Sometimes we have a painfully narrow understanding of what worship is and how we fit into it. Worship is to honor and glorify a God so far beyond our full understanding that God had to reveal God’s self to us in the three persons of the Trinity. God is too big to fit into a box, and our worship is too vital to hem in. While worship is corporate, I acknowledge that it is simultaneously deeply personal. It is an outward sign of this inward relationship with our Lord, and one that is transforming us even as we offer thanks for what we have been given thus far. So how can we widen our concept of worship?
More and more I watch and observe how worship affects people gathered I see when they are bored, disconnected, and counting the minutes until they are out the door. Then I see people when they are struck with the power and movement of the Holy Spirit, when they feel the manifestation of Christ in our midst, and when they are overwhelmed by the presence of the Father. I see tears, sometimes smiles, and always this gasp for the grace of knowing that God is true, alive, and with them. That is what I want to see for all people, all the time in worship. To this end I am working planning a new fully Emergent worship service, the third service we will offer on Sunday morning. Not that our other two worship services are not a means of grace, a good and joyful thing, and meeting the needs of a multitude of Christians to worship God Almighty, they are. However, my church could no longer deny that there were people missing, absent from this sacred encounter with God and other believers. We could not stand by and allow that chasm to continue, much less grow deeper and more detrimental. So we prayed, discerned, holy conferenced, and moved to make something new a reality in concert with God. Out of that journey this new worship service has been conceived, and next month it will be birthed. When it is enlivened it will need the people to open themselves in a whole new way, experiencing holiness like it is the first time. It will require us to put aside our wants and desires in selflessness so that others may draw close. If we widen our willingness to go where we are not “at home” and fully comfortable, then those who are not that way now can discover a profound love that willingly goes without so others may have, even for the very first time.
It is an act of kindness to place others before us, and the fullness of the Body of Christ above us. It is an act of mercy to strive to open space, create sanctuary, and make room for worship strangers. Without worship, believers would wander away, go stagnant in their faith, and fail to find a richer, deeper understanding of the God whom we gather to worship in the first place. We can no longer deny that to anyone because they cannot relate to our preferred style of worship. The world offers too many alternatives to worshiping God, and it makes it very easy and enjoyable to pursue them. The time has come for Christendom to acknowledge this unhappy truth, and work actively, intentionally to change our mindset, our mode of worship, and get vulnerable enough to change, so that Christ may transform others into disciples who will worship and serve alongside us, and grow in their walk with the Lord with us, too.