I was going to title tonight’s post “Sometimes, I Hate Worship!” But I thought that may be going a little overboard. And while I wanted to get your attention, I didn’t want anyone to think that I had gone off the deep end. And let’s be honest – I really don’t “hate” worship…
But the truth be told, there are times that I am in a church service and I can hardly sit still. Maybe the music is over the top and not to my liking. Or the message is shallow and just doesn’t hit me at all. Perhaps there is a drama, or some sort of interpretive dance – honestly, I just don’t like that kind of thing in my worship experience.
There are times that I just love to sing the “Gloria Patri” or recite the Apostle’s Creed, or long for the Doxology. But there are many churches today that don’t even have a cross anywhere to be seen. And how many churches do you pass that have removed the denomination affiliation from their name? The “Baptist” church becomes the “Community” church – and I don’t mean to pick on Baptists here. It’s everywhere. Some churches are becoming a mile wide and an inch deep to try and attract more congregants…
Defining worship is a difficult thing to do. When churches get too comfortable and elements of worship become too predictable, it could signal its time for a change. It used to be that church bodies would then go out and plant a church. Anybody who loved these “odd” elements would become part of the new church and the staid membership of the “parent” church could return to their predictable, familiar forms of worship.
This gives the appearance of doing the noble thing but, in fact, older style churches use this methodology to keep their services in line with what larger donors expect. But research shows that the church is dying if the average age of its attendees is more than 35 years old. This seems difficult to believe – especially since younger folks generally don’t have the financial power to fund the church. A dilemma starts.
The answer in today’s world is multi-cultural, multi-generational worship. That means that we, as Christians, are all wired differently. We have different backgrounds, different musical tastes, different levels of spiritual maturity and differing views on what is acceptable in the worship experience. And God knows we have different political affiliations.
That means when you attend church, you should probably expect that there will be elements of worship that you will love – and some that you will not like at all. You know what? That’s good for you – and the health of the church. Because the very things that you don’t like may very well appeal to congregants of different age groups or backgrounds. That means the church is healthier because it isn’t all one flavor.
After all, we are all of the body of Christ. But each of us is wired divinely for a specific purpose. Our spiritual gifts, passions and styles are unique to us – God ordained. So it stands to reason that we won’t all like the same stuff. And that’s okay – because it means that we haven’t created other churches to keep our own worship experience predictable and familiar.
So the next time you are sitting in a service and and you can barely stand the musical selections, you can probably look around and find people who are absolutely loving the very thing that you are cringing about. The same goes for modern dance, dramas, certain kinds of messages or even pre-recorded sermons that are broadcast on a screen for consumption. So, yes, sometimes I just can’t stand elements of worship.
Our verse for tonight highlights the fact that we are all children of God and form ONE body. The strongest churches are those where all the spiritual gifts are represented and present – and yes, it can be uncomfortable for those of us who are used to a particular worship experience.
Our verse for tonight comes from the apostle Paul and his first letter to the church at Corinth. Paul affirms that we are united as one body with many different types of members but in the end, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul tells his church, and us, in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” KJV
My encouragement this evening is that God expects us to be tolerant and to reach out to those brothers and sisters who may enjoy a worship experience far different from what we would choose. My prayer is that we will revel in those worship elements that we enjoy – while realizing that others may appreciate those facets of worship that try our patience. God created us all. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…