Newsflash: I don't go to church to worship God.
Oh, I DO worship God when I go, but if MY church were going to be all about ME and MY best way to worship God, MY church would only have ME in attendance, and I would be outside somewhere talking with and worshipping God. I have had the privilege and responsibility of being in on some discussion about "worship planning" recently. I finally told the group: "Not gonna happen — you will NEVER plan a worship service that is perfect for me, or anyone else for that matter. I don't worship best in 'the pink room' (what I call our horribly outdated auditorium)."
Besides not lovin' the setting for "corporate worship," I'm generally busy. I interpret services for the deaf. That means I'm HEARING what is said and sung and prayed, but I can only process it in the part of my brain that translates it into another language, not the part that absorbs it and lets it transform me or reflect praise to our Father. Even when I'm not "working" by interpreting, I'm "feeding" signs to the person who is interpreting. (The very funny part about our deaf ministry is that we are positioned in the auditorium where the speakers shoot the sound over us — the interpreters can't hear a thing where we are!) Again, even if being surrounded by hundreds of people were my "thing" for worship, I'm a little occupied.
But, I do GO to church: I'm one of those "every-time-the-doors-are-open" kind of people. (I'm also one of those "last-ones-leaving-because-they're-turning-off-the-lights," but that's a whole other issue.) Even though I am openly professing to not attend church for the number one cited reason for attending, I think it is a crucial part of my faith and "Christian walk." I'm also teaching that to my children. My children know where we will be "every-time-the doors-are-open," and they know we don't plan events or things that would interfere with our attending.
So ... you GO to church, but you don't go to church to worship God? HUH?
So, why do I go to church?
I actually started thinking about all of this for several reasons. First, the church where I worship has started making an intentional difference in our two morning services. The second service is "less traditional" in nature. And our "more traditional" service is struggling over some bumps of its own. This, as you might imagine if you are a regular attender somewhere, has ruffled a few feathers and created some exciting end-of-the-pew discussion. I have also been included in some committee discussions regarding planning worship. Our "corporate worship" time has been on my mind lately.
Someone is unhappy with the song choices ... or song tempo ... or song leader. Others aren't happy with the screens or temperature or preacher or what-have-you. And — true confessions — I'm right there with them in many regards. As I mentioned — you can't plan a perfect worship for me, especially if there are people involved!
While all of this ha-rumphing was fresh on my mind, I sat down and encountered notes from a worship conference I attended last summer. This was on the top page:
Evaluating worship based on doing the right things in the right way or 'did it make me feel good' is having low expectations. Instead, evaluate worship on whether or not God showed up. There is NO worship renewal without expecting to meet the Almighty God. (Randy Harris)
That quote makes me feel better about not feeling like I am really able to worship at church. Oh, I feel certain the Almighty God is THERE — but I am only able to worship Him by serving His people while in "the assembly," not by chatting with Him and listening to Him. The best part is, I'm not missing my time with God if I don't get it inside the church building. The Almighty God shows up to talk to me and walk beside me on my morning walk. He listens so patiently while I fold the clothes. He blesses us again and again while I pray over carpool. My entire life — SHOULD I CHOOSE TO DO SO — can be a time of worship, complete with the presence of the Almighty God. Because He will ALWAYS show up — I just have to show up, as well.
And while the songs sung or words said and images displayed at church may or may not stir my soul, I can still worship because I will be in the presence of the Almighty God.
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice (Psalm 141:2).
Sarah is part of The Coffee Group, a varied group of women who express their love, faith, and praise for God with ladies they love. They do ladies' retreats and special speaking on God's work in their lives, as well as the importance of sharing your faith story.
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