation joining in personal, corporate and authentic worship is counter to the purpose of worship.

Good worship leaders both plan the service carefully and are sensitive to the Holy Spirit when He breaks in and changes the plan. Worship that never deviates from the plan is worship that is not sensitive to what the Holy Spirit might be doing in the service and among His people. After all, why should He not respond to the worship of His people? And what if He desires that the service go more than the allotted number of minutes? God cannot be boxed in and when He is, we are the ones who suffer.

And what about simplicity on occasion? A simple hymn, a quiet meditation, the scriptural and theological integrity of good liturgy where we recite Scripture and truth to God as they did in the early church, reminding ourselves of the basics of our faith. Or times when we are still and silent before God echoing the Psalmist who said "Be still and know that I am God."

My observation is that many of us have a deep hunger to worship God rather than to attend a performance about God. Our hearts are often parched from the stresses of the week and they need the living water of His truth, the encouragement of His promises and the opportunity to freely sing and pray to the One who is our ultimate Hope and greatest joy. Anything that distracts from that opportunity gets in the way of our hearts being refilled for the week ahead. Never rob people of the joy of worship. It is about God, not about us, it is about the congregation lifting God up, not about those who are in front. Their job is to make it easy for the rest to spend time in His presence. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is the church you pastor anywhere near here? Cuz I think I have not seen a church with a simple commitment and accountability to holiness and the fruit of the Spirit in oh about ten years. I have to admit that I wish I could put the genie back in the bottle (excuse the reference) because, having obtained so much information and experience about the churches, I often feel hopeless about the state of affairs. In all honesty I have never seen a church in over twenty years as a christian that could very long stand against the schemes of the devil and theologically I am certain this is because there is sin in the camp. In fact current statistics bear this out most painfully - 47% of pastors are viewing porn, 70% report being depressed. It seems like the enemy is swarming the church from every direction and still we won't wake up and raise the clarion call to our Nation, 'repent and believe!'

I'm looking forward to the completion of your mediation at Spring Lake and I pray not only that God's wisdom flow from your pen, but that the leadership act upon it so that a simple refreshing from His presence might happen in this church where my family was hoping to find a home.

God bless.

Larry Cornell