11 January, 2006

Re-Igniting the Fire In the Church

People in my church will probably tire of hearing me talk about this, but God has been dealing with me for weeks about making sure that the fire does not go out in my life nor the church. I am convinced that a key to tending the fire is in found in our worship. Not only in our corporate worship, but even more so in our private worship. Months ago in this blog I made the statement about worship that you will never feel free to do something in worship in public that you have not already learned to practice in private. I really wonder how many Christian people actually worship God in private?
Something tells me that most do not.

I was thinking this afternoon about a seminar I went to at Trinity Chapel in Powder Springs, Georgia last May. Robert Stearns was there and taught part of the seminar. He was speaking on worship, and he talked about how our worship must be passionate and intimate with the Lord. He wrote a book entitled, "Keepers of the Flame" in which he talks about developing a lifestyle of worship and intercession, and that each of us must become and take seriously our priestly responsibility of the altar and presenting an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. (Great book that I highly recommend) I believe with all my heart that real revival will not come until the church refocuses and perceives that worship is a key... and that worship is far more than singing a few songs. Worship is a lifestyle that must be developed and honed until all that we do brings glory and honor unto the Lord.

Here is a question that Stearns asks in the book that made me stop and think: "Is God present in our worship?"
Well, yes, God is always present, but is He being touched by our worship? So much of the time our worship is really about us, and making us "feel" better, as we call it, "being touched." But worship is supposed to touch God, to minister to Him... to lift Him up and maginify Him before all the earth.
Does our worship accomplish this?

Your thoughts? Comments?
I will add more later.


Sean McKee said...

Maybe people do not know what 'private worship' looks like...

Libby said...

I think many people don't really understand how to worship God with their lives. And many certainly do not understand that singing praises, raising hands, dancing before the Lord and praying in the Spirit are not activities limited to Sundays.

Sadly, I believe we as leadership have failed for years in teaching this. I believe we have also failed in instruction regarding who the Holy Spirit is and what His role is in our lives. We just assume everyone knows this because it is such common knowledge for us. We have strayed from the roots of teaching. We need to return to the foundation of where understanding begins. We need to get teaching back in the churches. Maybe we can't find qualified teachers because we have neglected to train them!

Sean McKee said...

Libby has it, Churches are not teaching the church go'er Christianity. They are teaching people how to be good, moral, nice, successful people. Some may not see the difference, but the difference is night and day. C.S. Lewis refers to it as "Nice People or New Men".

The ‘end game’ can not be ‘Nice People’, it must be ‘New Men’. There is sermon after sermon about how to be a good husband, good wife, good friend, how to overcome smoking, drinking, over-eating...

Teach us to be Holy, not nice. --Holy people are good husbands, good wives, etc.

I truly believe that if Christian's could get a true grasp on who God is, what He has done for us, and saved us from, we could not help but worship Him.

Give people a Hunger for God.

Teach Christians about God, Jesus, and Satan, about Heaven and Hell, about man, sin, and salvation. This will make 'New Men' and worshipers who just happen to be nice.

A nice sinner is still going to Hell. A Regenerate sinner is going to Heaven.

Neil said...

Awesome Stuff! By the way, I really like Robert Stearns!

Could some of the issue be as other posters have indicated a lack of teaching on true worship? Not only has the church determined to grow by becoming user friendly, but we assume that people know and understand what to do. So when I as a sinner come to the altar and give my life to Christ, it is assumed that I now know what to do next, how I am to live and to respond to what is taking place around me. I'm met by welcome to the family brother, when I walked in I was just Neil. I don't think we should water down what we say and do, I just think we should be willing to explain from the Bible why we do it, and without becoming defensive. Including a why we do what we do section in our church information is a good place to start, include verse as to why we lift our hands, sing and speak in tongues, shout and dance...etc, and when some one asks about sister so and so shouting or falling in the floor, be willing to patiently explain it, rather than feeling like you're defending your faith...they just want to know. Many will go there with you if you show them the way. If our worship is authentic it will affect someone else!

Sarah said...

Ok, so here are my thoughts on the situation and it is long. I am only stating personal opinion.

I totally agree with what Neil says, [QUOTE] I just think we should be willing to explain from the Bible why we do it, and without becoming defensive. Including a why we do what we do section in our church information is a good place to start, include verse as to why we lift our hands, sing and speak in tongues, shout and dance...etc, and when some one asks about sister so and so shouting or falling in the floor, be willing to patiently explain it[/QUOTE]

I am very hesitant to do anything just because it is common place in a church service. I want to know why. In every thing I do, I want there to be meaning not just repetition.

Also, a different issue I have is ......you guessed right over thinking. I have a hard time with being candid. Everything is premeditated. So, does that mean it isn't true? Once I have thought of something previously, is it now my "routine"? I know on most songs when people will raise their hands. Mostly, due to words or the nature of the songs. Is that meaningful or is it "Oh, this is the part where we lift our hands"? Also, do we only praise God during the in-between of songs? I tend to believe sometimes that people are uncomfortable with silence and feel a need to fill that second or two interlude.

I'm not being disrespectful or challenging these are just my thoughts. Last Sunday, all I wanted to do was jump - bounce. I have no idea if that is a biblical thing or music thing. I didn't do it because I couldn't think of any meaning behind it. Should I have "jumped"? I don't know, I still haven't found an answer. But now that I've thought about it, is it meaningful?

Sean McKee said...

I think we are getting close. I have been studing the reformers. The reformers considered faith to consist of 3 things.

Notitia: the Data, Evidence, or Knowledge.
Assensus: to Intellectually Acknowledge as True the Claim(s) Statement.
Fiducia: to Appropriate what One Knows to be True for Themselves.

More on 3 parts of faith, see here: http://www.apologeticsinfo.org/outlines/faithandreason.html

The key to what we are talking about here is the first Notitia: Knowledge. Think of this, How can you have faith in something that you don't know about. If you say you believe in God BUT your idea of God is flawed or wrong then do you have 'proper' faith. Example. If I say believe in 'the God of the bible' but have never read the bible.

I think the 'old-timer' would say that what is lacking is teaching Doctrine.

We have told Christian what they should 'profess' and 'do' without teaching them why it is so. I is the 'Because I said so' arguement.

michigan preacher said...

Worship seems to find a spot next to prayer and study in Christian people these days. That is, it's what we do on Sunday. Now, I'm suer that they don't sit down and say that, but actions speak louder than words. Call it busyness, or not enough time in a day, but these practices get shelved a lot. I do my best to make it a priority each day to spend time in prayer, worship,praise and study. Drawing close to Him.

You know, I do think a lack of teaching can be attributed in part, but I think that people for the most part just don't take the time. I could be wrong, and I'm sure I am. But, from my experience, my lack of worship wasn't because it wasn't preached, I just neglected that time.

Libby said...

I agree that as seasoned pentecostal Christians we are often times simpy neglectful in what we know to do, but I have had the opportunity to speak with several just recently who did not grow up with the same rich training and heritage I was afforded and I am convinced they simply don't know how. I know these people and I know their hearts. They sincerely want to do what God wants them to do but they just honestly don't know what true worship is. Thank God they are asking questions and searching their Bibles. I pray God sends even more people with hearts like these to our church!