This is a continuation of a series on the importance of regular worship of God.
2. The Church’s Role
How does the church play a role in all this? When we talk about worship, the first thing we think of is “church.”
Worship usually takes place within a church (the building); by the church (the people); and according to the church (the denomination’s or universal church’s traditions). The Greek word translated as “church” in the New Testament is ekklesia, which has the sense of a people being called out of the world. Placing that in a worship context, it refers to calling people out of their day-to-day life to gather together in a sacred time and space. Worship can breathe life into the community of Christ’s followers, especially after a tough week of stress, problems, and maybe even conflict.
God works through the church to make disciples, and worship plays an essential role in this process. For example, most people attend worship in a church for a period of time before making a commitment to Christ. Often as a result of their worship experiences, they will receive Christ as Lord and Savior, and become his disciples.
In worship, we express love for God and one another, and we experience God’s love and grace, offered freely to us. This becomes especially meaningful when we have become his disciples. So the results of the communal worship experience are to form and strengthen communities; shape souls to be more consistent with God’s will; correct self-interest – turn people from self-centeredness to compassionate and caring; and bind people to God and to each other.
Another way of looking at it is to say that through worship people seek to connect with God; they allow God’s Word to shape them; and then they respond in faith because of the work of the Holy Spirit. Are you open to the leading of the Holy Spirit as you participate in worship?
Passionate Worship in Particular
All of these things should happen in worship, but let’s examine what passionate worship means. Passionate worship engages the intellect as well as the heart. Regarding the intellect, worshipers learn about he content of their faith. They learn about God, Jesus, the stories of Scripture, morals and ethics, the practice of their faith, and gain some insight about the world around them.
Regarding the heart, worshipers are helped to grow in mercy and hope, as well as to experience grace and learn to receive and give forgiveness. In passionate worship, the heart senses the Holy Spirit through the music, the prayers, the stories, the fellowship, and the sacraments.
Sometimes we react to that sensing of the Holy Spirit with tears, or a feeling of overwhelming love, or some other emotion that often surprises us. These emotional responses result from the Holy Spirit touching us in a profound way that goes deep to our inner being. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about when you react to the Holy Spirit’s moving in you – it shows you have a sensitive spirit. Passionate worship eliminates all distractions, is authentic, and is focused on God that also touches us in a way that goes beyond intellectual assent.
In conclusion, let’s ask ourselves some questions.
·Am I allowing God’s Spirit to form me, change me, and transform me though the worship experience?
·Am I allowing myself to be challenged, sustained, and led the God’s Spirit?
·Is my week better because I attended worship on Sunday?
·Do I feel welcomed and supported as a part of Christ’s church?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then ask yourself “why not?”
The answer could be in your attitude, your approach to worship, or other factors that are preventing you from experiencing passionate worship. Don’t allow distractions to disconnect you from an encounter with God. Worship is our gift to God, but also God’s gift to us. Your spiritual vitality comes from passionate worship as a body of believers in a place where God changes hearts, redeems souls, and transforms lives. Don’t miss out on God’s best for you.
Note that some thoughts in this post are based on the book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schnase, Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tennessee. © 2007 Robert Schnase