What The Heck Is That?
Getting ready for church, I watched a TV preacher talking to a crowd at a Conference for 45 minutes. The last 15 minutes were filled by his grandson’s pitch to buy his grandpa’s teaching tapes. When I drove home from church this morning, I listened to a radio broadcast of a local church’s “worship service” which consisted of highly polished professional sounding music for 15 minutes and a 45 minute sermon on how to “pick a mate to marry”! “The difference between men and women are coming in the upcoming Sundays in this series,” was promised. My home’s church “worship service” format was basically the same only interrupted by everyone taking time for handshakes and the reading of announcements that were already in the bulletin. Returning home I listened to an internet “live stream” of another church 60 miles away, and again the format reflected the others I had previously heard with music, offering, hand shakes, and a long sermon.
Looking from the outside at how we “market” Christianity and the church, I didn’t even get a glimpse of really who the Church is, “His people”. I see and heard its “program”, its elevated “standard of music”, its “professional teachers”, but never a word from or about its people. Even in the music mix, the voices of the congregation could not be heard over the band and worship leaders. “Is this what the church calls a ‘worship service”, the world asks? If so, what would attract anyone to be a part of it, for there is nothing “intimate” about it. Good show, nice production, high orchestrated, but “intimate”? I don’t think so!
So what part is the congregation, or God’s people, to play in a worship service? Why are they so well hidden in television, radio productions, and online streaming? Why aren’t they and a relationship with them not the central feature of attraction to that church? Is there a hidden agenda?
I would like the church to reevaluate what an “intimate worship service” really is. Who is worshiping? If “intimate” means relationships, then how do they exemplify “intimate relationships”? If worship is about an “intimate” relationship, when God is in the midst of His people, then why is not “the midst of His people” become the central part of the Worship Service, which we hide so well?
A Challenge: If your church eliminated the music section of their service (worship team, band, choir, organ, etc.) and the preaching section of their service (pastor’s sermon) what would be left in your worship service? Announcements & offering? What would happen if “God’s people” were forced to come “prepared” to worship, if they actually “expected” the Holy Spirit to move amongst them, and if they would be open to respond in obedience to the Spirit’s leading. Wow, we just might experience an “intimate” “worship” “service”!