What We Need in Church

What does our church need to achieve fundamental change? Three things: Greatness, Openness, Direction.

We need Greatness in worship and personal spiritual experience. We need to rise above mediocrity and “just enough to get us by.” We need great worship. We need worship where we come face to face with Jesus Christ, with Almighty God. We need sacrificial worship. We need to bring something to the service and to God’s presence, rather than expect to take something away from it. We need to expect to bring a gift to God, our broken and bleeding hearts, the kind of sacrifice He desires. We need uplifting worship. We need worship and personal spiritual experience that is literally “out of this world.” This is what gives us the glimpse of the “other side,” the realm of the eternal and the spiritual. Without it, our religion becomes dull, lifeless, monochrome, and carnal.

Next, we need Openness. We need to be open and transparent to our brothers and sisters in faith, to open our hearts to them. We also need openness to God, so that we do not approach Him with hypocrisy, but with complete and sincere honesty about who we are and we wish to become. This is called in John 4 worshiping in “Spirit and in truth.” “In Spirit,” for God is spirit. We can only approach Him as translucent spirit, not as opaque flesh. This is true intimacy, not the kind of “lets-make-love” philosophy passed around by fornication, but true and lasting intimacy of heart, shared between Christians, other Christians, and Christ, the true intimacy of the “Body.”

Lastly, we need direction. We need to know where we are going. What is the point of all this? Is it to make more money, to hire more staff, to break 200, or something else completely pointless? Are we trying to achieve a certain level of spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:13) together, something that we can measure and touch? Are we trying to bring new lives into the Kingdom? What is the direction that all of our services and groups and ministries are aiming for? Firmness of direction gives us a sense of purpose. Without it, we will fail, because we will fail to set goals. Failing to even set goals is a mark of a dying church. There would be no life here without direction. As children, out intention is to grow up. As older children, we set goals for our future, what will I be? As adults, we set goals in our career, how high will I go, or, how well a job can I do? As as Church, what is our direction? To get bigger? How big? How soon? Who will cater to? How will we grow? Are we willing to sacrifice our building to build newer and bigger? Are there sacred cows along the way we will have to butcher in order to make more room (i.e., music, wall color, more preaching, more services, more home Bible study)

Without these three, Greatness, Openness and Direction, Church is pointless, monotonous, and will eventually die. Do you want to be a hanger-on, one of the last to go down with the ship, or do you want to live?! Do you want to live the life that Jesus calls for in Scripture, to be filled overflowing with the water of life, to live life more abundantly? (John 10:10)

Worship, It’s not just for Sundays anymore

Here I am to Worship

Here I am to Bow down

Here I am to say that you’re my God

When you have approached the church service, how did you arrive? Did you have a carload of kids distracting from the task of driving? “Are we there yet?” “I have to go potty!” “Johnny hit me.”

Or maybe the squabble was in the front seat. “I wish you would help me with the kids once in a while.” “Did you bring the checkbook?” “You wouldn’t have that headache if you came in before 9!” “I thought I told you last week there would be a dinner after church today.”

Somehow, between the your front door and the door of the sanctuary, most people find a way to hide the frustration of getting ready for church, and keep that mask on throughout the 2 hours of church and Sunday School, only to take it back off when they get back in the car. And it seems as if worship was something someone else did, while you were away. In this, worship exists only at church. And then you can go home and live the rest of your life.

But this isn’t the way the Bible seems to teach. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” (1 Th 5:16-19) God seems to be saying that worship, that joy and laughter we feel in God’s presence, is an everyday joy, not just for Sunday. Worship fills our heart from dawn to dusk, and even through the night. It must become a part of us, a vital cord in our soul that takes us from solace to solace, faith to faith, Sunday to Sunday. I want to encourage you this week and all this month to make worship a part of your life.