Saturday, March 5, 2011

Scraping away the Barncle of "Worship"

Worship. Perhpas the most attractive and trendy church-word in circulation. It is the focus of church marketing and professional aspirations. It hasn't always been like this. When I was in college 30 years ago, the trendy area of institutional church-life (barnacle?) was Christian Education. It was the church staff position that was hired first after the pastor. People were into "education" and Sunday School was all the rage.

Not anymore. Where it used to be that the first building project a church would embark on was an education annex, it is now the "worship center". The church staff position in the greatest demand is "worship leader". The talk among church consumers is comparing worship environments- the best band, the light and stage, and of course, the presence of God that is felt when they "worship".

And yet, the Bible never defines "worship" as the 20 to 30 minute musical experience that is a key ingredient to the weekly church service. Paul defined worship in Romans 12:1-2 as sacrificial living. He never included soft lights that accompany slow music with relevant words and an acoustic guitar.

Worship is breathing. Worship is acting. Worship is loving (God and others). Worship is working. Worship is eating chips. Worship is exercising. Worship is.......LIFE. Life as a follower of Jesus isn't segmented by periods of time on the Sunday morning clock. Life in Jesus is just that- LIFE, everything! This would include time spent in the buildings we call "churches".

But, please, let's stop elevating music time on Sundays (re: worship) to a place that limits what it is. Let's explore life in Jesus and let our songs and gatherings reflect transformation in our expressions.

It may be hard to admit (and Whelks no doubt are uncomforatble on barnacles) but our church music time is simply reflecting if not competing with the music culture of our time. Flashy and enegetic events driven my celebrities in whom the audience can vicariously identify are what people pay for at rock concerts. The church simply offers the same thing hoping for some monetary response when the offering plates are past.

All of this hoopla has become synonymous with "the presence of the Lord". I can't tell you how many times I've heard (and perhaps said) "the Lord was so powerfully present in the worship today". Really? How do we know? Is it because we felt warm spiritual fuzzies or perhaps we even cried?

God no doubt is merciful to our need for such tangible witnesses. Unfortunately, we who limit God in such ways may be missing dimensions of truth simply because the reality of God's presence may transcend my limited expectations and definitions.

But we are hard pressed to find a collection of people who would be willing to take the courageous and risky position to be independent of the institutional accoutrements and "experience" God on His terms and not ours.

Imagine: "worship" that is not domesticated in a live band....hmmmm.

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