Monday, October 12, 2009

Did You Worship?

“I always feel for you when you’re up there singing your heart out, trying to get people to join in, and some of them . . . just won’t!”

A friend of mine said this to me the other day. When I’m not on the road, I lead worship at a church about ten minutes from my home. They’re the most gracious people - from the staff to the membership. They aren’t so much concerned with the insignificant stuff, you know, the stuff that nobody will remember next week much less a year from now. They like doing church to bathe in God’s presence as a corporate body once a week, to gather to worship, to learn and have great fellowship.

Worship has become a production. While I admire the quality of all the elements as much as anyone (Heck, maybe more than most . . . because I know what it takes to pull it all together, and I know what kind of gear it takes to produce such great audio and video and lighting effects.) sometimes, it tires me.

The spiritual pendulum swings pretty fast. While one day, I’m energized by the production, on another, I’m deeply, deeply moved by singing an old hymn in a small gathering of ordinary folks with no particular musical expertise.

So, does it bother me when people don’t always join me when I’m leading? Used to.
Not so much anymore. I realize that the hundreds of people in the room are coming from a great variety of life experiences.

I don’t know too many of them intimately, but, as we’re not that different from any other gathering of spiritually hungry humanity, there’s probably any number of issues being dealt with on any Sunday AM.

There were arguments at home about being late for church. Love that one. Some parents stood in the door and denied exit by some teenager daring to show up at Sunday School in some inappropriate something. “Too much makeup,” says another. “You can’t go to church in those shoes, son.” Then there are, inevitably, the couples that are on the verge of calling it quits. “One more church service and if God doesn’t do something big – and I mean BIG, I’m outta here.” “What am I going to do with my life?” a single, young adult asks in quiet. “Am I ever going to meet somebody to love? I don’t fit in here with all these families.” Then, there’re those with aging parents thinking about how to care for them, pushing back guilt for not visiting more, pondering how the estate will be split between siblings, what to do with the house.

Add your own personal drama.

It’s no wonder that it’s difficult to pull aside for an hour our so to be quiet, to pray, to sing, to listen and be taught or at least comforted.

I don’t take it personally when people don’t sing with me in worship. I worship and I hope my demeanor, my heart and voice can gently plead with them to join me, but honestly, I don’t know what each one needs or what they have to offer. That’s out of my hands and none of my business. I do know this – I’ve had some incredibly intense worship experiences listening to others sing, listening to someone speaking, keeping my own mouth shut for a few. My built-in southern Baptist guilt mechanism does kick in from time to time. It rears its head with loud piety. “Your not singing. What are people going to think?” “Nod your head like your agreeing. No, no, no that looks more like you’re falling asleep!” “Say “Amen” or something . . . not too loud or they’ll think you’re trying to be, well, you know.” “Smile….no….look serious.”


Here it is….and this probably doesn’t need to be said but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t wait for Sunday to worship. Live your life in an attitude of worship. If you pay attention to God’s moving in your life, you’ll have a worship experience every day. And in worshiping Him, you’ll live in a spiritual posture that will cause you to be humbly thankful for all He’s done and for all He’s doing.

Then every once in a while, show up at church and sing your heart out!

I’d love to hear how you’re doing with all this. Let me know.


Wayne Watson
October 12, 2009


Anonymous said...

See? You did come back a changed man from your trip to the Phillipines. Funny thing about those trips is that you go to help others see the truth and you learn just as many truths about yourself along the way. I watched that video of those sweet mountain folks singing in their language about just know who they are singing about because of their faces and the sweet expressions and the tone they sing it with. Their voices are soft and intimate like the one to use to tell someone you you love them...that's the voice they use to sing about Jesus. Real. Not just lip service but heart service.

In the rainforests of Ecuador,a team of us drove to share the gospel with a village. As we drove through the light rain, we thought no one could come. As we got near the village, we noticed more and more people on the roads as we got closer to the church. It was packed when we got there. With the help of interpretors and some on our team who spoke spanish we shared our God-given gifts with them. The villagers were gracious. Babies that were fussy got passed down the row to be bounced or nursed.No one looked restless just calm and patient. I got to lead them in a few songs in their language. It really is a most beautiful language.I love the energy that they sang they didn't want to sing any way except with God's best. The People nodded their heads in agreement with the message from the pastor. They listened with intensity. We gave them other gifts at the end for them to take with them and talked with them and later hugs and goobyes.

I thought about those people a lot after that trip. I just remember the joy they felt when those folk got to church seemingly never angry or frustrated , or complaining. I made a vow to be even more positive and helpful on Sundays when i'm getting everyone in our family ready to go to church.

You think you are going to do God's work and He does a little work on you too. He turns up your inner sensitivty meter to make you notice things that used to go unnoticed.

Anonymous said...

A few random thoughts, because I wrestle with this one.

1. I'm privileged to lead worship in my church and there are times I'm discouraged by what appears to be ambivalence by many to the One who has saved them. I try to encourage them to set aside the challenges of their lives for a short time and focus on Jesus. (Jesus didn't discount Jairus' circumstances when the servant from his home came and told him that his daughter was dead. But He did encourage him with "Don't be afraid, only believe.")

2. I recall the old Keith Green song "Asleep in the Light" -
"The world is sleeping in the dark that the church just can't fight, 'cause it's asleep in the light. How can you be so dead, when you've been so well fed? Jesus rose from the grave, and you, you can't even get out of bed."

3. I can do nothing, including believe in Him and worship Him in spirit and in truth, unless the Holy Spirit does the work in me (Jesus' response to Peter's confession in Matthew 16, John 1: 10-13, Phillip & the Ethiopian, Ephesians 2:10, etc.)

4. Praise God for His grace and patience when I am too self-absorbed to worship Him in my life, and may He work in me to make me useful in His Kingdom work.