I am driven by the terrible fact that only about 15% of Americans worship as Christians on a given weekend. This consumes me. In a country where we are free to worship, why do so many refrain?
What about you? Are you like me? Are you distressed by our worship reality? Do you wonder how to more effectively connect people with the presence of Jesus?
Yes, in other blogs we talk about people saying church folks are hypocrites and church isn’t relevant to daily life. I’m leaving that behind for the moment. I want to focus on the question of worship itself.
It was curious – and sad – to me that when I searched for images to put with this blog concerning the topic of worship that virtually all of the photos were of a single person. The issue begins there with the thought that worship is just between God and me. If that is true, then I don’t need church. However, it isn’t true according to Jesus. “Where two or more are gathered…” Worship is expressed from the context of community.
But we can’t do much to change people’s perspectives. We can’t control them. What can we do?
I recall how we sent white American missionaries years ago to places like Africa. For a good period of time, essentially no one became a Christian. What was the deal? We sent these well intended folks with our hymnals of 16th century European music.
Then some smart and desperate person noticed that these African people had awesome music. What if we put Christian words to that style of singing? All of a sudden, Christianity flourished there.
It seems to me that that same sense of mission field resides now in the United States. So much of our worship assumptions do not connect with the realities of contemporary life situations of people. What is more important – maintaining the heritage of a certain style of worship or connecting people to Jesus?
So I believe church leaders today must examine carefully who the people are in your community. What kinds of music do they listen to? How do they negotiate the world in terms of technology and information? Worship is created out of the context of the worshipers’ life situation. How has God planted the seeds of worship within them already? How do you develop worship that builds on that and gives people the best chance of encountering a life changing experience of God? That is indigenous worship.
It is a brand new day in Western culture the likes of which we have not seen since the 4th century. It is understandable that we are slow to change. One could perhaps make a case 30 years ago that our culture might return to its previous sensitivities. No one dares make that claim today. This is a matter of eternal importance. It is a time for urgency and focus.
What have you experienced? How have you developed worship to connect with the realities of contemporary people in our culture? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below.