Summary: Genuine worship informs the mind about God, inundates the heart with the Spirit, and initiates the body into Christ-likeness.
On April 21st of last years the Associated Press reported:
Another round and amen! Beer was on tap and a mechanical bull inspired the sermon as a new church held its inaugural service in a western Ohio bar. The Country Rock Church drew about 100 people to Sunday night’s meeting at the Pub Lounge in Sidney, 35 miles north of Dayton. The barroom church is an offshoot of Sidney United First Methodist Church, whose head pastor says he’s been looking for creative ways to reach people in unconventional places. The church’s Web site for its new branch advertises “Top regional bands, pizza, wings, rowdy fun & a short message.” The Rev. Chris Heckaman says people really seemed to enjoy themselves so he expects the Country Rock Church will meet weekly. Heckaman’s sermon compared staying on the bar’s mechanical bull to learning how to get along in life.
David Tscherne sermonnews.com
Is this what worship has come to in the United States? Must churches now go to these lengths to attract customers? I have finally figured out why worship is boring and unappealing to so many in our culture: expectation.
If you view worship as a religious duty that you perform to maintain some kind of standing as a good Christian, you have a faulty expectation and you will be bored. I have a pastor friend who, this week, shared with me how he’d taught his people that not attending worship is a sin. Although I think it’s true to some extend, that perspective is just a partial picture. If you view worship as a way to avoid sin, you have a faulty expectation and you will be bored. If you arrive with idea of being entertained or, to put it in Christianese, “get something out of it” you have a faulty expectation and you will be bored.
What’s the point of worship? What should we expect? I’m glad you asked. Back when I was a young preacher I was naïve enough to ask questions like this: “How do you know when you’ve really worshipped?” I once put that question to several colleagues and none of them could give me a coherent answer. The best they could do was, “Well, you just know.” I now have an answer for that question. How do you know when you’ve worshipped? You walked away a little bit more like Jesus.
At its heart worship is an encounter with the Lord that leads to a response. It’s coming face to face with the living God and leaving a changed person. If you’re not being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ you’re not worshipping.
But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2
Ultimately our character will be purified and perfected. We will be righteous just like Jesus. Worship is an opportunity to get the process going in this life. Worship, when it’s done right, let’s us see the Lord and gives the potential of character change when we come away from His presence.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesian believers he knew that they were geographically situated to impact much of the Roman Empire with the Good News of Jesus. He knew that to have influence they’d need to be people who thought, spoke, and behaved a lot like Jesus. In order to be like Jesus they’d need to be transformed people. For that to happen they’d need to meet Him face to face. This requires worship. Genuine worship informs the mind about God, inundates the heart with the Spirit, and initiates the body into Christ-likeness.
We can see the genius of Paul’s letter in the way he begins. Rather than launch into a strategic vision for the church or lay out practical rules for living the Christian life, he first leads them into worship. Verses 3 through 14 are something on the order of a song of praise or, better yet, a doxology honoring the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In modern lingo, Paul was “riffing” his praise unto the triune God. He begins with worship to lead his listeners into life change.
This is why we should gather together whenever we’re able with other Christians. This is why we should seek moments every day to connect with God. We can worship and walk away a little bit more like Jesus. Before that can happen must change our expectations. Even when we intentionally approach times of worship, we need to do so consciously seeking the conditions for catalytic worship. We must make sure we’re looking for the right things in it.
Conditions for Catalytic Worship
Let me say this again: Genuine worship informs the mind about God, inundates the heart with the Spirit, and initiates the body into Christ-likeness. We begin with the mind or intellection or reason. When we seek to worship here in the church building together or at home with our families or in private we must begin with this condition: