GAME-ADUP-PASS_THE_POPCORN_MOVIE_GUESSIN

What’s a worship service supposed to look like? I’m sure if we polled everyone, we’d get lots of different opinions – and strongly stated ones at that. But I think that a lot of us approach church a lot like going to the movies. It’s sort of a spectator and consumer activity to a lot of us.

Think of it like this: You go to the movie and buy your ticket. In church, that’s like the offering. Then you get your popcorn. In church that’s like the bulletin. So you settle into your seat in the theatre and listen to the music and passively watch those trivia questions on the screen before the show. In church, that’s like the prelude music and reading the bulletin while you’re waiting for the service to start.

Then, back at the theatre, come the previews for upcoming shows. In church, those are the announcements and for some of us, that’s the category that the music fits in as well – preliminaries – stuff you have to get through to get to the show you came for. And then in the theatre, at last, the movie comes on. In church, that’s the sermon. In the theatre, we had hoped to be entertained. Maybe we were moved, or maybe we laughed, or maybe we were scared.

And when the movie’s over, either we think it was a great or maybe it was a dud, and we let everyone we came with know what we thought. In church, we tend to have the same expectation, and we sort of give our assessment of the sermon in the same way. “That was a great sermon. That was a boring sermon. Man, pastor was meandering today, wasn’t he? I didn’t like the songs they picked this week, etc.” Then, after attending either venue, we go home and come back looking for a good show the next week.

For many of us, church is a weekly show we go watch. We pay our offering, as if we’re buying a ticket, and so we expect the kind of results we want. Our mindset is that we’re going to church to receive something. And certainly that’s an okay expectation on one level.

But ultimately, is that what a “worship service” is all about? I don’t think so. You see the very nature of the word worship, in all of its New Testament and Old Testament variants, is that it’s verb. It’s something we do. And that thing we do is never defined as simply “showing up” at a service called a worship service. If you’re going to be in a real “worship service,” it’s going to have to involve some people choosing to worship God.

Biblical words for worship have definitions such as “to kiss towards,” “to kiss the feet of,” “to bow down,” “to prostrate oneself,” “to ascribe worth to,” and “to serve.” Biblical worship is described as singing, shouting, bowing, kneeling, clapping, making joyful noises, dancing, sacrificing, giving offerings, and presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. These are very active, physical sounding definitions and descriptions that don’t come close to sounding like “show up and receive something.”

Worship isn’t a passive experience. Worship is a response to who God is and what he’s done in light of who we are and what we’ve done. And when we really start to grasp that truth, we will find ourselves, bowing and kneeling and lifting our hands and singing with our whole hearts and giving our offerings as sacrifices to the one who sacrificed his all for us. Just showing up and listening doesn’t look anything like biblical worship.

If you’re looking for good entertainment or just want to watch a show, maybe it’ll be worth your eight bucks to go the local theatre. But if you’ve gotten a taste of who God is and what he’s done in light of who you are and what you’ve done, I’d recommend heading to church and let God be your audience for a while. He’d love to listen and watch and he’s worthy of every expression of worship we can offer him!

~ by Dan Adler

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