This morning, my pastor shared on article on his Facebook page that I thought I was going to hate. (you can see it here). The title told me I was in for another one of those “us vs. them” lectures on how bad modern church worship is. I was all ready to type out a response, but I figured it would be a good idea to actually read the article first.
The first third was exactly what I thought it would be. But at the start of the second third, I realized the writer was conveying the message I delivered on a Wednesday night in church a couple months back. And that message is simply one single question: Why are you stepping through the doors of your church?
And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:14-17)
The article quoted some scripture, but to me, this is the entire key verse in regards to the modern worship movement. It to my own paraphrase on it:
To the church of America write, because you are disengaged, I will vomit you out of my mouth
The issue is not worship styles, or the “entertainment” factor, it is the engagement factor when people leave the walls of the church. We take for granted the privilege we have to be able to walk into a house of worship and openly praise God. All over the world, people are walking 5 miles to a church with no electricity or water, and share a bible and sing praises to God. Yet we want to argue about what instrument should be played on Sunday?
The point of the church is worship, but so often, we do not even know what this word means. I read two definitions of worship that I think sum it up best for me:
- An offering of your life to God in response to His life in you
- A response to who God is to you and what He does in your life
In other words, worship does not just take place in a building 2 hours on Sunday morning and an hour Wednesday night. It is a continuous process of thanking God for all the blessings He has given you.
I do agree with the author of the article in that I sometimes think that the more glitz and glamour that are added into worshiping God, the less worship actually takes place. It becomes more about the show than the substance.
I know this sounds incredibly strange coming from me, someone that is pushing for more and more tech in my church. And the reason I am pushing for a more modern looking church is to attract a more, shall we say, youthful demographic. So I am completely aware that what I am typing go against the things I am pushing for in my home church. But, those things I am pushing for are geared to bringing more of the unchurched in our community through the doors. Once those new in the congregation come in, why are they staying? That is where the key question is. If all the new purchases we are making do not bring about a worshipful spirit in church walls, then honestly I have to ask the same questions brought up in the article. Worshiping God should be the top priority we have in walking through church doors, and anything blocking our path do doing that needs to be put aside when we enter.
Which brings me to the second reason we should be coming to church, and that is to learn. We should be coming through the doors of our churches with our minds focused on learning and understanding God’s Word better. In our Sunday school classes, we should be bringing to the table questions we have from our bible reading the week before and then we should be offering up answers to others questions. During the sermon message, we should be taking notes on what we hear, and going back and looking at those notes as we read through the bible passages that are mentioned. Your mindset should be on gaining biblical knowledge and understanding. And do to this, your mind needs to be free of any and all worldly distractions what might be in it. YOU MUST BE ENGAGED. And you cannot be engaged if you are concentrating on other things other than the message that is being presented.
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)
Self-evaluation – you should be made to feel uncomfortable and want to make a change in your life every time you leave the church. What is said from the pulpit should make you examine your life, and make you want to make actionable changes to draw closer to Jesus. If you are not feeling moved to change when your leave your church, either your pastor is not telling you the truth or you are not engaged in what they are saying enough to see the areas in your life which they are talking about.
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. (2 Cor 13:5)
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. (James 1: 23-24)
You see, if we simply sit in church each week and hear the words being said up here, without actually listening to what is being said, we are doing ourselves a disservice. We should be made to feel a need of action in our lives about what is being said up from our pastor. If we are not, either the pastor is being ineffective or we are simply choosing to ignore those parts which will make us question the way we are living.
And finally, we should be coming to church for community. I have spoken many times about how the church used to be the center of social activities in communities. And I am convinced this has stopped being true because we have become disengaged with our own community. The church as a whole has lost the urgency to create a feeling of community. When you come through the doors of your church, you must be of the mindset that the church is the focal point of your community.
Since joining my church, I have witnessed firsthand how, when it has the right mindset, can show what a loving community is can be. Both with my mom’s passing and with my accident, I came to realize how I had fallen short in engaging myself into the community mindset.
This is one of the reasons I decided in 2016 to give control of the music booking website to someone else. I realized that I was focusing on the wrong things, and that my time and energy should be placed locally in helping achieve the things I am speaking of here.
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. (Acts 4:32-35)
We love the idea of community. Everyone engaged and involved and connected, but how many people show up here longing for someone to reach out to them, shake their hand and have more than a 2 second conversation. – Craig Groeschel
So while I am not agree with everything in the article linked above, I do understand the need for us all to question why it is we walk through our church doors. Is it for the entertainment, or is it to draw closer to Jesus. I say it a lot: It is ok to bring the lost through the doors with the fun stuff, but once you get them through the doors, it has to turn serious. And there is nothing more serious than eternal life.