John 4:19-26

"Sir," the woman said, "you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?"

Jesus replied, "Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on the tis mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming-indeed it's here now- when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth."

The woman said, "I know the Messiah is coming-the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

Then Jesus told her, "I AM the Messiah!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Opening Act, pt. 1

Well, I've kind of been on sabbatical for the last month. As most of you know, we at the Journey have undertaken, over the last two months, quite a huge project. Actually it was about 3 projects all wrapped up into one. I'm not gonna go into a lot of details. If you'd like to know all about that, and I would encourage you to inquire... it's been a lot of fun and exciting. Check out Pastor Shawn's blog. He's gone into great detail over the last couple months about all the campus renovations, filming studio/kid's area, website redesign, and Hartsville campus launch. Which by the way, if you haven't seen our new website yet, check it out here!

So, I had a conversation with Pastor Erik, our lead pastor and one of my best friends, yesterday. We were talking about worship and how it's often perceived in our churches. And during our conversation, we hit on something that I think is key, and hold enormous implications for our lives. He brought it up, and then we began to expound upon it, to the point that I thought it would make a good blog. As you will see in the post, I'm going to ask everyone who reads this to comment on this. But if you are a Journey person... Please Please Please leave a comment. At some point, I believe we are going to have the opportunity to teach about this subject on a Sunday morning. Your answers may very well provide the subject matter for the content of that talk.

Collosians 3:15-17 says this: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (E.S.V.)

I guess I should've mentioned earlier.... this is probably going to be a 2 part blog. Otherwise, it'll get too long. So, here's the thought. When you come to church, and you see the opening video, or hear the band kick off the first song, or however your church starts... do you just kinda go through the motions and eventually work your way into a place where you feel like your just about to really connect to God... and then the music is over and it's time to sit down for the message. I would suggest that most of us do. I would bet that hardly none of us truly understand the purpose of that time of worship. Over the next blog or so, I'm going to begin to unpack what I think it truly means, and I'm probably going to step on some toes! But I promise, the one thing I won't do is throw stones. We are ALL guilty of the things that I'd like to talk about. And none of us are exempt from the consequences that will come as a result of our failing to engage in worship.

I'll post more later, but for now, I'd like to start this whole thing by asking a question. Please, Please leave a comment with your answer. Your answers are going to be the platform from which we get into this discussion. It's my hope that through all of this, we will all become better worshipers. Here's the question:

Do you think that the "Worship" time at church is a warm up for the "Message"? Another way of asking it would be: Do you think that the "Worship" time at church is the "opening act"?



katreed26minqgym said...

I have never looked at worship time as the "warm-up" to the message. But I feel like I connect to God at a deeper level during worship time. I never think of it as the opening act. I think you and your team do a wonderful job at leading us into a time of worship. I could sing all morning long! :) Thanks for all your hard work that you do @ The Journey, but for God's kingdom!


Brandon Sutton said...

No, I personally don't believe that or perceive worship in that context. However, I understand how it could be seen in such a way. The church I attend now is a wonderful church, but the worship can come across as somewhat of a show more than worshiping God. Here's the deal: Our culture has conditioned us to this way of thinking, it's not your worship teams fault or the churches fault. We are a product of tradition and culture, and it's not the peoples fault they view everything through the lens of today's culture. But it is the job of the leaders of the Church to interpret the bible and show the church why we worship and how we should worship. It's a good topic because ultimately it will bring glory to God. Once again his eternal word will prove its relevance and show its authority over every generations cultured way of thinking.

Richie said...

Is it an opening act... NO.

Is it a warm up to the message??? Well........ Yes and No????

I feel that it is an important part of the Church service as it helps to bring our focus totally on our Savior and helps bring the church together in one accord. The Bible tells us in Psalms 22:3 that "God inhabits the praises of His people"

Also when we open the church service with Praise and Worship we begin to focus our attention more on Him and begin to remember the GOOD things He has done in our lives and how great and generous He has been to us. Many times, for me anyway, as we begin in Praise and Worship it makes me look at my problems in a different light and how little they compare to a Mighty and Powerful God.

I think of Paul and Silas as they were in prison in the most darkest of circumstances.....they began to Pray and PRAISE God! Their praises unleashed the mighty Power of God.

I also feel that when the Praise and Worship team, or whomever it may be, lead the worship with a SINCERE and TRUE heart it makes a HUGE impact on the church as well and can touch even the hardest of hearts and possibly help become more receptive to the Word of God and the Message being brought forth.

You and your team do an awesome job leading The Journey into a time of heartfelt Praise and Worship.

Thank you ALL for allowing God to use your talents to uplift His name and to touch the hearts of others in such a mighty way!

Molly Mac Neil said...

Being a member of the Praise and Worship team, and now a campus Praise and Worship leader, I have experienced different levels of Worship through the music on the front end of the message. And, I strongly believe it had much to do with what level of "baggage" I was bringing in to the church doors with me! Regardless of whether I was on stage singing, or just a member of the congregation singing for the Praise and Worship part of the service,if there was something on my mind unrelated to what truly Praising God is about, and I was allowing it to enter my mind and become distracted from the Worship aspect, it would abruptly pull me into the message, or even pull me into the message late. And that is why I find it so important to prepare your heart through scripture and make sure that when you walk in the church doors, nothing is on your mind except for Praise of our Savior! And I can say, it is totally obvious when you are standing on stage and you look out amongst the Congregation, to see who is struggling with the same thing I spoke of, dealing with things that are completely unrelated and unimportant where God is concerned. And, on the flip side, it's completely obvious when someone in the Congregation is whole-heartedly, unabashedly, worshipping Him with every ounce of their soul- and that is what Worship should truly look like. If we answer "yes", that it is like a "warm-up" up to the message, then we have a responsibility to ourselves to correct that, within our own experience of worship. We need to leave our distractions at the door.

Stephanie said...

Normally, when the video starts I get little flutters in my stomach, and I am excited. My blood starts pumping and I am ready to worship. This morning, during one of the songs you all steped back and let the voices of the church ring out, and that was so awesome I almost couldn't sing for the lump in my throat. To hear all of us, untrained vocally (lol), but singing with all we had to rejoice and worship. That was awesome! I think Molly has a good point. Sometimes, even though I am excited to be at the Journey, I carry things in that should be left at the door. Sometimes the fact that I have been rushing around all morning trying to get my daughter ready, or maybe I am running late, or things that have happened during the week are still heavy on my heart. And on those mornings, it takes me a little longer to unwind or relax and really get into worship.

Tansy said...

I can honestly say this is something I struggle with. There are many mornings when I am so overwhelmed with other things that I dont take the time to prepare my mind for worship BEFORE worship actually starts. This morning when you made the statement about waiting until the 3rd song before we actually get our hearts/minds where they need to be, it really hit home for me. Thank you for bringing this topic to surface because I think many of us battle the same feelings. One thing that has helped me is actually getting to church a little early, getting in my seat and taking a few moments to ask God to help me prepare my heart for worship.

robbie cheuvront said...

Thank you all for your comments. Let's keep this conversation going until I post the next part. Encourage your friends to read and comment. I'm really trying to get some info here and gauge the temperature of what people perceive to be "worship".

Brandon, Good to hear from you. And you make an awesome point. We have been been conditioned to this way of thinking. And you're right. It is the leaders of the church to try and muddle through a lot of that social conditioning. Thanks for the thoughts, bro. And congrats on the new marriage! Keep me posted.

Amy Ayers said...

I see singing and worship as a warm-up, but not in the sense that it's not "really" the good stuff. I enjoy the singing (sorry, Erik) probably more than the message sometimes. It lets me express myself, with my voice, hands, mind, heart. It gets me focused on Him, not on what we did the day before or what happened on the way to church. It's a great "opener" to what's to come.

Kevin Eaton said...

No is the simplest answer that I can give. However the entire time I am at church I consider it an act of worship. In singing I praise His name, and worship Him. In reading His word and listen to Erik expound on it I worship Him. In giving my tithe and taking communion I worship Him. The entire service IS worship! I know that a lot of people tend to separate the different parts of the service, but I believe that everything I do is a form of worship to God.

Houston said...

Being a part of the worship team over the last few months, I have seen amazing mornings and evenings where I felt people were truly worshipping. I have also seen mornings and evenings where people stand around dormant just waiting for that moment in which they are allowed to sit down. Regarding those drastically different experiences, I personally see a direct correlation between how collectively powerful the worship time is and how people concentrate and absorb the message.

Is the worship time an opening act? An opening act is usually viewed as less important as the main event and I would never consider true worship in that way. However if no true worship is present and there is just a band playing some songs heard on the radio every day, then yes I would say it is a opening act and useless.

Miles Woodard said...

I kind of think the answer to the question is in the question itself. Why else would we call worship time "Worship Time" if it wasn't worship and was only warm up? We would ask, "Will you stand and warm up with me?!" The subject seems to be pretty black and white to me. Having said that, I think many people see worship time as the opening act. As if to say, "I didn't come here for the music. I could do without it. I came here for the message and the message only." I'm very naive on this subject, which is why I need to read "Worship Matters." I hear songs which strike a chord (no pun intended) with me and help me to grow closer to Christ and learn more about the Father. To me, the point of worship is to grow closer to God, to lift His name and say "Thank You". Songs like "Hookers and Robbers" by Charlie Hall, "Come All Ye Weary" by Thrice, and "Rebel" by Lecrae are songs which strike a different emotional connection and help me to be so much more thankful to serve a God rich in mercy and love while also allowing me to grow as a follower. So to get back to the question, if "Worship" is anything, it's the first part of the message. The "message" begins when you (robbie) open your mouth to lead praises till erik closes us out.

Philip said...

I don't think our "worship time" serves as an opening act, but by sheer structure and our christian society, I think if we asked unchurched people or people who attend casually, they would say the focal point of church is the teaching. I have always "felt" music and prayer as the points of worship where I connect to God the most, but I am a musical and emotional person.

I do think it is important to note, that we can learn a lot from lyrics of the songs too, and from the prayers that are led, and from the reflective communion time, as they all hold critical components of our worship, which is a response to the God we serve.

Danny B. said...

For myself worship is not warming up nor is it the first act. We should do this when our feet hit the floor every morning. What I think it has to do with is what I experienced last night. I visited a baptist church having revival with special music from Reba McEntire's keyboard player. This guy opened service with (It is well with my soul) instrumentally on an open top piano. As soon as it started I felt the spirit's presence which closed my eyes and moved me into moments of complete thanksgiving and love. The love for my God was so strong I don't have words. All I wanted to do was please him sort of the way children love pleasing parents or in most cases.
I know in order to have a chance at this moment I must remove the world and self. If we completely remove every distraction and entirely focus on him in love and thanksgiving even at times our English may change?? I know (some would question this).
Worship is expressing your love to God. And worship is living a life pleasing to God. This is what the world needs to see.

mokavma said...

I personally feel that Praise and Worship is in itself a very important part of my Church experience! It is when I FEEL His Spirit! It is when I am free to make a joyful noise unto the Lord! It brings me so much JOY to praise the One who gave me everything!!
I have always been moved by makes me happy when I am makes me think and feel! How much more is that magnified when it honors Jesus!!
The sermon is so important because that is when I LEARN...but Praise and worship is equally important because that is when I FEEL!
Thanks for asking!