I have struggled with worship services for years. I have attended small churches (25-150), medium sized churches (350-400), a large church (1000-1500), and a mega church (7,000-11,000) and in each church I struggled with the services. As I sit back and reflect on the churches, I feel as if there is something missing, and for years I haven’t been able to put my finger on it.
In the Webber piece (1st in the reader), he talks about how the church’s focus should be on joining in with the story of God (an objective experience). He compares this with the way it really is – us telling God how worthy he is and how much we love him (a subjective experience).
When we travel somewhere, my job is to drive (Stephanie’s job is to fall asleep). So I get tons of time to think about things. This weekend as we drove home, I was rolling the idea of worship as an alternate reality. I had heard somebody use this term, but it had never sunk in. As we were going for a while, I began to realize what is meant here: as we worship we are living our lives completely differently – we view reality differently.
Worship is the understanding reality that all our attempts at power and security are futile. It rejects the upward movement mindset of capitalism, the struggle between economic stratospheres of Marxism, and religion’s struggle with becoming a better, more enlightened being. Worship is the recognition that God is in control, that he is acting within history, He is truly holding all things together, and then submitting our lives to his lordship.
When we make worship about the subjective and not the objective we end up missing the story as we only begin to focus on our needs and ourselves. We become the main players in the story, and God becomes just a deity to appease. As worship becomes about us, we very quickly lose the ability to see the world for the way it truly is. This is because we’re only concerned with ourselves. Worship only becomes self-expression.
When worship is about self-expression, we begin to have “worship wars” as people are concerned with their personal preference. As self-expression drives worship, worship often becomes about performing. It becomes hollow, repetitive, and meaningless. It becomes a race to say the most dramatic, the most expressive, and the most ______ statement possible-even if it isn’t necessarily true.
When worship is presenting an alternate reality it becomes something that is exciting. It becomes something that is alive with possibilities. It becomes hopeful. It drives us to become different people. It connects us with the mind of God. It leads us to new places. It is not repetitive, nor is it hollow. This is what I have been missing all these years…