In Worship,​ we Gather, are Nurtured and Sent on Mission

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This four-week journey into worship has been interesting. I was not sure where God would lead this, but I do know I heard warnings from friends of “tread lightly.” Sad that worship is a touchy subject. People wrongly assumed I would pick sides on disagreements about traditional liturgical forms vs. more free-flowing forms (I refuse to get into the contemporary language argument). All worship should apply to today’s audience. Wrapping this series up in a nice little package, let me leave you with this final charge. No matter what side of the worship discussion you fall, we can all agree worship must extend beyond Sunday morning. I love this quote. “Can we really call it worship if it is not followed by service? It is a mockery to praise the Lord inside church walls unless we tell others about Him outside those walls![1]

Some Stunning Facts:

Churches in the United States have about $80 billion invested in real estate, mostly in church and Sunday school buildings. This represents about 80% of total resources of religious bodies in this country.

It has been estimated that America’s nearly 400,000 churches show a facility utilization rate of only 1%. This means the average church makes full use of its property and equipment for about one hour for every 168 hours in the week. No architectural structure is used so sparingly in the world.[2]

Do we still have a sense of urgency? Do we preach with a sense of expectancy that Christ could return at any moment? Jesus says that should be our approach. In Matthew, He says, “Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know what day the Lord is coming. 43 But you understand that if the head of the house knew at what time the thief would come, he would keep alert and wouldn’t allow the thief to break into his house. 44 Therefore, you also should be prepared, because the Human One will come at a time you don’t know.”

I wonder if the struggle in worship becoming a Sunday morning only focus has something to do with the shift in our thinking.

In early centuries, churches were built with the pulpit on the east end. The sun rises in the east, and believers were supposed to look to the east for Christ’s return (Matt. 21:27).

During the Reformation, the pulpit was moved from the side of the nave, and people were positioned around it as focus point (amphitheater style). There was a separate room for the Lord’s Supper with a long table for the people to sit.

In the third century, basilicas had east ends raised a little, with a “bishop’s chair” at its center, from where he preached and was surrounded by presbyters. In front of him was the Lord’s Table, around which deacons grouped.

Today, many church buildings incorporate the above features: amphitheater-styled seating around the pulpit, with a raised platform.[3]

Returning to the Heart of Worship

When I began this series in the back of my mind this song was on my mind and heart.

 

The Heart of Worship

written by Matt Redman

When the music fades

and all is stripped away

and I simply come.

Longing just to bring

something that’s of worth

that will bless Your heart.

 

I’ll bring You more than a song,

for a song in itself

is not what You have required.

You search much deeper within,

through the way things appear,

You’re looking into my heart.

 

I’m coming back to the heart of worship

and it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.

I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it

when it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.

Worship is so much deeper than hearing our favorite religious hymns or the pastor stepping up into a pulpit which is now becoming the focal point and nailing a sermon that moves your heart to action. The very heart of worship is all about Jesus. Jesus had a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:24. As she comes seeking answers on how to repair her broken life. He turns the conversation to living water and also to worship. And worship is not about the temple. He says if you want to truly worship God then you need to understand worship. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The essence of worship is not the many good externals. It is not about the forms, it is not about the music, nor the emotions you can create. Worship at its core is about the heart and head. Spirit and truth. God in worship through the working of the Holy Spirit, stirs our innermost being and connects us mysteriously to God, his Son; the gospel proclaimed, offers forgiveness, and then sends us on the mission to tell those who don’t know. While on the mission we tell them, what God has done for us and them through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We gather as a community, to be fed and equipped to be sent on the mission.

[1]Hobbs, H. H. (1990). My favorite illustrations(p. 272). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times(p. 1652). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

[3]Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times(p. 1652). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

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