Think back to a recent worship experience. Was it enjoyable? Was it memorable? How about life changing? Sometimes we leave the service with an “oh hum” attitude that leaves us examining the value of the use of our time.
Your response to the worship service is quite revealing and it is worth noting how you left the worship service. The first thing you notice is was it a positive experience or did it leave you with something missing. It may be the service but it could also be because of what is going on within you. Before we go criticizing the church for failing to bring you into worship, we should at least consider that it may not be their fault. Worship is personal between you and God and must begin with us. Worship is possible in any situation when we are focused on Him, rather than on ourselves.
Now look at the focus of the worship. To what did the service call your attention? Did it focus on life in the here and now or in the sweet by and by? Did it emphasis individuals or the Lord? Sometimes it seems as though the leaders are saying, “Hey, look at me” rather than “Hey, look at Him.” Was the main emphasis the church growth, a program, a performance, or was it one of what God is doing and how He is leading. Oh, and be sure to check out your own expectations. Were you looking to be entertained or were you looking for some direction or answer from God?
Thirdly, Look at the message, itself. Did you take notes? Even if you never look at them again, taking notes are beneficial for you to digest the message and to organize your thoughts. Can you tell about the message in a word or sentence or two? What was the message about? Another very important point is was the interpretation in agreement with clear biblical doctrine. The message should be directed by its text. Preaching should break open the hidden things of the text and expose it to be examined by the listener. Where did you thoughts travel? Did your thoughts travel heavenward or were they anchored here in this world by circumstances or needs. Were they led by the speaker or was you focus on things of this life and you never caught the concept of what is beyond this life only.
Fourthly, consider your vision of life, were you left with the feeling of times are getting worse and worse, or did you leave with hope in the end that God has a plan and He is in control. There are needs a plenty and difficulty is common to all but how does God fit into all of life. What is the purpose of God in allowing us to go through all of this? How can we have peace in the midst of all of this turmoil?
Finally, as you think back over this experience, were your expectations met? This may sound strange to you at first, but I hope that they were not. Many people leave a church because their “needs” were not being met. The criticism vary and may include such things as the sermon was too long, the choir is always off key, so and so has this problem, and so on. This type of criticism is selfish and focuses only on self. It lacks understanding of the others and the point of worship. Worship is a corporate event and includes everyone. Though it is true that God is concerned about your every need, it is also true that He is concerned about everyone’s individual needs. We all need to be loved and valued. True worship finds us as a part of God’s plan that includes everyone and excludes no one.
So, as you consider your own worship experience, consider that worship requires and investment of yourselves, a discipline to bring self under His control, a vision beyond this life into the next, a faith in God and not in something temporal such as a man or church or a plan, and a surrender to the will of God rather than just your will. My prayer for you is that your worship will become richer and fuller with each experience. Since worship is at least a part of our eternal existence, we should be practicing it now.
I cannot take credit for this insight as it was outlined by David Jeremiah with the following thoughts:
It is not about us – it is about Him
It is not about here (the physical) – it is about there (the eternal)
It is not about what is seen – it is about what is unseen
It is not about now – it is about then
It is not about one person – it is about many people