- On January 8, 2013
- 2 Comments
Still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead end streets and
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned to myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take the test
It is January and the time of resolutions is here. It is the time when we look in the mirror, we find fault with ourselves and we pledge with undying devotion our commitment to change. For some it is weight (yes I am ready to start changing what I eat and hitting the gym . . . again), for others it is bad habits. Still others see some aspect of their life that has fallen off, like reading books, or playing a recreational sport, or perhaps relationships that need tending. The point is that if we were all honest there is always something that could be better and it seems at this time of year we are more inclined to want to do something about these “deficiencies.”
I will not even begin to go into the next part of this discussion, which is how long these new (or in the case of my losing weight, repetitive) commitments last. It is a running joke that January through early March is the Christmas shopping season for fitness centers and gyms. Why do you think they sign you up to those annual contracts? Because they know after three months 95% of new enrollees will rarely if ever return. Regular attendees at these facilities know they just have to wait out the first quarter of the year for all of the newbie’s to fall off and things return to normal. So, does our well documented lack of sustained commitment to New Year’s resolutions mean that we really do not want to change?
I ask this question because I see it played out in worship all over the country. Why do we go to congregational worship? The answer is supposed to be to encounter God through the intercession of the Risen Savior by the power of the Holy Spirit. But why do we really go to worship? You answer that one and be honest. Not just what others think but you too.
What is the primary result of worship? The answer is supposed to be changed lives. Lives changed for the better because they have encountered the living presence of the Almighty God. However, for you and your congregation, what is the real result of worship? Again, you answer this one and be honest.
Much as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the Twelve Disciples, Paul, and the list goes on, all experienced radical change when they met God, so too are we to be changed by such a meeting. We have the opportunity to be changed individually everyday, and corporately as the Body of Christ on at least a weekly basis. I am not saying that all results of worship, “have fallen short of the Glory of God.” We say that we gather because we desire to meet God and be changed. But do we? Really?
I regularly encounter people who come up to me and say, “Wow that was a great service.” Or they say, “the (music, sermon, prayers, take your pick) really touched me.” I am beginning to respond with this question, “Wow, that’s great. How are you different now than when you came in?” If you have any experience as a worship leader you can imagine the looks this question produces. Confusion, stunned wonder, even anger are just a few. Every once in awhile someone may quote back some part of the sermon or a song that they say will affect how they speak or act in the future, or perhaps how the urgings of the Holy Spirit brought them closer to God. But for the most part people are not expecting this question. Why? Because in reality they are not expecting to be changed by worship.
Why do we go into a gym? Because we expect what we do there to make a difference in our waist lines. So for me I have to ask, what are people expecting to happen when they go to worship? I believe worship leaders should be worried about making what is happening on the platform the best it can be in honor of God and so that God’s work can be done. But more than that I think we should be working on the expectations of our congregations for what worship is supposed to be about and what God desires to accomplish through worship of Him. I see so many leaders who will not take advantage of resources even though they say they want to change. I see so many congregations who say they want things to be better, they want to change. Yet, their expectations for worship do not include change in themselves through an encounter with God through the sacrifice of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I would re-write Bowie just a bit,
God can change me, and I can’t change God
1. Expect change in worship to begin with yourself.
2. Don’t leave worship reflecting on how your needs were met. Ask yourself how you will be different.
3. Worship should not always be the 23rd Psalm of being comforted by God. Our greatest examples in the Bible were challenged by encountering the presence of God. Read again the story of Moses at the bush, all of the Jonah story, and the conversion of Paul.
4. Challenge others to change their expectations for worship and watch the worship in your church become a powerful tool to move the Body of Christ into action.