Flashing lights, loud music, smoke filling the room, drum beat beating through my chest, lost in a crowd of strangers, each of us staring straight ahead missing everything around us as we watch the show.
I have a degree in Biblical Studies (pastoral ministry), back in the day I took a class on worship. The professor talked about the new form of worship as though it were out to destroy the church as we know it.
I’d be lying if I told you I don’t think of that professor on a regular basis when I’m sitting in church on a Sunday morning. Years ago if you had read that first sentence up there, you would have assumed I was talking about a concert, a bar, a show of some sort and not a worship service.
DON’T FREAK OUT.
BACK AWAY FROM THE E-MAIL.
I am not anti- our new way of worship and I’m not starting a petition to bring hymns back…although, I’ve thought about it.
I’m simply saying, we have built everything louder, everything better, everything bigger. We have signed up for everything, we run everything, we are everywhere and you know what? We’re also exhausted, worn out and halfway ready to quit most of the time.
I long for rest, I long for quiet.
For the first part of my degree, I attended a Quaker university which basically meant their chapel services had no instrumental music. The buildings are old and beautiful and strangely quiet. I remember the smell of the hallways and the large, dark staircases. But, most of all, I remember the quiet. I would sit in the auditorium and all you could hear was the squeak of the old chairs.
Here’s a description of true Quaker worship:
“We meet in plain, unadorned rooms because we have found that, in such places, we are less distracted from hearing that still small voice. There are no pulpits in our meeting rooms because we minister to each other. Our benches or chairs face each other because we are all equal before God. We have no prearranged prayers, readings, sermons, hymns, or musical orchestrations because we wait for God’s leadings (guidance and direction) and power in our lives.” fgcquaker.org
Interesting, right? Awkward too.
That being said, there was something about the stillness, something about the quiet. The amazing benefit to having a theology degree is it is much study and quiet. I look back on those times and can see the growth, I long for the quiet an the stillness.
1 Kings 19:11-13New International Version (NIV)
” The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
If God were to speak to you right now in a gentle whisper, could you hear it? In the busyness of this life, could you hear his voice? In the loud you are surrounded by every single day, could you hear the whisper?
I long for a moment where I can truly worship God without lights, without music, just the song in my heart that brings me into his presence. I long for that daily not just Sunday mornings. The good news is, we can have that, we just have to be intentional about it. Worship is intentional.
I have it in my nature to question all the things and ask “why?” when we go a new direction. I grew up in a denominational church and I am glad to see how far we have come and the change in the church today. That being said, I can’t help but look at some things and wonder if we have gone too far?
Are we so programmed we leave no room for the Holy Spirit? Are we so scheduled we leave no room to hold the hurting? Is our music so loud we cannot hear the cries of the broken hearted?
I think so, sometimes.
Almost every single day, I find myself at home sitting in the quiet place, praying, worshiping and seeking after God. I worship God at church, I worship God at home, I worship. I worship intentionally.
I do not want to start a revolution (at least not on this topic) but I will say, I think it is important for us as a body of Christ to make sure we are seeking Christ in the quiet place too. Don’t let the Sunday morning worship be your only worship experience, it’s not meant for that. Also, don’t let the Sunday morning worship be a concert you are merely attending.
Worship intentionally, wherever you are at. Participate on Sunday and also, participate every single day. Let us together, seek God through the intentional worship of our hearts.