Listening to Jesus Culture’s latest album… And the worship leader is crying out “God we want to know you in a deeper way. Lift your hands. Lift your voice”… And there’s really nothing wrong with those words. It’s expected song-transition, worship leader cheerleading. I’ve done it. It’s part of the gig. But it got me thinking…
Are we teaching people that the way to know God deeper is to get in a corporate setting, lift your hands, and raise your voice? Is that biblical?
It seems to me that the road to knowing God in a deeper way is quiet, personal communion with Him, and obedience to what he’s already revealed. At least that’s where I’m at right now. My response to my hunger for God is not to find a loud room with lots of people that I can scream praises to with… and I don’t want to teach people that.
Though I love loud rooms with people to screaming praises to God together. But those meetings aren’t as much about intimacy and discovering God as CORPORATELY PROCLAIMING praise to God. Saying to God and the community around you that we are united in our faith, our confession, and making it a point to get together and affirm that. It’s also a time of mutual encouragement. A time to hear God’s word preached. To be encouraged in your race of faith. To be uplifted. To feel the love of God through community with his people.
So in a way, we do know God in a deeper way. Maybe a different way. There are benefits to corporate assembly that are unique to it… I guess the issue I have is the idea that the apex, the highest form of God-seeking is corporate gathering. Because the corporate gathering is only as good as the individual-divine relationships that make up the gathering. If we never seek God outside of our corporate gathering, then what good are our corporate gatherings doing? If we have nothing to offer one another, then why get together? And if the Pastor is the only one with a relationship with God, we can receive what he offers us, but that should produce individual growth in us… if we really receive it. And if that teaching isn’t producing that, we’re either not listening right, he’s not teaching right, or both. If church is only a commercial for church, then it’s not what church is supposed to be. Because the assembly itself is not just about the act of assembly.
The assembly is a structure that should be a weekly accountability, coaching session, faith-builder, that provokes us to love and good deeds. If love and good deeds don’t mark your church, what the heck are you getting together over? Do you really think raising your hands and your voice really takes you to some mystical, ‘deeper’ place OUTSIDE of a daily, living, breathing relationship with God?
Even more scary to me as a worship leader… Is the STRUCTURE (not words, message, mission statement, printed material)… Is the WAY WE STRUCTURE a worship service, and the nuance of what we say… the thoughts that are communicated along with the words that we carefully craft… Are we… AM I misleading people with a false corporate roadmap to God? If so, is it time for restructuring? Do I need to change my tone? Do I need to say something else? Should we do something else?
Do people know the amazing secret of the prayer closet? Of personal relationship with God? DON’T SETTLE FOR CORPORATE RELATIONSHIP! Don’t believe that if you haven’t found fulfillment once a week that Christianity doesn’t work! Don’t believe that if you haven’t found God here, you never will! This is just the weekly pit stop! The race is happening every day! If you’re driving backward on the track but making all the prescribed pit stops, you’re still going to lose the race. You’re still losing ground. Those pit stops will help. Good rest. And slow down your horrible losing streak. But never achieve the goal you’re expecting them to fulfill. Just because your tires are wearing down, and the miles are going up, doesn’t mean you’re going in the right direction. Turn around. Repent.
So my friends, (and my soul)… If you want to know God in a deeper way, go ahead… lift your hands, raise your voice… But don’t stop there. Please. You’ll never find the joy and satisfaction of a personal walk with Jesus, and may just be deceiving yourself into a counterfeit faith that has no positive future for you.