Debates and dialogue have persisted for many years about the focus of the Sunday gathering – with the spectrum from “only the true believers should gather” to “this is primarily for the unbelieving.”
Rather than delve more deeply into those thoughts and answers from the Biblical model, I’d like to ask all of us in the Church to ponder this question: Have we drifted away from a mindset of “service” to “serve us.”
“SERVICE” is the intentional action of the worshipper – participation in the liturgy, prayer, the Word, songs, and ministry to brothers and sisters. In other words – to serve.
This happens both in specific ministry roles (ushers, prayer leaders, Scripture readers, musicians, tech, hospitality, etc.) Yet it also happens when we encourage each other in the foyer with Scripture, prayer and active empathy.
“SERVE US” is a mindset that arrives at a worship gathering to only receive – to be served.
This can lead us to selfishly critical evaluation mode. “That song, message, prayer didn’t speak to me today.” I ‘didn’t get anything out of it.’
Devastatingly ironic if you think about it. Worship is expressed in action to a deity. God – who needs nothing – receives praise. Why do we expect to receive anything at all? (Rom. 11:35) If we come thinking ‘church’ is like a filling station for our car, we do not understand the purpose of Christian gathered worship.
To be sure, our souls need to be fed through the elements of the gathering (especially the solid truth of the Word), but the acts of service we bring are offerings of gratitude to God.
Any time we come to a Christian worship gathering, we need to fight the natural inclinations of our corrupt hearts and the pull to come merely as an audience of receivers.
As an aside: church leaders, let’s staunchly reject using commerce vocabulary shortcuts when we talk of our worship gatherings – even in private staff meetings. We are not creating or offering a ‘product.’ The people are Christ’s Bride and guests – they are not your ‘customers’ or ‘patrons’. It’s true that ‘Terminology Becomes Theology’ and soon we are no longer a gathering of humbly grateful redeemed people – we drift to becoming a ‘machine’ with ‘systems’ and ‘productions’ that need to keep running smoothly for our reputation, to achieve our desired results and ROIs.
Church Musicians and tech crew – please remember we are not coming to ‘tick a box’ on a rota (fill your spot on the schedule) as a burdensome obligation. Neither are we coming to showcase our talents or abilities for the notice or approval of other human beings. We are merely a frame around the masterpiece – showcasing the beauty of God and the glory of the Gospel.
We must be purposeful about letting God examine our hearts each time we come to serve. Not in a brow-beating, self-deprecating, melancholy exercise, but in joyful, self-emptying surrender. A surrender that, with delight, points to the jaw-dropping, beautiful magnificence and reality of our God.
I can’t tell you the number of times God has has both whispered and shouted to my soul to stop and repent because I was about to take the ‘stage’ for the wrong reasons.
We come to serve Christ’s Bride. To wash feet. To point hearts and eyes to the truth of the Gospel, God’s character, Our Christ, His promises – both fulfilled and sure to come.
It’s why we practice and bring our best. Not to be noticed or applauded or acclaimed. To serve the Bride. In love. To the glory of Jesus.
Press on dear friends in acts of love and service, and let your delight, joy, and satisfaction be that which He gives when we come to serve. (Acts 20:35)