Summary: This is the fourth message in the series "Disciple." This message looks at worship in the life of the disciple.
“Disciple: Following the Path of Jesus”
Part 4 – Worship
NewSong Church – 09/23/07
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Video: Sportscasters – The Big Sunday [full clip]
The Big Sunday
While that video definitely is intended to be a humorous exaggeration, it sheds more truth than many care to admit on the modern day practice and expression of worship.
For many churches, Sunday is the main day of gathering for church members. The members come to a church service that is set to begin at a specific time each week. They greet others as they arrive, welcoming them and engaging in light conversation about the week gone by. As the beginning of the service draws closer, they make their way into the worship hall and find comfortable seats in which to spend the next hour or so growing closer to God.
Joel Kilpatrick, author of the satirical book “A Field Guide to Evangelicals” writes:
“Welcome to an evangelical church service! Whether you chose a small corner church or a mega-center with reclining theater seats and a Jumbotron, the service will offer nearly identical features: praise and worship time, a sermon, and five opportunities to give money.
The service begins with “praise and worship.” No matter what the style, when worship starts, people will stand up. You may suddenly be surrounded by noisy, clapping, singing evangelicals.
You are now witnessing evangelicals’ most important time of community bonding and expression. In worship they achieve the same state of collective bliss teens experience at a rock concert or Manhattanites experience at the latest Tony Kushner play. The quality of worship time is so important that it sets the mood for evangelicals’ entire week. If worship time is too short or less-than-ecstatic, disappointed evangelicals find themselves in a funk by Wednesday. You might hear them say, “What an awful week. Worship time on Sunday was terrible, and things just went downhill from there.”
While the author’s intent was to gently poke fun, the point is made: many churches and many people, whether believer or seeker, do not understand the purpose and practice of worship.
What has happened is this: instead of seeking to continually and constantly develop spiritual lives that are overflowing with sincere awe and fear, admiration and respect – with worship - of God, the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth
Instead of discovering the depth of expression that we are capable of showing to the One who saved us and redeemed us. Instead of living in the midst of all creation – which the Word of God tells us is proclaiming the greatness of our God at all times – and realizing that we are part of that creation and joining in that proclamation of the majesty and beauty of the One Who is Worthy
We have settled for a formula; we have put together a recipe; we have devised a way to break down the spiritual, supernatural act of faith that is worship into a schematic
I touched on this a couple weeks ago when we were looking at the topic of prayer. There are many people who pray the Lord’s Prayer and every time, no matter how many times throughout the day they recite it, the prayer is fresh and meaningful and they experience through the recitation a powerful experience of God’s presence. There are others who could pray it once a year, twice a month, a few times an hour and it will never become more than 47 seconds of memorized lines.
That’s because formulas have a problem when they are applied to us – go to the self-help or self-improvement section of any bookstore and within moments you will see the latest guides: weight loss tips, marriage and relationship help, career and personal success guidelines, achieving life goals, preventing hair loss, wrinkles and bad breath… the list goes on, each week bringing another best-seller that guarantees to show you the “real” right way and promises that this time it will actually work no matter how many times you’ve tried before.
I was watching a show called “Top Chef” the other day, and the contestants were given a challenge to recreate a famous dish served in a high-end restaurant. The first chef to attempt the recreation was very talented, trained in the best schools, mentored by leading chefs from around the world. His technique was flawless, his recreation of the dish near perfect.
But in interviews with some of his fellow contestant chefs, they all said the same thing: that while he was an excellent technical chef, he lacked “soul” and love for his work. He didn’t have a passion for food. One chef observed, “You can tell a dish that has been made with that extra bit of something that goes beyond the ingredients that are in it. It’s something from the heart.”