Communal Worship as celebration of spiritual growth the rest of the week

So, by now you well know that my main theme in my preaching is that God is about Relationship. That what Adam and Eve chose to do and what their kin choose to do continues to break relationship with the Creator God who loved to visit with them in the cool of the day. You know I preach that what Jesus did in dying was open a way back into relationship with God.

Throughout the world, followers of Jesus remind themselves of that sequence in what we call a worship service. Once a week is the bare minimum for such coming-together events.

What I think has been gradually happening in the North American church is that mistakenly the worship event has become the end all and be all of spiritual nurture for those who profess to follow Jesus and worship the Creator God. What I believe was initiated and intended to be a kind of culmination celebration event has become the one spiritual growth event of the week for many.

As a preacher who designs and creates and leads such worship services, I have felt what I think is the expectation from the people before me that says in their faces and bearing “feed us” or, more explicitly “recharge our spiritual batteries in this coming hour so we can survive another week.” I have diligently, in the past, tried to meet that need, spending a lot of my own spiritual energy and creative energy and thought energy in putting a worship event together that would deliver such a recharge.

Some time ago I began to rethink that. As I fit more and more of my own understanding into the God is about Relationship framework, I began to wonder about this weekly recharge duty that I was accepting. And I realized that if following Jesus and worshiping the Creator God was about relationship with that Triune Godhead, that a proper relationship is not sustained by meeting one day a week for one hour. A proper relationship is a 24/7 activity, not a once a week or so dropping by.

I now see that however it has happened, we have things a bit backwards and we need to rectify it. We need to remind ourselves that the communal worship events are intended to be more about celebrating a relationship that has been alive all week than about creating the relationship in the event or about sustaining the relationship with a weekly “visit.” There is only so much a preacher or worship leader can do to strengthen your relationship with God in one hour. Surprisingly, it is quite a bit, but still, if you have not been ‘in relationship’ with that same God the rest of the week, there will be an estrangement that needs to be overcome.

Here is where you likely expect a “how to” or “must do” list. You are learning by now also that is not my style either. I believe you have a brain. I believe you have faith. I believe you can examine your own life and relate to God in your own way and make your own choices and decisions about what you can do… if you see the truth in what I’m speculating about.

I suspect that a congregation with a significant proportion of people who are, all week long, in authentic, transparent, law-and-obligation-free open relationship with Father Son and Holy Spirit will be a congregation that has amazing worship services flowing with living water splashing all over the place for those who don’t have it.

I can do my part, but the rest is up to you.

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