I wrote the following as a response to a comment written by a friend of mine from high school which he wrote replying to a Facebook post I wrote. I thought I’d share it this way as well.
As of late, through my study of Scripture and the topic of worship, what it truly is and its purpose, I am becoming more and more convinced that the “typical worship service” (I can’t stand having it called a “service” for when I go to a business for a service, I expect to be “served” by having something “done” for me; isn’t this what often occurs in our worship gatherings and people’s expectations and approach? Isn’t this the opposite of what should occur) is just another performance to attend for 60 or 90 minutes on a Sunday morning similar to going to a performance somewhere else during the other 6 days of the week.
It is meant to be so much more, but it has often been reduced to what someone has called, “movie church.” You come to the building (like to the theater), you watch others do stuff like pray, preach and/or sing (like watching the actual movie), you might sing along with others some songs (similar to reactions to scenes in the movie such as “awwww,” or gasps or fright), but has real participation occurred (can it be said we really “participated” in the movie)?
According to I Corinthians 14:26ff, everyone is to be involved in bringing what God has shared with and given to them in the days leading up to worship so that the body is built up. How many actually, in the days leading up to the gathering, prepare themselves for the gathering, to share what God has shared with them?
I am becoming more and more convinced that worship has become more about a few, possibly trained professionals, doing the actual worship and everyone else really, for all intents and purposes, watching the performance. These are the things the Spirit has been flowing through my head in recent days. This all goes back to what it means to be the body of Christ, His bride, as well as the role of the pastor.
According to Ephesians 4, my role is to prepare, equip, the saints for the work of the ministry for the “building up of the body of Christ,” not to do it for them. This must include two things: teaching them how to recognize God’s leading and hear and respond to the voice of God through His Spirit (I am to accomplish this through modeling and more intimate one-to-one teaching) and creating an atmosphere at our gatherings in which they are free and empowered to share what the Spirit has shared with them to communicate for the “building up” (I Cor. 14:26) of the body.
Imagine coming to a local gathering of believers and not knowing what is going to happen during that gathering because you do not know how the Spirit has been speaking to others who will also be at that gathering. For me, and many of my children’s generation with whom I have spoken about this very thing, that anticipation is exciting and contagious. I want to be there; I have to be there; for I want to share what God has been sharing with me so that the body and others are built up as well as hear what He is going to say to me through His people and how what He has shared with me will impact and build up the body corporately and me personally.
Simultaneously, our gatherings, by nature, are a culmination and a beginning. They are a culmination of what God has been sharing, showing and speaking to His people for His people the week leading up to the gathering. Gatherings are also a beginning, for through His people fully participating in the gathering through sharing what God has, individually, shared with them, shown and spoken to them with the rest of the gathering.
So, are you, even now, being prepared by God to fully participate in the gathering of which you might be part this coming Sunday? Is the atmosphere of that gathering such that you feel free and empowered to share what God through His Spirit has shared with you to share with His body?
If the atmosphere and the gathering itself is crafted and scripted in such a way where this environment of freedom and empowerment of God’s people to fully participate doesn’t truly exist, are we, in essence, telling God to, “Shut up! We know better!”?
Think about it.