Apathetic Worship

I am not a creature of habit. I normally fight routine and ruts as much as I can. While in college I had to keep a post-it note on my apartment door that listed the things that most people never forget because they are part of their daily routine. The note read; Wallet, Keys, Phone, Glasses. Yeah I can’t count the number of days I left one of those very important items behind. Nonetheless it is very easy to get stuck in a rut. There have been times and still are when as much as I fight it I get stuck in routines. Marriages struggle when things just become a routine, work, relationships, and so much more. And that goes for Church and Worship. I just go because I am supposed to. I sing the songs and just go through the motions (which is real strange when singing “The Motions” by Matthew West – it’s just so darn literal). Full disclosure – there are Sundays, even as a worship leader, that I feel more like I am going through the motions than anything else. It has to show, there is no way I can lead with an apathetic attitude and it not show. I never want to offer vain worship but I must admit there are days when that is what I am doing.

So how can we prevent our Sunday worship experience from being just another part of our routine? How can we prevent apathetic worship? My theory stems from Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” You see the people of Israel had rejected the covenant God had made with them, they had forgotten how God had brought them out of slavery. You see our public worship is only a small part of our total commitment to Christ and if Monday-Saturday we are not remembering what God has done for us and not worshipping days other than Sunday they how do we suppose we can just offer something on Sunday’s and it really be sincere? We must walk humbly with our God everyday to be in a correct attitude when it comes to Sunday worship.

John 4:23 reminds us that “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” One must come to God in complete sincerity and with a spirit that is directed by the life and activity of the Holy Spirit. Our life must be directed by the Holy Spirit, not just our Sundays. You see these things require intentional thought that can help us prevent the worship routine.

What do you think? How can we prevent worship from becoming just part of the weekly routine and something more intentional that we approach with a humble heart? Have you ever found yourself just going through the motions on Sundays (or any other days really)?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Ricky-Bobby at Church

I talk with my hands to the point that it is hard to type my blog entries due to the excessive use of hands while expressing my thoughts.  So why did I use have so much trouble figuring out what to do with my hands during worship.  Now granted I play guitar so I avoid the awkward “Ricky-Bobby-esque” moments of not knowing what to do with my hands during worship.  I mean I could see everyone around me at church and other worship events raising their hands but I never understood why.  My more charismatic friends never understood my hesitations and questions, I mean it’s a part of life for them.  They are born with lifted hands.  So one day, who remembers how long ago, I decided to dig a little to figure out why we raise hands.  I mean I talk so much with them (and Xtina and other diva’s sing so much with them) why didn’t I use them when worshipping?

There are two main themes I came across when digging into this subject, Supplication and Blessing.
Supplication – to ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly. Stretching forth one’s hands is a gesture common in many different cultures to implore another person to help. One thing we represent when we lift our hands in worship is a desire to invoke God’s help. It also seems to be deeply connected to more than just the physical person as well, it reflects the inner person. “I stretch out my hands to thee; my soul thirsts for thee like a parched land” (Psalm 143:6). Hands mirror the soul stretched out to touch God, “… for to thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul” – verse 8 – “Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven” (Lam. 3:41, NIV). The lifting of hands is an outward representation of a lifting of the inner being to be in communion with God.

The other major theme that showed up was Blessing. We lift our hands in blessing to God. David lovingly calls to his faithful God: “So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name” (Psalm 63:4). “Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God; and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen,’ lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6). “To lift up the hands” is a gesture that expresses adoration in the context of worship.

So why do you lift hands in worship services? Why don’t you? I mean I myself am not the most demonstrative worshipper but understand that some people are and really connect that way. So what do you think?

Leading Change: 5 Ways to Change the Worship Enviroment

I work in a church that is truly an amalgamation of different denomination coming together in one worship service.  A melting pot of denominations if you will.  All different backgrounds joining together in song and prayer and me – an amalgamation myself.  My personal history in different churches has shown me many different ways in which people respond in moments of worship.  From demonstrative to reserved and everything in between.

So what about a church pursuing a transition in worship?  Generally churches looking to transition from a more traditional worship experience to a more contemporary one are also looking to see a change in how their congregation responds as well.  So how does a worship leader do that?  (I mean aside from taking the mic and making comments that come across as more of a chastisement than encouragement – oh you know what I am talking about, we’ve all said something like that at least once).  This is something that takes time so be patient and be encouraged to know that you are not alone.

While this is not an exhaustive list, here are 5 ways to encourage change in the way your congregation worships.

1. The Pastor – It may seem strange for a worship leader to think of the Pastor as the focal point of worship response but it is not as strange for a congregation.  They tend to look toward how the Pastor is responding to the worship in order to determine their response.  I know it sounds funny but think of it this way.  If you have a passionate band and worship team but the pastor is stone faced and not participating that sends some message – even if it is subtle – to the congregation.  If you want to see how a congregation will respond, look toward the Pastor.  If the pastor doesn’t want to see a change, it will be a hard go of it.

2. The Worship Pastor – sorry in this scenario we are number 2 on the totem pole.  But just as important is how we respond in those worship moments.  I mean the moments outside of just the music too.  How you respond dictates how they will feel comfortable responding.  And let’s be honest we all have days when we just don’t feel it.

3. Write about it – Use your newsletters, blogs, and other outlets to educate through scripture and experience about worship response.  Our goal as worship leaders is to see people connect with a loving and wonderful God – whatever that may look like for them.  Showing biblical examples (I mean c’mon you can always go back to the old David dancing naked well…) and encouraging people through all mediums available to you will help to break down those walls that keep people from freedom in worship.

4. Talk about it from stage – without chastisement.  Take an appropriate moment to explain why worship posture is appropriate, what hands raised means, and the like.  You truly are leader and teacher.  Now understand the line between encouragement and demeaning.

5. Pray about it.  I cannot overstate this step.  Prayer is the foundation for any change personal or corporate.  No matter how hard you try or how brilliant you are, it is the moving of the spirit that changes hearts.

Was this any help?  What did i miss? What have you seen in your experience?