This is a great post. I appreciate blogs on worship because they are leaders like me, in the fray, leading a group of people who are often more concerned with going to church than actually being the church.
I don’t get to just “go” to church. When I’m there I’m either leading worship or behind the church laptop running the projector. So it’s different for me. I don’t have the normal experience of what could become habit-forming church attendance. I don’t get to sit in a pew, sing a few songs and listen to someone talk for while about the Bible. (I’d like to hope regardless of what role I have in the church I wouldn’t go thru the motions instead of the true experience of worship the author writes about in the above blog post… but I digress.)
What does it take for a person to get to this point? What causes it? Unless we discover the root of the problem, the reason for this obligatory behavior, nothing in the church will change.
Here’s the money quote from the above post I linked to:
I think for those in the pew, it’s very easy to go through the motions because we serve a very loving God who continues to put up with our shananigans. He does not smite us for our lack of total abandonment to Him in our worship, in other words. And, no, this ain’t a “personality” issue I’m talking about. This is not a matter of person A being more “overt” in the worship than person B. I am talking about coming to the Lord willing and desiring to offer ALL that we are – heart, soul, mind and body – totally and completely – holding nothing back – just like we see in the pages of scripture.
This is the kind of Christian Barna talks about in his book Revolution. It’s the kind of person God laid it on my heart to be. So I struggle with understanding where others come from, i.e. those who may not know where to place their faith – how to actively live it out – how to share Christ with others without beating them to death with it all – how to be abandoned to him. How to not just “go thru the motions”. As I read Barna’s book, I wondered when this happened to me, when a passion to know Christ fully and to live my life for him come to me. I am sure it wasn’t always this way, but I don’t know what the turning point was. Maybe if I did, I could gain insight on how to affect change in others. Or, share Christ better with Ordinary Attempts as they are called here. But I am still racking my brain.
There are landmarks in my walk with Christ. Several occurred in college – one night on the bench by Wilson Hall, my long bout with insomnia jr. year and the night I finally understood why, one afternoon under a walnut tree with a friend named J.R., one summer on a van with six other people who didn’t understand me, one book that changed my life forever, this song that changed me forever, and this other song that changed me forever, a telephone conversation I had in the hallway of the dorm with my best friend – mostly in tears because I missed him though he was just a few steps away, the summer I spent with lots and lots of brown recluse spiders, one night huddled under a chair hiding from security in the student union, one afternoon on the floor of a dorm room with my accountability partner, a letter Maria wrote me that I still carry in my bible. But these don’t even compare to the landmarks I’ve had in the last two years. There weren’t as many, but these recent landmarks had a much great effect on me.
But the landmarks early on were the ones that stirred my heart to God. The little ones (and 1 big one – care to guess which?) in college, the big ones last year are landmarks that brought me here. God met me where I was and I opened my heart to whatever lesson that came around the corner. And each Sunday, I ask God for the same thing: that the hearts of each person who came through the door would open their hearts to what God wants them to hear. Those people I pray for must actively choose to be open or closed, to experience worship or go thru the motions.
I don’t know if these landmarks are what caused me to chase after God or not. My suspect is that they are because each one, with all their heartache and joy, brought a blessing. God poured out blessings on me and I wanted more, so I continued the chase. And if there is anything that chasing is not it’s simply “going thru the motions”.
What I’m listening to: Caedmon’s Call’s Just Don’t Want Coffee
What I’m reading: Monster by Frank Peretti