I was shut off for two days from the internet. My computer crashed, and with Stephen gone, I was a bit like a lost puppy. So, I had this novel idea and picked up a book, spent time in prayer and read my Bible. Maybe this little computer crash was ordained. Whether it was or not, I made good use of my time.
I started thinking about my church and ministry. Lately I have felt restless. I have felt this overwhelming burden for our people. So often I see people in our church come on Sunday, get truly excited about God, but go out and make the same mistakes again and again that keeps them from deepening their faith. We offer the hope of Christ, a new life, a better way to live, but without obedience and discipline, the faith of our people can not grow deeper.
I have been thinking about the music and the songs we do. So much of our worship service focuses on celebration and joy. Many people in our church are struggling through all sorts of difficulties, so on Sunday we have tried to encourage our congregation, and bring hope. Our music is lively, rockin and joyous, but I have been wrestling with this idea of creating idols.
When does the worship service become entertainment? When do we worship the music and not the Savior? Am I trying to please the crowd or am I trying to teach the disciplines of a life of worship?
I just read the book “Divine Commodity” and am now wrestling through this idea that we have allowed our consumer mindset to control what we do in the church. For example: we shop for churches based on what they can provide for us, and how good the sermon and music is and how much we like it. It’s sort of like buying a house or furniture. What about relationship and fellowship? Are we seeking this first or more worried about being entertained? I love receiving compliments on the music but what if I led the crowd into a silent meditation on the Lord? Our crowd often suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and it’s common for people to get up in the middle of the service to go outside and smoke and come back in. Could they sit still for silence? Where is the discipline? I admit I want church to make me feel good, but Christ did not call us to a life that feels good. He called us to a life of taking up our cross and following Him no matter what the cost.
Sally Morgenthaler writes:
“We are not producing worshippers in this country. Rather we are producing a generation of spectators, religious onlookers lacking, in many cases, any memory of a true encounter with God, deprived of both the tangible sense of God’s presence and the supernatural relation their inmost spirits crave.”
Tonight I wrestle with these thoughts. I wrestle with my own attitudes toward church and confess that it is easy to want to please the crowd on Sunday morning. I wrestle with the lack of true fellowship in my own life and realize that too often I get caught up in “doing ministry” rather than being in relationship with others. I get caught up in wanting to please a crowd with a song so they will respond by singing and clapping. Forgive me Lord for forgetting what my purpose is. God is so much greater than what I can bring and I need to remember that He is the only one that can draw people into His presence and a supernatural relationship. My job is to be a tool for Him to use, but really, He doesn’t need me at all.
I have realized that I need to practice some disciplines in my own life before I can expect to lead others in these disciplines. When I was younger, I use to spend a lot of time in silence before the Lord. I remember sitting on the dock on Lake Whatcom and marveling at God’s beauty and silently listening to His voice. Wow, I just don’t do that anymore. Certainly there are quiet places to sit and marvel, but I don’t take the time. I often rush through my devotions like I always have some place to go and something to do.
Monday I am traveling with Compassion to Ecuador. I will write more about that later, but I will not have a roommate on this trip and I won’t have a computer with me. I won’t be blogging much and I will be a bit out of touch from home. For a social person, this is a challenge, however, its perfect timing for me to sit, think, listen and marvel at God’s beauty. It’s a great chance for me to start practicing the discipline of silence and listen to God’s voice. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
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Shouldn’t any book titled “The Divine Commodity” at least be available as a free download?
Wow, this was awesome… really makes ya think. Thanks for the insight and your thought provoking writing. We both love you Patricia! We pray you have a wonderful time in Ecuador hanging out with Abba Father…be blessed dear friend!