A few days ago I wrote about changing the paradigm of various aspects of Christianity here in America. I want to begin focusing on the aspect of worship in our churches. Part of my responsibility at Avenue is to lead worship at two of our services, so I am pretty engrained into the weekly rythmn of worship in our community. But as I lead, I have become increasingly aware that there needs to be change within the arena of worship.
First, there is a consumeristic mentality within most congregations when it comes to worship. On Sunday morning, the average Christian in my setting (and I’m guessing elsewhere) comes to church looking to be ‘fed.’ I hear this on a regular basis; “I’m really being fed through the message,” or “I don’t feel like I’m being fed.” Others say, “The worship (usually meaning music) didn’t connect with me today.” These are just a few things that you hear in a consummeristic congregation.
There is a great danger with this outlook that expects the church/pastor/worship gathering to do something for the congregation. The purpose of worship is not to be fed (although it will happen), but it is to direct all our praise and adoration to God. In worship, there is an audience of One. And each person who walks through the doors of the church are not the receiptient of the service, but are the givers. In Worship, we are to give our all to God.
How do we move from consumeristic worship to God-centered worship?
- Our image of God must grow: For many of us, we have a view of God that is really small. We’ve lost touch with God’s majesty, glory, and splendor. We easliy forget God’s mercy and grace. When we have a better grasp of majesty, of God’s ‘largeness’, then there is nothing we can do but to fall down in worship.
- Our Worship Services Must Change: Probably 99% of our churches feature seats that face the stage where the pastor speaks from, much like a concert. Maybe we need to create churches that are circular in their seating so that we are more unified in our praise. We remember that we are a part of a community that worships.
We also need to reexamine what we do in worship and the message it sends. Are things we do in worship focused on God- or ourselves?
- We need to feed ourselves: For many in our setting (and I suspect plenty of others places), our people only crack their Bibles on Sunday morning. As pastors, and church leaders, we need to develop congregations who are studying the Bible, growing in small groups, and using their gifts in service. When this happens, then our worship services are not consummeristic, but become focused on God rather than ourselves. When we are more focused on God- we become more focused to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth.