I find it so spiritually unsettling when I see, experience, or hear about churches and church members complain about the worship. And today, as I think about how Holy Spirit has been moving in my life, my church, and my youth group, when I think about the heart of worship God’s given me, I find it especially unsettling that so many Christians just don’t get it. For some, it’s not that they are just too stubborn or traditional, it’s just that they don’t know what the heart of worship is.
But for others, they would just rather sit in their church pews, listen to the pastor preach a sweet, encouraging message while whispering to his/her neighbor about how that same pastor should have given them this ministry, or this outreach.
Seemingly, the “Modern American Church” (as I like to call them) has either turned their nose up at, or forgotten the heart of worship.
For those of you who don’t know what I mean by “the heart of worship”, let me use this song lyric to define it for you:
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
It’s all about You,
all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it.
It’s all about You,
all about You, Jesus.
So many people don’t get worship. They simply stand at their seats and sing the songs, occasionally lifting their hands or closing their eyes, or *gasp* both! But they don’t carry with them that heart that, when in worship, says “God, I surrender all I am all to You. It’s all about You.”
Now, I come from a revival church. A non-traditional, unorthodox, Holy Spirit-filled church. A church where, when it was time to worship I had been trained from a young age not to just stand at my seat, but to literally and figuratively step out from where I was at and into the altars for worship. I cannot thank my parents enough for instilling in me that heart of worship. Without them, I would not be the man I am today. Now, 18 years of spiritual training later, my desires seem to be always focused on entering into that place of worship where I begin to open up my heart to allow the Spirit to move in me.
And now, as a youth leader, this is something I try to teach and pray into the lives of my students. I’ve been either in revival or seeking it for years now, and God has placed such a heart of worship in me (and forgive me if those post sounds very egocentric, for that is not its purpose) that I have an overwhelming desire to see my students, my peers, and the Body of Christ step into that place in worship where they begin to say: “It’s not about me or what I want, God. It’s all about You. Take my life.”
I believe that the Church is reaching a crisis of faith. Soon, church members will come to a realization about their faith and will make the choice either to pursue the manifest presence of God or to sit back and watch as the passionately hungry and thirsty are filled to overflowing. And they will miss their opportunity.
This will never be my desire, to see my brothers and sisters placate, but this is the reality of the world we live in. Some Christians want what they want. They’ve gotten all the “God” they want. Why would they possibly need more?
But it’s time for the Church to return to her purpose, which was to bring glory to God. Too many churches these days put a tight leash around their worship services; if the Spirit of God begins to stir in the atmosphere during worship, they immediately put a spiritual muzzle on Him, disallowing Him to move. There is no freedom in worship (freedom in worship can be manifested by dancing, shouting, clapping, lifting of hands, stepping into the altars, etc… There are no rules, these are just the ways in which freedom is typically manifest). Or traditional, orthodox, church elders have the worship leader backed into a corner almost saying: “I dare you to sing a contemporary worship song. Let’s just see what happens.”
Both of these are only a few instances of bondage that has been allowed to shackle itself to the Church for too long. It’s time for the Church to break away from the shackles the devil has placed on her worship and to pursue the presence of God.
For me, I find it so much easier to worship God when I step out into the altars of my church. Because I’ve been trained not to pay attention to what others think of me, I can worship without distraction. (Once again, I am so blessed and thankful for my parent’s passionate teaching and training me in the way of Christ!) I’m not saying that I’m perfect. There are times when I hold back in worship, though that is not my heart. My heart is always to, when in worship, pursue the perfect presence of God, and to pursue a radical infilling of His Holy Spirit.
Worship isn’t about lighting, or the music, or even the songs and style. Worship was created as an expression of praise and thanksgiving to God for saving us, and so that we might bring glory and honor to His name. this is what worship is all about.
I want to challenge you: if you find yourself focused on the worship leader’s song choice or style of music, perhaps you’re missing the point of worship altogether. If you find yourself not experience the level of freedom in worship that Christ desires for you, perhaps it’s time to step out from where you’re at and enter into His presence (when we step into the altars of our church, it is a prophetic move of faith that you are entering into the Holy of Holies – just as lifting our hands is a declaration of surrender).
I can tell you right now that there is no place greater than within the perfect presence of God.