The other day I came home only to be captured by my kids. I was told that I needed to come into the back yard. I was taken by both hands and led into the back yard where a outdoor theater was set up. My kids had set up a performance for me! I was full of anticipation as both of them stepped behind the table cloths hanging from the clothesline to collect themselves. Then the drums started and bursting out form the middle was the oldest and they began to dance and sing. They were singing a song I had never heard and I am sure that they did not even know the words either. Almost instantly the younger one, the drummer, decided that playing with other toys was more important so my wife had to take over as the percussionist. As the performance went on I realized that my little children had come to an end of their performance, so I stood up and gave an uproarious applause! I clapped and shouted I was as enthusiastic as I could get with out disturbing the whole block.
As I walked into the house I had a revelation about how the Lord sees our worship. He began to show me about we have fallen into a formula for our worship. Our worship services are predictable at best. Have you ever noticed that most worship services are predictable? They begin with announcements followed by a prayer, a few songs based around religious ideas, then there is more prayer and a sermon, all to be capped off by yet more prayer! This is boring. It’s no wonder that church attendance is declining. It is no wonder that a missionary from China came to visit American churches and said “I am overwhelmed with how much the American church can do with out God.” I think that this is a wake up call to the American church. I began to reflect on my own church services and how I had fallen into a pattern. Not that passion was gone, I truly love the Lord and seek to bring Him all of my worship. And service had become predictable the people in the church would shower the worship team with complements saying “wow, worship was amazing today!” What they are really saying is, hey that band is really sounding good, and you nailed those songs. This is, by the way, totally missing the point of worship; the point of worship is the one we are worshipping. I have been in services where there are lots of people singing incredibly sweet and poetic songs, the band sounds beautiful and Gods manifest presence is missing.
There is this simple verse in the psalms: Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3 (ESV). There is something that I believe is missing in worship today, something called “Open Worship”. This is when we are in service (assuming you have a good worship leader) they will invite the congregation to sing a new song unto the Lord. This is the equivalent of each of the church members running in to the Father God, taking Him by the hands. Saying “Daddy, come on!” Open worship is the offering of our hearts, where we have a conversation with God telling Him just who He is. It is where we sing a song that beckons the Lord to incline His ears. This is the unscripted part of the worship service, this is the part when we step out from behind the tablecloths and give God all that we are! I wonder if maybe this Sunday you might decide to take the Lord by the hands and give Him all of who you are. I wonder if maybe you are ready to stop trying to do church without God. The truth is that God will go where we welcome him. Welcome Him in your services this weekend with open worship!