“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
- John 4:21-24
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
- 1 Corinthians 14:26-33
Have you ever asked a church hopper why they hop from church to church? Have you ever asked a former church member (attender) why they quit going to church?
With almost all the former and a lot of the latter, you might get the same answer, “I did not get anything out of the worship service.”
The epitaph for the church of today, the past century for that matter, is that the church died because the members were looking toward being entertained for an hour.
I do not wish to go to church and be bored for an hour or hour and a half, but I am rarely bored. When I get bored is when they have a “minute” for mission and the pompous self-promoter that gets up to speak talks for ten minutes about how wonderful they are, and you should give money to the cause that they represent. I get myself into the mindset of giving God praise, love, and honor, and some jerk tries to rob me of all that by promoting himself, and oh by the way, he/she is doing some good for other people, people far beneath him/her, for their own glory most of the time. Some minutes for mission are short, to the point, and all about the mission and you never even caught the name of the person making the announcement, maybe because they did not mention it.
In my lament of the last paragraph, I mentioned what worship should be: Praising, loving, and honoring God. Throw in glorifying too. And for those “managers” that never “manage,” all those things that we should do for God during worship are action verbs. We need to do them, every time we worship.
We are never supposed to be there to be entertained. We are the entertainment and God is the audience. We need to think about that the next time we are sitting in a pew and our spouse elbows us because our snoring is waking up the folks in the next pew. I am sure God was “entertained” by that.
In these days of COVID, we are instructed to not sing, but my wife and I, when we do attend, dare the ushers to kick us out of the building. I have a hard time raising a joyful noise to the Lord without making any noise. And as my voice is showing signs of wear and tear, it is a noise these days.
My wife has not wanted to go to church so much since she started dialysis. She has little stamina and since I teach a Sunday school class, she opts to attend Sunday school and then go back to bed, usually catching the sermon on livestreaming.
When I listen to a sermon, from home or at the church, I have a pen ready and a notebook. I feverishly write down notes. I rarely use those notes in writing posts, but I have done so. I am just actively involved in listening to the sermon.
They say that you retain 5% of a lecture, 10% of what you read, 20% of what you see, 50% of what of see, hear, and read, 80% of what you do, and 90-95% of what you teach others to do. Somehow writing notes down increases the retention a little. If for no other reason, I am intently, and intentionally, listening to the sermon to find something worth writing down. Our former pastor, who I loved to joke around with, is married to a wonderful lady who is also an ordained pastor. I joked with our pastor that I had written 2-3 times as many notes when she filled in for him than I did when he gave a sermon, and his were longer. He would laugh, so he knew I was joking, but the truth is that I was not lying either.
I got those statistics in the last paragraph from a website that said that the often-repeated statistics were a pack of lies, but the article did not correct the numbers. I hate it when that happens.
But the point in mentioning these numbers that could be quite off, for us to reach a 50:50 proposition on retaining what the main point was in the pastor’s sermon, we must be active in what we are doing in the pew. And to hope to get better than a 50:50 proposition, we must DO IT during the following week.
If you are in the pew to seek God, you will find Him, and sometimes even when the pastor is not having his best day. If you are in the pew to see what you get out of the worship service, you are there for the wrong reasons. If you quit attending church because you got nothing out of it, then you may be wasting your entire life, but at least you are not wasting space in the pew.
Ouch! That was harsh! Shame on me for saying that. Maybe I should edit that out, or maybe not.
It is my prayer that those who are there to get something out of a worship service, rather than putting something into it, will find something that they might not be looking for. I pray that they find God. In fact, all those promises of God stem from the fact that God promises to give us more of Himself if we genuinely seek Him in the first place. And when God attends church, He is seeking and longing to touch those that earnestly seek Him.
Anything else, other than seeking God, is extra. We should not attend church for the extra. We should attend because we are seeking God.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.