Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rx for Stale Worship

“Praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people, the Lord added
to their number daily those who were being saved.”
– Acts 2:47

I stumbled across a quote by Kenneth Osbeck that got me thinking: “It would be enlightening if the people in the pew could stand on the platform and observe the congregational singing during an average church service. One would soon concur that there are many who appear to have attended church without the express purpose of having a personal encounter with God. Comparatively few people reveal evidence of [fully giving of] themselves in worship and praise or of [receiving] the great truths about which they sing. Not all of us are able to sing tunefully, but everyone in whom the Spirit of God dwells can and should respond with joyful praise when the opportunity is presented.”

Let me ask you: If you were able to stand discreetly on the stage at your home church and observe the entire worship service from that vantage point, what would you see? None of us can know what’s going on inside another’s heart, but would it appear to you from people’s facial expressions and body language that they were going through the motions? Would you see many Christians walking into the service late? Would you observe attenders with hands in their pockets during “How Great Is Our God” and others fiddling with their cell phones during “10,000 Reasons”? Would there be more sighs than singing, more yawns than tears?

Now, let’s move from speculation to reality. What does the Holy Spirit actually see when He observes you in worship? Does he see clear evidence that you are giving Him your very best praise? Is it evident to Him that you believe the words you’re singing and are excited about being in God’s presence? Does he see clear signs of humble repentance during communion, sacrifice during offering and a hunger for God’s word during the time of teaching?

In Acts 2:42-47, the Jerusalem Christians provide us with a beautiful example of a worshiping church. Worship was one of their top priorities. They loved God fiercely, and their worship carried great impact both inside and outside the church.  Within these six verses we discover at least three components of impactful worship.

#1: Impactful worship is fresh and never stale. The Jerusalem Christians worshiped together daily, and their worship was anything but boring or monotonous. According to verse 43, “everyone was filled with awe.” And then we’re told that the Christians “ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God.” There’s no doubt that the Jerusalem Church’s worship was marked by fresh enthusiasm, awe and joy. When the Christians came together for worship, they came together expectantly. They expected God to show up and move in their midst. They expected miracles and healings to take place. They expected new people to be saved. Their worship was, in a word, fresh.

#2: Impactful worship is both formal and informal. We’re told in verse 46 that the Christians met together in the temple courts and in their homes. The Jerusalem temple had designated times of prayer at 9am, noon and 3pm. And the Christians attended at least some of these public prayer times even though they also held services within each other’s homes. Bottom line: Some of us worship God more easily in an informal setting (e.g., our homes or cars), while others worship God more easily in a structured worship service. But you and I need both. True, impactful worship can never be compartmentalized within a weekly worship service or single home address. Worship is much bigger than that. It encompasses both formal and informal settings.

#3: Impactful worship is both reverent and joyful. We are told in verse 43, “Everyone was filled with awe.” The word “awe” is translated from a Greek word that literally means “fear.” So, it’s clear that the Christians’ worship included a healthy fear of God’s power and majesty. They made sure that their worship offered Him the highest respect. However, in verses 46-47, it’s equally clear that the Christians worshiped God with great joy. John Stott summarizes this reality so well: “It is right in public worship to be dignified; it is unforgiveable to be dull.... If joy in God is an authentic work of the Spirit, so is the fear of God.”

When considering these truths from God’s word, it’s imperative that each of us does a self-check, humbly asking the Lord: “When I attend a worship service, what is missing in my worship? Although God is never stale, is my worship stale? Do I only worship God in certain settings and in certain, very redundant ways? Does my worship lack a healthy fear of God or a vibrant joy in the Lord? If so, what changes do I need to make?”

My friend, we serve an awesome God who is always exciting, always strong, always faithful, always good, always just, always pure, always holy and always worthy of every bit of praise, honor and respect that we can give Him. So when we come together with other Christians to worship our great and awesome God, we must give Him our very best. Not only will this make our own worship experience so much more meaningful, it will fuel the effectiveness of our worship leaders up front and, most importantly, usher in the presence of God. And nothing in this world carries more impact than God showing up. 

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit  and join us for worship tomorrow at 10 am.

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