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Watching Worship

Lockdown restrictions and church closures, has meant that new forms of worship have had to be created to keep congregants engaged. We’ve switched from on-site to online, and in many cases, churches are reporting an increase in numbers; this is great, right? No, for one simple reason – you cannot watch worship.  Worship must be offered to God by yourself or as part of a group.  People are watching worship lying in their beds (exceptions for the bed-ridden), they are eating as they watch the worship; they are in various forms of undress. Is this the best we can offer.  Part of the reason why the switch to ‘online worship’ has gone smoothly, is that for many, when they met in churches, they were also watching and so there’s no difference now.  Another reason is that, pre-lockdown congregants were going to church to worship. Read Psalm 100 and you’ll find the correct attitude. It speaks about, “Come with singing” (v2), “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise” (v4). In other words, we should bring our worship with us – because we have been worshipping prior to church – we have been engaging in daily worship in our homes, and so Sabbath worship is a glorious collective celebration.

Too many people attend church with the attitude of going ‘to get a blessing’ and they often leave empty-handed because that is not the reason for going to church; it’s not about what you can get, it’s about what you have to give. As we all offer our worship, we receive a collective blessing.  Part of the blame for the malaise towards worship must rest with the leaders who have taught the people to be watchers, spectators. From a child, we have been taught to come forward and sit down, to be told a children’s story, and now as adults we are still sitting down, waiting for a story from the preacher.  As soon as children can speak, they should be given room to express what God has done for them – such as this example I heard, “He made grandma give me some money”. But this must start in the home.

Lockdown has exposed us;  our. worship has been weighed in the balance, and we’ve come up short. So, where do we go from here? Watching worship is unacceptable to God; restrictions on public worship still applies, but God is still to be worshipped. John 4:23 says that in this zeitgeist (period of history) moment, God is looking for True Worshippers. In the exchange with the Samaritan woman, Jesus made it clear that worship is not dependent on a location, or physical building – worship originates with the Holy Spirit and comes from the heart.  It is prompted by a recognition of the One to worship – that recognition is enabled by the Holy Spirit when He recognises Himself (God is a Spirit), John 4:24.

Worship cannot be prescribed but if I could offer one suggestion, it would be for us to offer family worship in our home (sing, pray, give thanks, testify), and then come on a platform like Zoom to hear the sermon. The Lord went to Adam and Eve’s home to save them, he brought salvation to Zacchaeus’ home, and He’s knocking at the door of this generation.  Fellowship is great, and is encouraged, but your personal/family worship comes first. Dedicate a space in your home to meet with God or gather the family together.  Let the Spirit guide you in offering your worship and stop deceiving yourself by ‘watching worship’.

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