With all the thoughts on worship lately, I’ve really been taking a lot of the comments in, reading more, searching the Bible and trying to come to grips with what worship at or in the church looks like. Man, there are a million different thoughts and ideas floating around out there. Some Biblical, some practical, some personal and some just plain nuts. I still don’t have “thee” answer, but I do have some clarity so thoughts I’d share my thoughts.
It seems as though worship in the church is suffering from the same kind of disease that western Christianity is suffering from – it’s compartmentalized. Believers have their “God-time”, their family time, their church time, their exercise time, their work time, their down time, etc. We schedule everything and stick it in a nice little box often right next to the words “to do” so we can check it off when it’s done. A friend of mine pointed out that even us pastors are contributing to the problem when we ask people “How’s your spiritual life?” (like it’s a separate part and not just life).
So I got to thinking about how people approach church and worship. A lot of people come to a church looking for something and wanting to be taken care of, noticed, accepted, or whatever. There’s a place for that for sure, but it’s not (and shouldn’t be) the highest goal. When that happens, people approach church, worship, God and Christianity like they’re visitors, expecting someone else to do all the work and preparations before hand so that we can just show up and enjoy. We (pastors and church leaders) do it too. We prepare for guests to come, practice “our lines” and hope to make them feel welcomed enough that they can see, feel, connect or accept Jesus. Not a bad thing either is it?
But I don’t want to be a visitor when it comes to Christ; you know, here one minute and forget about Him the next. That’s why so much of the world sees us as hypocritical (BTW we’ll be talking about that in our next series “6 Things I Hate About Christians“) I want to be a follower of Christ. I want our church to be a follower of Christ first and foremost. People coming to church to worship should be coming as followers of Christ (not visitors) – intent on lifting up His name, participating and sharing in the praise of who He is. That needs to be the focus – Him.
Maybe it’s time we stop treating people like visitors and start preparing for the followers to come. Maybe it’s time to stop worrying so much about “how” and start focusing solely on “who”. (Hmmm, I like that – same letters totally different end result) Maybe it’s time we evaluate a successful church or worship service not by the positive or negative comments, but by whether or not everything pointed to the One who is worthy. And if that’s the case, we need strong leaders (pastors, worship leaders, etc) who can stand before the people and challenge them to “follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” *
So what are you? A visitor? A follower? Who’s your church preparing for? Visitors? Followers? Both? Help me understand this.