Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Worship- An experience?

I keep hearing people refer to what happens in their church services as a "worship experience". I find something about the experience bit a little unnerving. I don't know the motives of people who are framing it this way so don't take this as a criticism of any individual or group. Rather consider this a gentle warning to watch our hearts and where our focus is. I'm as much preaching to myself here as I am anyone else.

It is so easy to make what we claim to be our worship of God in a church meeting context all about us and how our experience of it is. It isn't in itself a problem that we liked choice of music, felt good or otherwise enjoyed church. I think there is merit in trying to honour God by conducting our services really well. But as an end goal, services focused on our experience are potentially a problem. That's because our experience is no real indicator of worship that honours God. I could have a fantastic, feel good experience at a concert that has nothing much to do with God. I have heard so many people evaluate a worship service on the basis of what they felt. Sometimes things get muddled by confusing hype or a good experience with the presence of the Holy Spirit. As someone who comes from a charismatic background, this is one I've had to learn to watch myself for.

It is God that our worship services are meant to be all about, not our experience. There will be times that you will feel nothing much or even feel depressed when you worship God. Read the Psalms if you don't believe me- its full of people who are sad or from whom God feels far away. What we feel and how much we enjoy it are not the point. It is better to have a room full of people whose hearts are focused on God but are lead by one out of tune guitar player than a whole stadium full of people lead by the hottest Christian band with the best sound-system who are just there to be entertained.

In joy, sorrow or numbness, may we all be able to truly worship the Lord.