Illustration: The Unquenchable Worshipper, Matt Redman
Regal Books; Ventura California, ©2001
When we come together as congregations, we can just as easily get thrown off course. A few years back in our church, we realized some of the things we thought were helping us in our worship were actually hindering us. They were throwing us off the sent of what it really means to worship.
We had always set aside lots of time in our meetings for worshipping God through music. But it began to dawn on us that we’d lost something. The fire that used to characterize our worship had somehow grown cold. In some ways, everything looked great. We had some wonderful musicians and a good-quality sound system. There were lots of new songs coming through too. But somehow we’d started to rely on these things a little too much and they’d become distractions. Where once people would enter in, no matter what, we would now wait to see what the band was like first, how good the sound was or whether we were into the songs chosen.
Mike, the pastor, decided on a pretty drastic course of action: We would strip everything away for a season, just to see where our hearts were. So the very next Sunday when we turned up at church, there was no sound system to be seen and no band to lead us. The new approach was simple: We weren’t going to lean so hard on those outward things anymore. Mike would say, “When you come through the doors of the church on Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God? What are you going to sacrifice?”
If I’m honest, at first I was pretty offended by the whole thing. The worship was my job! But as God softened my heart, I started to see His wisdom all over these actions. At first the meetings were a bit awkward: There were long periods of silence, and there wasn’t too much singing going on. But we soon began to learn how to bring heart offerings to God without any of the external trappings we’d grown used to. By stripping everything away, we slowly started to rediscover the heart of worship.
After a while, the worship band and the sound system reappeared, but now it was different. The song of our hearts had caught up with song of our lips (emphasis mine).
Out of this season I reflected on where we had come to as a church and wrote this song:
When the music fades, All is stripped away, And I simply come;
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart.
I’ll bring you more than a song,
For a song in itself is not what you have required.
You search much deeper within through the way things appear;
You’re looking into my heart.
In the chorus I tried to sum up where we were at with worship:
I’m coming back to the heart of worship,
And it’s all about You, All about You Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it,
When it’s all about You, All about You Jesus.
Matt Redman, “The Heart of Worship” (UK: Kingsway’s Thankyou Music, n.d.).
Contributed by Michael Stark on Mar 17, 2018
Though public worship is vital to the growth of a congregation, private worship must never be neglected. In fact, private worship is essential if we will worship corporately. The message explores by examining an incident in the life of Gideon.