Monday, February 20, 2017

Worship and the Easy Gospel

Many years ago, I quit going to a large church that began to put such a strong emphasis on worship, that it was very nearly all they did.

It wasn't as though that was my sole reason that I quit attending. I was in college at the time and exploring a myriad of churches in different denominations. I got married and--as husband & wife--we settled on a smaller church elsewhere.

We went back and attended that big church a few more times sporadically... but it really got solidified in my mind that we weren't meant to be there when the church began putting their primary emphasis on worship through music.

Their worship pastor had a brush with death when he very nearly committed suicide. I can't say for sure whether there was any connection between their "off" focus and the worship pastor coming close to suicide--it isn't uncommon for pastors wrestle with depression--but I do know that that church was confusing mission and worship.

They were drawing throngs of new people to their church, to say the least. All with the idea that we were placed on this Earth to worship.

Let me pause to clarify terms, here. Worship is expressing adoration to God. The word often gets muddled in modern Christianese to mean music and songs. What God laid out for us by the example and writings of early Christians is that we worship God in our hearts and by the lives we live, not just when we sing to Him.

Now, I do think singing and making joyful music unto the Lord are essential to the Christian life. What this large church was doing put so much focus on drawing crowds into a rock-concert-like Sunday service ...that they forgot what Christ commissioned us to do: make disciples. Our mission as believers is to share the Gospel with the world and continually help each other to become more Christlike in our daily lives.

In recent years, Facebook notifies me when someone in a group I'm in is looking for a recommendation for a church.
  Nine times out of ten, they are asking for a church with "great worship" (read "uplifting music").
  No one ever asks for help finding a church "that will really challenge me" or a church that is "reaching out to the community". I suspect it is because those things require a work mindset and not just a participant mindset.

I like great, uplifting music from a finely-tuned praise band along with gorgeous singing, lights, and a fog machine just as much as the next millennial. Don't get me wrong here. I'm not necessarily saying we should just get rid of that. What I am saying, is we should challenge weak or lukewarm Christianity that seeks only to be served rather than to serve.

P.S. I do also appreciate good old fashioned voices and acoustic instruments ;)


What do you think are the reasons modern Christians are always looking for a church with great worship?

In what ways do you think spending a lot of resources on music could be distracting us from learning essential tenets of our faith?

Does your church have community small groups, discipleship teams, or Sunday school classes that have challenged you to delve deeper into changing your heart? Are people radically changing their lives to look more like Christ?

Pray with me: I pray for that specific church which I haven't revisited in years has been focused on Jesus' great commission. You created us, and we were placed on this Earth to worship...making disciples and self-sacrificing love is our act of worship. I pray for authentic Christianity in the hearts of our new believers as well as those who've sought to walk with you for years. Refine us.