Monday, May 26, 2008

MIKE'S THOUGHTS ON WORSHIP (CONT'D)


(In the last blog, worship pastor Mike Cathey left us hanging with what a 90-minute worship experience would look like. Take your time and read it through very carefully.)

Some people have asked me, "What will we do with a whole hour-and-a-half?" This is a legitimate question for someone who is used to a service that lasts an hour. As Pastor Ken mentioned in an earlier blog, the average worship time for the 25 fastest growing churches in America is somewhere between 75 and 90 minutes. Can we assume there is a correlation between the time allotted for worship and the church's growth? As someone who has led and experienced services of more than an hour for most of my life, I can say that I would believe that to be a huge factor. While each church operates slightly differently, let me share a break-down of what happens in these longer services and why it is so vital to the health and growth of our church that we learn to begin spending longer amounts of time in God's presence.

A typical hour-and-a-half service consists of 30 minutes of singing (mixed with announcements and greetings), 5 minutes for the offering, 35 minutes for the message, 5 minutes for a testimony and 15 minutes of prayer (sometimes mixed with the Lord's Supper and the time of commitment). I don't know about you, but when I see it this way, 90 minutes begins to seem pretty short! In fact, in the previous churches I've ministered in, the question has never been "How will we fill the time," but rather "Where can we find more time?" - No doubt a question we will be asking here at Chapin Baptist in the very near future!!

But what does it mean to truly worship, and how much time is enough? We must first realize that our very lives, each and every moment, are to be an act of worship. As I once heard another pastor say, we need a theology to play ball or to eat a Hershey Bar. If we cannot do either of those things for God’s glory then we shouldn't do them. But we can do both for God’s glory. We give Him thanks for the ability to play ball or for the awesome taste of chocolate. We compete not for our own sense of pride but to put God’s glory on display because He has given us the ability to play. We enjoy that Hershey Bar with God in mind and contemplate the multi-faceted gifts He has given us as well the multi-dimensional beauty or satisfaction we find in so many things. It’s all about Him! Psalm 100:3 says, “It is He who has made us and not we ourselves.” As the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

When we consider that all of life is worship, that all of life is essentially the church, then how do we put a time constraint on it? For most of us, it is the constant pressures and expectations on our lives. Our children's schedules, our habits and hobbies, our lack of enthusiasm for God, our desire to do more: these are all things that are important to deal with, but when compared to spending time with our Savior, they become idols. If I can't trust Him to work these things out so that I can spend more time with Him, what else can I not trust Him with?

I love what I Corinthians 10 has to say on this subject of trusting God. Paul was writing a letter to His beloved church because he heard through the grapevine that they were becoming quite content with their lives and were balking at what God was trying to do in their midst. He reminds them that the Israelites were cared for in the desert and yet still complained, and God killed 23,000 of them in one day because of their discontent and talk of dissension. There is a clear explanation here that God demands a sacrifice, but we should be careful that it is for God and not for ourselves. "Do you see the difference? Sacrifices offered to idols are offered to nothing, for what's the idol but a nothing? Or worse than nothing, a minus, a demon! I don't want you to become part of something that reduces you to less than yourself. And you can't have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next. Besides, the Master won't put up with it. He wants us—all or nothing. Do you think you can get off with anything less?" (I Corinthians 10:19-22 The Message)

Do we really want to be the people of God who give only as much as necessary in order to be called Christians? The Word mentions God's jealousy of His people over twenty times, and each time it is said in the context of some idol that is taking their attention away from the Lord. There is this overwhelming reality that God will not put up with anything less than our all. If this is true, we must seriously consider everything we do as a church, least of all how long we worship together on Sunday mornings.

Can we accomplish all we need to in an hour on Sunday mornings? In all honesty,iIt's possible we could do it in 15 minutes. The real question, however, should be "Are we allowing God enough time to transform us from the inside out?" May the Holy Spirit guide us as we strive to answer that question...

God, give us a heart of worship. Renew in us a simple love for you, a thirst and hunger to know you and to walk in holiness and righteousness. May our hearts break for what breaks Yours. We want to see you and touch the hem of your robe. Bring us closer to your throne. Come and change our hearts again.

Be Blessed!

Mike



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