worshipFor most of us when we think of worship we think of gathering ourselves together within the confines of a building somewhere to pray and talk about God.  For many, many Christians in North America at least this has come to describe the first part of a service where we sing together.  Having been a worship leader for almost two decades it has for several of those years been my definition as well.

Worship has been a source of great contention and fighting in churches throughout history.  Charles Spurgeon even called the worship team “the war department” because worship has always been a subject which causes people to argue.  How many songs do we sing.  What kind of songs can we sing.  Are there musical instruments allowed?

I have begun to realize over the years that we have completely missed the boat in regards to worship.  Because worship was never meant to be about us.  Music isn’t even needed for worship to happen.  I have left many services over the years, ones that I have led, and others where I have been a participant, and have often heard people say “wasn’t worship powerful?”, and the opposite “worship didn’t do anything today.”.  I have had people say they didn’t like the music I chose.  I have had people refuse to take part except when songs they like to sing were played.  I have been involved in discussions where people demanded that chorus be used instead of hymns.

I think we have walked away from true worship and have begun to worship worship.  We value the songs, the lyrics, or the rhythms that we like and discard everything else.  We take part when we feel like it, depending on how spiritual , or how difficult or easy our week has been.  I have struggled to take part myself when I was feeling low or tired.  But worship was never meant to be about us.

When we allow our preferences and passions to determine our worship we focus on ourselves and what we want.  And worship was meant to be all about Jesus, letting our love and hunger for Him express itself.  Worship is about proclaiming God’s value and glory.  It is about focusing on and valuing God simply for who He is.

Worship is about our lives placed before our creator and exalting the one who made us, and redeemed us.  Wolfgang Simson wrote “worship has much more to do with Spirit-filled obedience (Romans 12:1-2) than with music and singing “worship” songs. Our worship must center on the unquestioning readiness to lay aside life, limb, possessions, family, house, friendships, evangelical respectability—everything—to see the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covering the earth as the waters cover the sea.  Worship is not so much what we do but how we do it; not so much what we say or sing but how we are a living sacrifice.”

We have allowed ourselves to walk away from the passion and power of lives lived in surrender and allowing our lives, hearts and voices to give expression to the greatness and awesome splendor of the King of kings who spoke the entire world into being, and knows every star by name, and still has time to know how many hairs are on our heads.  We serve an incredible and awesome God and we need to return again to the true roots of worship, and become the worshipers God is seeking after.  Indeed, the time is coming, and it is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for people like that to worship him. John 4:23 GWT

Putting on a show


Our world is changing almost every night. Every day we are confronted with new changes and new directions. What used to take decades to happen now seems to happen overnight. I am always amazed at the speed our world is moving in and how fast life is changing.

Into that world we have the church. The bride of Christ which is scripturally meant to bring and release the life of God into the world we live in and to be the message of God that He desires to know and be known by us. And we have a church that doesn’t change. The methods and manners we used to convey the life of God to the world don’t work and haven’t worked for many years. We struggle to bring the life of God into our lives let alone our congregations. And the world is taking notice. Statistically the world desires to know God. The interest in spiritual matters has never been higher. The interest in the church is at an all time low. Our world, and unfortunately a great many people who call themselves Christians want nothing to do with the church.

Recently I have been struggling with this idea, because the church that I love dearly isn’t living up to it’s God given potential. People are walking away from the church in droves. Some estimates are over 1,000,000 people walk away from our churches every year. The church has always been God’s method of reaching into the world. There has been only one plan. It started with the children of Israel being called to bring the nations of the world to knowing the God they served and has continued on to the New Testament church. We have a message. God wants to be known.

I think that people are walking away because we have been actors on a stage. It sounds terrible, but I think it is true. We believe in Jesus. We surrender our lives to Him. We receive His gift of an intimate relationship with Him. And we sit still and talk about the amazing bible verses we read, or the powerful sermon we heard. We say we believe that God moves today and that Jesus wants to touch peoples lives today. When we read verses like John 14:12 “ I tell you the truth: whoever believes in Me will be able to do what I have done, but they will do even greater things, because I will return to be with the Father.” (Voice) we believe that God can use us to release His life and power on the earth today. And we have as much affect as a wet noodle trying to cut bread.

The people around us hear the message we say, and see the lives that we live and don’t want what we have. Because it isn’t real. It for the most part is an act. Something we say but don’t live out. And people are leaving churches and want nothing to do with them. I feel it is time for the church and the people of God to be who God called them to be. We don’t need another worship CD. And we don’t need another teaching. We do need however the life and power of God to be in us, so that it can move through us.

I was reading recently and something I read gripped my heart and soul. Wolfgang Simson wrote“We need to change from being powerful actors to people who act powerfully.” For to long the church has lived below her potential and acted as though nothing was wrong. We have accepted the reality of the world we live in and made excuses for the life and power of God not being released in us. We don’t need to pursue manifestations and signs which have turned many people against the church. We need the life and power of God simply being in us. People need to see Jesus. We have a lost and broken world all around us which God desperately loves. We have a church which offers rules, regulations, judgements and criticisms and little else. We attempt to offer a community which sings and listens to someone talk, but with little to no life, and definitely no power. Time for the church to awaken to the world around us, and seek hard after the heart of God. Time to stop putting on an act and allow God to change us into His image, and to empower us. And it is time to take Jesus out into our world. It was never meant to be a religious exercise, but an outflow of an inward condition which release life and power that changes and transforms people and brings God to His people.