Archive for the ‘Worship’ Tag

Energized   Leave a comment


Image provided by pureheart.org

Image provided by pureheart.org

Have you participated in an event which causes you to feel energized by the end?  Recently I have been attending worship at a local church where this feeling occurs every time.  I enjoy the worship experience and find a great connection with the Spirit each time I attend.  There is a genuine sense of love and a high level of energy.  People of all ages gather and truly worship because they feel a connection.  The focus is on worshiping the Lord.

Another truly wonderful aspect is that I look forward to going to worship.  I know that no matter how challenging my week has been, I have an opportunity to focus on my faith and find fellowship.  The people whom I am with provide energy for me.  They share with one another and support one another in an uplifting manner.

Unfortunately, I am sure all of us have been in situations within the church where the opposite occurs.  I have attended worship in some churches where I walk away feeling drained.  The atmosphere, the worship style, and the people’s attitude extracts energy.  This has nothing to do with the style of music, the volume of music, the pastor’s style, or how liturgical the worship.  It is all about the feeling and attitude of those who are worshiping.

My hope for all of you are that you have the opportunity to participate in an event that provides energy to you.  I know that I am grateful to find this church and this worship experience.

Building Excitement   Leave a comment


 

Iowa fans make an "I" with their arm...

Iowa fans make an “I” with their arms as a flag is waved during the 2008 Iowa-Iowa State football game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Well, the week is here.  We are one just a few days from the annual Iowa – Iowa State football game.  This year I will get to go.  I find myself every year gaining more and more excitement as the week progresses.  For people in a state that does not have any professional teams, this is one of the biggest events of the year.  This game is so much different from any other that Iowa plays during the season.  The “normal” expectations tend to go out the window because this rivalry creates a dynamic that tends to alter both teams when they take the field.  During the rest of the season, I can cheer for Iowa State but this is the game that divisions are clear.  Whatever the outcome of the game, the excitement is what makes this week a great joy.

 

This got my thoughts going about what builds excitement in life.  As a leader, I sometimes struggle with identifying what will generate excitement within those that I lead.  I know that having a clear direction and good communication helps to facilitate excitement.  However, it is not always easy to predict what will cause a spike in excitement.  I often find myself trying a variety of different approaches and ideas.  Sometimes I am successful and other times I miss the mark completely.

 

Then I started thinking about what it would look like to see excitement build among believers.  I read in the New Testament about times when in Jesus’ ministry there was great excitement among the followers.  But it seems that the excitement is fleeting.  What would excitement in worship look like?  What would excitement in service look like?  What would excitement in spiritual growth look like?  How much of an impact could excited believers have on the communities in which they live?  I think as a church leader, I am always hoping to see those things but often missing the boat.

 

Any ideas on building excitement?  I’d love to hear them.

 

Authentic Worship   4 comments


worshipIn my devotional reading this morning, I read John 4:16-26 in Eugene Petersen’s The MessageThis passage is part of the discussion that Jesus is having with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  They are talking about the right place to worship God.  Jesus says to the woman:

“Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

This caused me to think about how I present myself in worship.  I don’t think that I am very different from most individuals who have grown up in the church.  I have learned the rules about behavior and what is acceptable and what is not.  I remember my mother reinforcing those rules if I happened to forget them on occasion.  But I am not sure that I ever learned to be authentic in my worship.

Jesus tells the woman that what God is seeking is those individuals “who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.”  To me that is calling me to be authentically myself when I am engaged in the worship of my Lord.  That is where the conflict can arise for me.  I know the “proper way to worship” that I was taught growing up in a small, rural, mainline denomination church.  But I also know that I never felt very exposed to the possibility that the Spirit may be moving through our worship and that may move us to be emotional, to be energetic, to show acts of humility, or any other expressive forms of worship.  Yet, at various times in worship, I feel moved to express what I sense the Spirit prompting inside of me.  So by stifling those expressions, am I failing to be authentic?

Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for the nurturing, love, guidance and opportunities that I was given in my childhood church and the many churches that I have been blessed to be a part of.  My faith and my response to the Lord were directly influenced by those witnesses in each of the congregations.  I am part of a great heritage that has helped shaped who I am. 

My challenge this morning as I read Jesus’ words was to understand what it means to be authentic in worship.  Beyond the idea of authentically expressing what the Spirit is doing in and through me, I think that there is also the reality of coming as who I truly am and not the image that I have created to fit the norms of the worship setting.  The truth is that I am a perpetual sinner in need of the continued grace of God.  I am not perfect in the slightest way.  That being said, I am also the forgiven child of God.  So while it is right for me to approach worship as a humbled person because of my sin and my need of grace, it is also right for me to approach worship with great joy due to the grace and forgiveness that is contained in my identity as a child of God.

I am sure there are other aspects of authentic worship that I need to continue to explore.  This is just where the ball has begun rolling this morning.  I invite others to share comments about authentic worship and the words Jesus said to the Samaritan woman.