Why Church? Week 1:
Pastor Don Prewitt
Christ and His Church are inseparable. The bible says He is the “head" we are His “body”.
(Eph.4.15 NIV) We pray, we sing, we learn, we serve, we care, and we grow. Our spiritual life is a shared experience. To thrive we must stay connected to our Lord and His people. Here’s some good advice, “Don't avoid worshiping together as some do but spur each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.’” (Heb.10.24-25 MSG)
WHY CHURCH? The next six weeks we will answer this question together as our Pastoral Team shares insight and inspiration on the power and purpose of a well-connected community of faith!
Ephesians 5:18-20 gives us some good instructions of what it means to worship God together.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery(excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures). Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Ephesians 5:18-20
Man is meant to be filled with SOMETHING more than just himself. If it’s not wine it will be sports or sex or your life goals and dreams or BACON or family or survival…or God. We live in a broken, fractured world and though some of us may feel like we can “make it alone”, God said in the very beginning that we were not meant to be alone. So we gather together in this building with the goal of corporately being filled with the Spirit of God. Ephesians 5:18-20 goes on to say: “…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Notice that this passage doesn’t say, “Speak to yourself with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. We are to do this act together.
Worship SHOULD be an intimate part of our gatherings as followers of Jesus. Without it, our church experience is like a beautiful wedding ring that has lost the biggest and grandest diamond. Without it we have structure without beauty, Busy activities instead of awe, playing church instead of truly entering into the presence of God. The modern church without true worship is like being in Gods very home and never seeing Him. And though some may think that this pulpit is the center of our gatherings, you are mistaken…the THRONE of God is and should be the center of our gatherings as followers of Jesus.
1. WHAT IS WORSHIP?
Simply stated, this IS the definition of the word worship: WORTHship; Giving God the worth that He deserves. It’s the process of surrendering our entire lives into God’s hands. In this way, everything we do, including gathering together every week, could and should be considered worship. Some days I don’t want to give worth to God, I want to do my own thing. And I look out at you worshiping and Im encouraged that its worth it. There are days that you may not be able to feel the worth of God because of all that you are facing, and you step into this time of worship that we are granted every week and you hear the songs and you receive hope that God is worth it. This is why we worship together. It gives God what He deserves and it lifts us above the mundane, broken, sinful world we live in.
2. WHAT WORSHIP ISN’T
So lets break it down then. If Worship is giving God worth, then what things are NOT worship?
MUSIC: Corporate worship COULD be music; our Ephesians passage does say to “sing and speak to each other psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and to sing and make music from our hearts.” Worship COULD be the 20 minutes to a half an hour that we sing before the word is spoken. But let me tell you frankly that what we do every week is NOT worship unless we are taking time to give God worth and laying down our lives to Him. Without giving God worth, we are at best just singing. We choose to use music in our worship time because the scriptures tell us todo so. The Christian church has always been a singing church. Music is so much a part of its experience, but in itself its only music. What empowers our time of singing is us as a corporate church singing our songs with our whole hearts and giving ourselves to the God we are singing about. This is why I often ask you to find a place of worship at your seat or come forward and kneel during our worship time. Because I want you to let the music be a catapult of sorts to center you in the middle of Gods presence so that you can give Him the worth He deserves.
STYLES: I’ve been leading worship for many years, most of my life now. And I have seen trends and fads and styles of music come and go. I’ve watched myself and others say “this is true worship”; pushing anyone out of my little worship club who aren’t doing or singing the style that I am now into. Style is NOT worship. It’s just a style. And styles and trends will come and go, but us giving God worth…that’s eternal. We may not always do your style, we may never do your style, but those are the times to press into the presence of God and find Him…in spite of the style of music we may be performing that week. I must say that as an older worship pastor I have a tough job, especially in the light of all the superstar worship leaders today. Why, Because we often spiritualize a style of music.
There’s a style of worship that is pretty trendy in the church right now. People are writing a lot of songs that make Jesus sound more like a boyfriend of ours than God. These songs are filled with sappy overly intimate phrases that make many people feel uncomfortable. But they make others feel great…or they wouldn’t be so popular I guess. I agree that some of the songs I hear as of late are a bit much to sing and can tend towards romantic sounding songs. Jesus being our boyfriend is probably something we don’t want to sing about, but surprisingly not because of the overly sappy feel to them, but because Jesus is MORE than a boyfriend to us…Biblically speaking Jesus is our bridegroom and we are His bride. 2 Corinthians 11:2 says:
“For I (Paul) am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband-Christ.” -The message
Boyfriend song are belittling his great love for us, He is much, much more than a mere earthly crush to his people.
Like it or not, Jesus romances us as a body, and we respond as one voice. Giving him glory and loving him as his bride.
The beauty of us worshiping in this room every week together is that we see the diversity of God and yet the unity of God. We all show love in different ways, and you may be one that shows it by walking alone in the woods, you may be one that uses his mind more than his feelings, you may be one that is very vocal about your love for God, but we all stand together as one and proclaim that God is good and loving and holy. Our worship unifies us and brings us together, no matter what our differences are.
FEELINGS: Aren’t you glad that you are a part of a church that allows the Spirit of God to move? There have been times in worship that I just want to come unglued because of what I feel inside towards my God. But church, I don’t live for those feelings. The danger can be that if we don’t “feel” something in worship we disconnect or even worst we may even wonder what sin ins going on in the church to prevent those feelings. Worship is more than getting that great feeling that often accompanies our times of corporate worship. True worship goes far beyond what we feel and is cemented in what we DECIDE to do…no matter HOW we feel.
A certain Samaritan woman once tried to debate Jesus on the best time, place and style for worship. Jesus reminded her that these external issues are not what God cares about. WHERE we worship isn’t as important as WHY we worship and how much of ourselves we offer to God when we worship Him. He told her in John 4:24:
“God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship him in spirit (wind or breath) and in truth (not just telling the truth, but worshiping according to the facts) …” feelings and mind.
What are the facts when we worship:
God is good
God is holy and completely pure
God is forgiving
God is love
God is eternal and has conquered everything, including death itself
God never changes
God cares for His people
A MEANS TO AN END: While there are many benefits to worshiping God, the one thing that it ISNT is a means to an end.
-I don’t lead you in corporate worship to prep you for the sermon
-The worship team doesn’t exist to help you feel “up” after a long hard week
-Corporate worship is fundamentally an experience of our hearts and shouldn’t be a means to anything else. It’s just what we do because we are in love with God. Someone once told me that if I struggled weekly in worship, it was probably because I have not yet seen the deep love of God. –Something to think about!
So, why do I tell you all of this and what does it say about our weekly gatherings in this place? Though worship is not a means to an end, there are benefits to worshiping him together:
- He awakens us to Himself
There are times we come into this place late, in a spiritual fog and beat up from real life in a fallen world. Then in worship, we see clearly, we are filled with faith to continue, we are reminded of the truth that sets us free and we encounter God.
David said in Psalms 73:28
“When I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”
How many times have we found this to be true in our own lives?
2. We receive assurance
Have you ever felt alone, isolated from the rest of mankind, like you are the only one in the world that has gone through what you are going through? And then we step into worship and feel a connection, a unified “one voice” crying out to God and we feel the assurance that we really aren’t alone. Together we worship, together we struggle, together we fight, and together we see the victory.
3. We grow
Christian growth and formation don’t just take place after we hear a sermon. Growth can take place in the middle of our worship time when we are opened up to Holy Spirits voice. ;
WHAT is worship?
Giving God worth
WHAT isn’t worship?
Music, Style, Feelings, a means to an end
WHAT are the benefits of worship, giving God worth, together?
God awakens us to Himself
We receive assurance