Thursday, July 28, 2011

Express Yourself!

I've had some conversations recently with some friends about the differences between churches like ours and churches that are more charasmatic/pentecostal in their worship approach.  The discourse usually boils down to something like this: "Man, I really love the worship at this one church (pentecostal-ish). There's an energy and a passion and a reliance on the Holy Spirit that inspires my worship and is awesome to behold......but then they seem to go overboard and things just get weird!!!" OR "Wow, I really love this church over here.  The people are so friendly and down-to-earth.....but their worship service seems to be lacking some energy."

Why is it that most churches these days seem to fall into one of these two extremes?  Where's the "normal" kind of God-worship that we read about in scripture?  It involved shouting, singing, clapping, playing-of-instruments, raising of hands, powerful prayer, and downright excitement. But it was also organized, excellent, and was considerate of unbelievers that might come to see what it's all about.  From what I hear, our Church of God movement used to be that way long ago.  Our worship was characterized as "quite lively!"  You wouldn't have been surprised to see a ton of hands lifted high or to hear people shout out in worship.  Prayer was potent and when a leader voiced a prayer, people felt free to voice their support. They believed strongly in the role of the Holy Spirit in our corporate worship and in His power to heal and to move and to spark revival.

But these days, the worship found in our Church of God, Anderson IN congregations and similar churches usually paints quite a different picture.  What happened?  Some have suggested that the change occurred in reaction to the Charasmatic Movement that took place in America during the 60's and 70's where many churches wanted to distance themselves from what they saw as biblically-misguided worship.  Whatever the cause, I think it's a shame.  I'm not necessarily calling for a return to the "good ol' days"...but I do think a return to a more biblical picture of worship might be called for.  It just makes sense--common sense--that if we love God, we ought to openly express it...especially when we find ourselves gathered together with like-minded believers for the whole purpose of WORSHIPING our God!

Next time you gather for worship, think about what you must look like as you're worshiping...are you actually expressing your worship in a visible way?  Someone's going to be thinking: "But it doesn't matter what I look like on the outside because God sees the heart."  He certainly does but He's also having to look at your boring, expressionless exterior!  Plus, He didn't ask you to just love Him with your heart but with your soul, mind, and strength too (Mark 12:30)!

Pastor Neil

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