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“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
– Matthew 18:20 –
What Is Your Brand of Worship?
As a Pastor and long time local church ministry veteran, I have lost count regarding the number of times I have heard individuals and couples express comments like …
- “We’re changing churches because the worship music doesn’t really move us” … or
- “We attend here because we feel we can really worship here on weekends” … or
- “This worship teams just seem so anointed” …. or
- “I don’t think we will ever leave, because this is the only church we’ve ever attended that has truly great worship”
While I understand that few if any are truly aided in their faith by an off-key Leitha singing nine verses of “The Old Rugged Cross” while accompanied by a piano that was last tuned just after the close of World War II, the common tragic thread that underscores all of the above comments is how shallow, passive and consumer driven one’s mindset can get when we ask our Christian religion to “do for us” what we should be doing for God.
Your Greatest Worship “Experiences”
Your greatest worship “experiences” that God has foreordained for your life, though memorable at times, will rarely if ever happen on a Sunday or a weekend in a corporate setting, they won’t be scripted by a Creative Pastor or a Worship Leader, they won’t be ignited by an impressive light show, amplified music or a massive pipe organ and cathedral, they won’t be framed by terms such as “seeker-sensitive”, “contemporary” or “traditional” and they won’t be defined by size of crowd nor stature of a celebrity Pastor or conference speaker..
Your greatest worship “experiences”, though critical in their own right, will also rarely if ever happen in isolation, when sequestered from the masses on a solo hike in the back country, or holed up in a monastery or a mountain prayer retreat.
Your greatest worship “experiences” in life are seldom on script, on time, on calendar, measurable and convenient because your times of greatest worship to the one true God will happen when you discover that great worship “services” . . not “experiences” . . are the authentic God-ordained goal He had in mind for you all along. By “services”, I refer not to the stuff of theater or liturgy orchestrated in a box called “auditorium” or “sanctuary” on a church campus but the rather the relational engagements that spring up when one invites another to join together and serve yet another.
“Your greatest worship “experiences”
that God has foreordained for your life, though memorable at times,
will rarely if ever happen on a Sunday or a weekend in a corporate setting.”
– David “JB” Miller
These are the “services” of the “two or three gathered”, not in a religious facility so much, but rather on the weather-damaged roof of a senior, under the leaky oil pan of a handicapped veteran or at a table that has made room for newly relocated neighbors. This is not so much about raised voices and hands in song, but instead about a melody of friendship, sensitivity, care, concern, availability and encouragement . . encouragement that comes at an uncertain and sometimes unsafe cost . . but encouragement that comes with a promise . . for where one invites another to come alongside and serve yet another in His name . . there and right there in that place is I AM. God desires to reveal Himself most fully, most powerfully not in a temple made with human hands, but in a living temple with serving hands, listening ears and a reassuring tongue.
When the invitation comes your way to lock arms with another and serve yet another, the enemy will provide a lengthy list of excuses to be inflexible and unavailable. He will help you to rehearse your limitations of time, resources and skill . . he will gladly keep you so busy with church that you have no band width to be church. If a need presents itself, he will be more than glad to tempt you to do it on your own – after all, you can get “the job” done faster if you just tend to it yourself. In doing so, you miss “the two or three” and more importantly, the “I AM”.
God has always been about
doing things as “two or three gathered” …
the very day of your rescue from sin, judgment and death found Jesus knocking on your heart’s door and bringing you into the full forgiving and accepting presence of the Father and filling you with His Holy Spirit so you can engage others as His ambassador in the same way. Look no further than Christ on the cross to find the greatest act of worship in history.
Funny thing, in churches I have led and attended (like most others), there always seems to be several leaders and participants who are quick to assign on others the label of “broken” or “liability” or “project” and in turn keep their distance . . these same “Christians” are more than glad to engage the “successful” and assign and deploy the “resourced” while they point you to the sidelines. When the religious crowd assigns the title “risky” or “marginal” over your life, the enemy is glad to step in and turn your focus away from others in need to obsession with a sense of sinking self worth, but God does His best work in and through your limitations, your gaps, your fatigue, your unresolved transitions and is indeed in the full time business of inviting you to worship “services” where all that is needed is your willingness to be used by Him.
A Little Bit of Heaven at Helen’s
My friend Virgil is aware of several stymieing challenges in my life and that of my family in this present season but refuses to devalue or dismiss my person, my friendship and perhaps most importantly, my qualification to serve, and together with him, be the “two or three gathered”. Because of Virgil, I found myself in the tiny and quite dilapidated kitchen of a poverty-stricken widow that for privacy purposes we will just call Helen. On the surface, Helen desperately needed cabinets and hands willing to tend to demolition, repair and installation. She got her cabinets and some improved wiring and plumbing and some new paint – all of which will last for a limited time . . but more importantly, she was encountered by the I AM who showed up with the “two or three gathered”.
In a season when physical limitations make access for Helen to worship “experiences” more difficult than ever, God gave her something better . . He brought a worship “service” to her own home. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be in the corporate presence of a powerfully preached word and a skillfully sung song of praise, but frankly the sermon that speaks best to my heart and the throne of Heaven is the kind being delivered by the likes of my dear friend Virgil. Virgil could have easily begged off the unenviable project to another and on a technical level, he certainly didn’t need me, but I believe with all my heart that he invited me to come along because he has long since decided to settle for nothing less than . . great worship.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
– Colossians 3:17 –
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