It's not a perfect analogy, but here's what I mean. We have worked tirelessly to make our services engaging, relevant, contemporary, (contemporvant, even), excellent, and sticky...like they want to come back for more, not like movie theater floors.
And it's not all for nothing. I like what Andy Stanley says "Do you know what's worse than organized religion? DISorganized religion." Haha. It's perfectly fine for us to have our stuff together. It's good stewardship.
WARNING: there's a pitfall though. I just hope we're like the actor who fell through the floor...it was just a stage he was going through. (groan) Back to the pitfall: we can miss one of the core truths about worship if we're not intentional.
Worship costs something (we have to have some skin in the game). In fact, 2 Samuel 24:18-25 sets an important precedent. King David wants to buy property to worship. The owner wants to give it to him free. But David responds “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” And in that, he teaches us that worship should cost us something…
We see it again in the building of The Temple in 2 Chronicles 5 – not only did they bring their personal possessions for the building, but once it was complete, their sacrifices were immense: “the entire community of Israel sacrificed so many sheep, goats, and cattle that no one could keep count!”
We could look at the story of the woman at Bethany who anoints Jesus’ feet with such risk.
Or Paul and Silas when they had been thrown in jail who chose to sing songs of praise after being beaten.
Here are some of the costs that we see worshipers in scripture paying:
- The woman at Bethany - Luke 7:36-50 Cost: another good thing, money, risk of rejection, faith
- The woman at Bethany - Matthew 26:6-13 Cost: another good thing, money, risk of rejection, faith
- Paul & Silas in jail - Acts 16:22-30 Cost: their pity party, their right for revenge
- King David - 2 Samuel 6:12-23 Cost: dignity, honor and respect
- The Temple - 2 Chronicles 5:1-14 Cost: money, valuables, resources, my best, physical strength, physical preparation, physical expression, investment in music training, individualism
- Heaven - Revelation 5:11-14 Cost: power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise
- Psalm 149 Cost: waywardness, sadness, depression, pride, sleep, taking matters into my own hands, vengeance
- Spotted offerings - Malachi 1:6-14 Cost: honor, respect, what I really treasure, my terms, my best
This is an easy pattern to see in scripture, but an easily missed practice in our worship. How can we look for more ways of requiring more of us as a congregation? How can we have less of the worship team "doing it for the congregation"?
*It's true, the story I started with. At least, it's what I'm planning to do this Sunday. It'll be the last song of the set, just after Oceans. I'll call the ushers up, give the hymnal number, tell them we're singing the first two verses, and start with the refrain. During the refrain, we'll all sit down.
How will the congregation respond? My guess is that they'll jump right in. (I hope they jump right in!) I'll let you know next week what happens.
What could you try this week to increase the "requirement" for your congregation? I'd love to hear your ideas.