Do You Worship Your Worship Experience?

Dying church I sat in a church I’d never been to on Sunday. It was different from the churches I typically attend for a few reasons. It was much smaller. It didn’t start on time. It was a different denomination. And the big one, the demographic, as far as social class and age, varied greatly, and I wasn’t in the majority. I was there with a friend who sat by me and explained that this church happens 24/7. Sure, they have a Sunday service, he said, but Sunday service is a very small part of this church. It’s not the central event like it is for most churches. Here, people minister to the homeless every day. Their lives reflect Jesus in their interactions with people from all neighborhoods and backgrounds. They worship God outside the church building maybe more than they worship Him inside of it. And all of this made me uncomfortable. It convicted me. I held back tears during the service because of what I realized I’ve let church become for me: a place that makes me feel good. I like churches with amazing worship bands – they make me feel good. I like churches where my friends go – they make me feel good. I like church to be entertaining and the sermon to be engaging – this makes me feel good. I had to stop and ask myself this past Sunday, since when was the church about making me feel good? I asked a few more hard questions after this like, what if all churches looked this way? What if they were a little smaller and didn’t start on time and only had three people in the band but on nights, weekends and weekdays the congregants scoured the streets of their cities and served people who haven’t seen kindness or felt grace in their entire lives? What if the Sunday morning service was ok, but the Monday through Saturday service was life-changing? What if the center of the church was Christ and on the edges was the worship band and the order of events on Sundays? Do I worship Jesus, or do I worship my worship experience? They’re tough questions, but they’re important. This Sunday’s church had the least in attendance, wealth and refinement that I’ve been to in months, but it was one of the richest and deepest services I’ve been a part of, and I felt Jesus’ presence all in it and through it. I know he was there, and I know he was pleased with his people.

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19 thoughts on “Do You Worship Your Worship Experience?

  1. Andrea, what a great question you have asked, especially for
    someone in the Millennial generation. Perhaps if I and others of us
    from the Silent generation would have been more vocal
    and more intuitive we would be leaving you guys a church and
    a country that glorified God in a much greater fashion.
    Keep at it.

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  2. Andrea, this was well-done. There is to be a world of difference between the dynamic of a loving church assembly and that of a secular theater! A theater crowd is there to “see the show!” Sounds like you entered a real church fellowship where something powerful happened both vertically and horizontally! Obviously, you were deeply touched. Thank you!

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  3. As a Worship Pastor for 25+ years I appreciate you putting this question before your reader. Ultimately the question that is always before us is are we worshipping the created or the Creator? Even our worship is created and must be directed at the one who gave it to us! Brilliant!

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  4. I was telling a friend about this article, at lunch today. He is currently consulting with a small church on how they can make a big impact without being a mega-church. John has heard you speak and was very impressed with you, so he asked that I send the link to this article to him. You continue to have a positive impact with your words. You are doing great work!

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  5. Andrea,

    This is an insightful and convicting article.

    I love the idea that our Monday through Saturday be life-changing, Christ-focused, and dynamic and our Sunday morning becoming the time that we share with others what God did with us and through us during the week. It kind of turns our conventional way of doing church on it’s head.

    I’m sure that would make for a drastically different type of Christian in the world and it would make the world sit up and take notice of what “church” really is.

    Thank you for sharing your experience!

    Jesse

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  6. I would add the question, “Am I worshipping my denomination, instead of Jesus?” I attend a local reformed congregation, and while the focus is on correct theology and not a big worship experience, I still struggle to feel that what we look like on Sunday morning has any real significance to changing lives on the other days of the week. The church also has a strong focus on christian classical education, and that is a good thing, but I don’t see the poor or the homeless or the marginalized in the auditorium.

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  7. thank you! This so resonated with me. Our family made the decision to stop putting our focus on a Sunday Worship. The idea of Worship is so much more than attendance on Sunday morning, Evening and a midweek service. Worship is obeying and living out our lives before God and the world loving, giving, serving. It is not about a group of people sitting looking at the backs of each other’s heads and listening to one man speak/teach. It is about loving and listening to the Holy Spirit that He has given to each one of us when we surrender to Him. Fellowship is so much more meaningful when we are awake to all of the opportunites before us each and every day not just when we come to a building for our prescribed dose of “worship”. Loving how God has opened up my heart and mind to Him in new and wonderful ways. What can we do through Him when we venture out of the church our cozy and comfortable setting? Thank You and God Bless you

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  8. Finally got around to reading this – very thought-provoking. There seems to be a trend towards “striving for excellence” in our church services, which in and of itself isn’t bad, but it relates to a possible trend you’ve identified that we’re seeking to create ‘experiences’ for fixed points in time, rather than a whole-of-life worship attitude. I think I need to figure out how to put that more succinctly and use less jargon though…

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