Even though I am our "worship leader" I have recently realized how often I am not coming into Sunday morning ready to worship. We are created to worship. Our whole purpose could be summarized as growing in worship of the creator and working to see the world do the same. Have you ever noticed that when we go to conferences, camps, or retreats, the worship is so amazing? We fellowship with the Lord, are convicted and encouraged by his word, and sing with great power. Yet when we come to church, worship feels stale and boring...
Why does this happen? I want to propose to you that this is because we come into those situations with expectation. Expectation is a part of preparation. If I'm honest, and maybe you are the same way, I hope and expect the music, the preacher, and the production to be good enough and meet my expectations enough to "lead me into worship". Yet on my worst days, when I don't like the song, or the preacher goes too long, my worship is completely interrupted.
I want to submit that we have made worship too dependent on us. Worship is honoring the Triune God in response to who he is and what he's done. The great news about that is that our worship of God has very little to do with what we are experiencing but with the truth of who God is. We NEED to PREPARE to worship. Our worship is not stale because the truths of God are not glorious enough, it's because they are not reaching our heart. When your favorite team scores, you cheer. The reality is, when something hits our hearts, we can't help but worship. Worship is all of life, and yet as we gather once a week to worship corporately, this is a significant moment where we are called to give praise and honor to our great God with passion and gratitude.
I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Psalm 35:18 (ESV)
Ask yourself these questions:
How often do I really meditate on the words of the songs we sing and scriptures we read? Do I go beyond just thinking about singing a song, but responding in song to great spiritual truths?
Do I come to gather aware of my sin? Do I see my sin as I read the word and hear it preached to me? Do I come longing to experience the grace of God and rest in the power of the Gospel?
How often do I come to church with a ready expectation for the Lord and the people of God to meet me there? Am I hoping and looking to hear from God in his word sung and preached? Do I long to be ministered to by the word?
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:16-17 (ESV)
To summarize, worship in many ways is a discipline. We must often discipline ourselves to go beyond our basic nature to be lazy and surface-level in our relationship with God. Discipline yourself to let the reality of who God is and what he has done for you in Christ drive your worship. Theology drives Doxology. Discipline yourself to think about what you are really singing as you sing the glorious truths of scripture in poetry through song.
Starting this week we are creating a "prepare page" on our website under the "resources" tab that we hope can give you a regular place to come and discipline yourself to pray and prepare your heart in expectation to come gather in worship with your family in Christ.