Summary: What can we do to insure our experience of worship is everything God wants it to be?
(Show video - Be the Church)
Today, I want us to do just what that video challenges us to do - talk about how our church can become a church that makes a difference. Sadly, what the video reports as being true of America, is also true of Portales. We have more churches than we have gas stations, with a church on practically every corner. Yet, it seems we do a far better job moving folks from one church to the other than reaching the unreached. As the video puts it, we need to move beyond being church attenders to becoming world changers.
We’re going to think on the priorities we’ve adopted as a result of the Transformational Church process. Those priorities are worship,
community, and mission. Why these? Four reasons.
1) A pragmatic reason - Research, like the Transformational Church study conducted by Lifeway, shows that churches making a difference in their communities are focused on worship, community, and mission.
2) A biblical reason - This was the pattern of the early church.
“They worshiped together at the Temple each day (worship), met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity (community) - all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved (mission).” - Acts 2:46-47 (NLT)
3) A logical reason - Our church is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). In Acts 2:46-47, we see what activities a disciple is involved in - worship, community, and mission. We can conclude that a disciple is a follower of Christ who lives life as worship, lives life in community, and lives life on mission. As our we give priority to this three-fold focus, it is logical that we will be more effective making disciples.
4) A personal reason - One who belongs to Christ is called to be His disciple. I should seek to live life as worship, in community, and on mission. So I should be part of a church where these are priorities. If they are priorities for my church, then my participation in that church will reinforce them as priorities in my life. So let’s think together about these three priorities of our church, beginning with worship.
As we look to this passage that describes the worship experience had by the prophet Isaiah, I want us to make note of three things:
1. Worship is personal - “I saw the Lord” - v. 2
When Isaiah went to the temple, he went to a place of public worship and had a very personal encounter with God. We want the same to be true for every person who comes through the doors of our church. Yet, too often, people may come to the house of God, sing songs about God, hear messages about God, yet never really have an encounter with God.
What can you and I do to help prevent this from happening? How can we help insure that our worship services are meaningful and lead to those who join with us on Sunday experiencing a personal encounter with the living Christ?
A. We can seek to encourage others -
I read a story from a pastor who said that one Sunday morning, as he and his family were together at breakfast, his 3-year-old daughter said to him with all the innocence and honesty a 3-year-old can muster and said, “Daddy, when you get up to preach, can I go to sleep?” He said that her words were funny at first, but after a time their truth dawned on him. How many people come to the worship service to sit and “drop out” for an hour? What do you expect as you come to worship?
We need to come with a sense of expectation that is contagious! Which is one of the reasons we need to do a better job of welcoming everyone on Sunday, especially guests. As we greet one another and welcome guests, we can convey a sense of excitement and expectancy regarding the fact that we are going to have a personal encounter with God!
B. We can set an example to others -
“I loved Elvis. I followed him his whole career. I have every album he ever recorded. I’ve seen every movie that he ever made. I once even bought some boots when I was in junior high school that looked like his. My classmates made fun of them, but I didn’t care, they looked like Elvis. Later I got a face lift and a hair contour like his. I have won Elvis look alike contests and wanted him to notice so I would storm the stage during and after his concerts so he would notice me, I don’t think he ever saw me. I have ticket stubs from his concerts, Elvis clippings from programs all over the world, I even have some Elvis pillows from Japan. Yeah, Presley was my idol. My only regret was that I never really saw him. I mean really saw him. Sure, I went to his concerts, but there was no contact. I once even climbed the walls around Graceland to catch a glimpse of him. I think it might have been him that I saw walking through the house as I looked through my binoculars. But I never really saw him. It’s funny. All of the effort I put in following him and I never could seem to get close.” - Dennis Wise - Boston Globe