Pastors, are we doing our people a disservice? I know we are all busy men working for God and His kingdom but are we missing the point of church? Let us start by addressing one common misconception:
John 4:20-24 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. (21) Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. (22) Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. (23) But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
All the references to worship is the same word:
G4352 proskuneo / pros-koo-neh’-o From G4314 and probably a derivative of G2965 (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand); to fawn or crouch to, that is, (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore): – worship. (1)
We get our word prostrate from this word.
I remember reading a story about a man who found a sick little dog in the dead of a cold northeast winter. Someone had played a cruel trick on the poor animal and tied a string of cans to its tail and he had gotten tangled up on a lamp post. This man untangled the dog, put him in his coat, took him home and fed him. He gave him a warm bed and regular care. The sick dog got better. Every day the dog would wait at the door waiting for the man to get home. One lazy Saturday afternoon the man dozed off in his recliner. When he awoke at a wet sensation on his hand, he looked down to an adoring set of dog eyes looking up at him, kissing the hand that had saved his life.
The fact is that worship is an attitude not an action. If we are reverencing or adoring God even the most menial task can be acts of worship, even mopping the floor or doing dishes (a la Brother Lawrence in Practicing The Presence of God). That is why I have an issue with the title “worship leader” because it is sending a message that once the singing is over the worship has stopped.
I was attending a church services where there was much fine praise (remember praise does not equal worship) and the Spirit of God was moving but it went past worship into emotionalism, fanaticism from some points. I was not genuine worship but more like displays of “Look at me!” It past a point and it was no longer glorifying to God. And that is where the Pastor needs to step in and restore order. Instead we go comments like “if you are not getting yours you need to get to the alter and get right with God!” (and that is a direct quote) and “we may not have time to get to the message tonight so we just will worship God!”
If the point of church is to worship God it should begin with the praise, but it should not end there. Our giving is part of our worship. The Bible message is part of our worship. In fact, all we do in word or deed should be part of worshipping God (at work, at home, everywhere, not just church) remembering that worship is an attitude not and action. But it is good and appropriate to me to start with praise.
Psalms 100:1-2,4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. (2) Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing…(4) Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
So we understand that when we sing we usher ourselves into the presence of the Lord. Remember Paul and Silas in the jail cell?
Acts 16:25-26 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. (26) And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And suddenly there was a great earthquake.
An extraordinary and unusual one; which did not arise from natural causes, from wind being pent up in the earth, but from the prayers and praises of the saints, going up to heaven; when God was pleased to testify his presence and power this way; and the effects which followed upon this earthquake, show it to be a supernatural one. When we praise God, He does show up.But we cannot be content to stop there, there are other more pressing reasons for church. I will share two of the with you today.
Fellowship and Exhortation
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Exhorting: G3870 parakaleo par-ak-al-eh’-o From G3844 and G2564; to call near, that is, invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): – beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray. (2)
So we can encourage, pray for, lift up one another. This is good and appropriate for the church to do for one another.
Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
If we are not using the time God has given to us to expound the Word of God, we are missing a big point. Praise will not change lives. Singing will not set men free. It is by the foolishness of preaching people are saved. The Bible must be expounded. Through the teaching of the Bible it says saints are perfected (and the word saint just means a saved person) and perfecting does not mean sinless but being prepared to do the work God has called them to do, the Work of the ministry. The various functions both inside and outside of the church, and edifying the Body of Christ.
It would be better to look at the church as a school for the saints helping to prepare them for the Christian life. Other things can happen during church (people save, healed) That is a result of the Holy Spirit showing up and anointing the Word of God. It was once said that the Spirit without the Word leads to emotionalism and the Word without the Spirit leads to legalism. Both are needed.