We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You arrive at church on a Sunday morning (or another time during the day), pumped up ready for an awesome day in the house of the Lord. But then the worship’s flat! Maybe the band was off key. Maybe the songs just didn’t work for the service you were in. Maybe you just didn’t like the songs, or worse, you didn’t know any of the songs that were sung on the day. Whatever the reason, you left the church after the service feeling bored, uninterested, like church that day was a chore. And who really likes chores anyway? Not me!
For a lot of us, this is an all too regular feeling. So what’s the answer? How do we fix this? Do we go down the route of making all services a mega-church-esque service, trying to make our church services more Hillsong or Bethel like? Do we sit down and just stomach it and just accept the fact that we’re never going to be at a church where the worship, quote unquote, moves us? Or is there some middle ground that we can find to make worship more engaging across the board, whilst not losing the identity of the church as you go? After all, we shouldn’t be seeking to make every church look and feel like Bethel or Hillsong now should we? Not that there is anything wrong with those churches, or what they do. It’s just that their style is not fit for purpose for each and every church, every church is unique, and they must be able to find their feel and their voice. But doing that can be a difficult process in of itself. So what’s the answer?
To put a long story short, we need to address our motives for worship. Are we looking for the songs that we sing to inspire us? To make us feel something? Or are we seeking to give God glory through the art of music and song? If your answer is the former, then that is a heart issue that must be addressed, because the worship you are seeking is what you can get from God, not what you can give. Self is at the center of your worship, not Jesus. And that is a sad thing to say.
On this very thought, well-known worship leader and musician Graham Kendrick said:
“Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a feeling which ‘comes upon you,’ but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Read the last part of that statement again … a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. Worship is not about us being entertained or moved, it is about us serving Jesus Christ and honouring Him as Lord and Saviour. Worship is about putting God first, not our own agendas. When we come to worship God, we need to take our eyes off of ourselves, and put them firmly on Jesus, on what He has done and is currently doing. God goes first, not us.
So let’s get honest with ourselves, and ask the difficult question. Am I seeking my own entertainment or God’s glorification? Are the songs we sing in church, the services we attend, are they about what we get out of them when we walk out of the door and into our Monday’s or is it about what we give God? Are we seeking a high for ourselves, or to lift up the most high?
Here is one verse from the Psalms on the subject of worship:
“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” – Psalm 29:2 (taken from the English Standard Version, ESV)
This verse alone tells us that glory belongs to the Lord, in fact, it tells us this the case doubly so. Meaning that God deserves glory above anything else. But notice the end of that verse, worship the Lord in the splendour of holiness. God’s holiness is radiant, it’s amazing, it’s beautiful, and it is with that understanding that we are to worship the Lord. In worship, we merely give to God what is already his, the honour due to his name for all he has done for us, his people.
The services we attend on a Sunday, they aren’t ours. We have no ownership over them. They belong to God, it is His face that we are to seek first when we sing and shout at the top of our lungs. God is the one we are there for, we should not be going to church to leave feeling awesome that day! We should leave knowing that we left it all on the table for the glory and honour of Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Knowing that God is pleased with our offering to Him.
Let’s take a quick second to think about that. How different would our church services be if we entered into God’s house with this mentality? Not going in thinking “right, I’m going to have a cracking day”, but going in saying to ourselves “no matter what, I’m giving God my all, he’s getting my best!” The passion in our churches would be uncontainable, the messages even more anointed than they already are. We would see both young and old enthralled with the work of the Lord, we would also see many more amazing things happen in our churches, God would work in ways we can’t even imagine. Ways that nobody could even dare fathom.
Isn’t that the kind of church you want to be a part of? I know I certainly do! Let’s make it happen!