I spent the majority of my summer before my senior year of college doing an internship at a church in Las Vegas, which only gets an average of 21 days of rain for the year. I was there for about nine weeks, and it literally only rained two times throughout my entire trip.
However, when it rained, it rained. I remember driving down the road with some friends soon after it started, and the roads could have been mistaken for swimming pools. Water was overwhelming the gutters, washing construction barrels to the middle of the road, and our windshield wipers weren’t fast enough to keep up. But one picture I remember distinctly is the amount of water, not going into the drains, but shooting from the small openings on the manholes in the street. It looked like someone had some type of hose beneath and was spraying through to get a fountain-like effect through the top. But what if I told you this is what our lives should look like?
One of the greatest misconceptions we have brought into this age of the church is the idea that “worship” is what takes place in the first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes of a church service. That “worship” is when the band plays a few songs about Jesus and everyone sings along. And a “worship leader” is someone who has a good voice and is able to sing the songs higher than anyone in the building.
The first problem with this is that we begin to wait until Sunday to “get our worship on.” We cruise throughout the week, waiting to be “spiritually refilled” when we get to church each Sunday.
The problem with this is if we are all waiting to be filled, then no one has anything to pour out. We come expecting the pastor or the worship leader to fill the glass of every person in the room when their glasses are only so big and so full themselves. The only never-ending flow to fill every glass is through Christ, which begins the argument for “personal church.”
The point of church is not to be filled but is to be the church. We come together as the body of Christ to pour into each other and worship our God collectively.
The second, more important, problem is that we don’t actually understand what worship is, and could therefore be missing out on what we have been created to do. When we look at Scripture, we see that the word “worship” is rarely, if at all, depending on the translation, used in reference to song or a service.
We see the word “praise” used often with music and singing, but not “worship.” Instead, we see the word “worship” is used to describe something far deeper and more meaningful in the life of a Christian. Romans 12:1 says, “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Worship describes a response of the heart to who God is and what He has done for us and it translates as a lifestyle that brings the glory back to Him.
So what does this have to do with the spewing manhole? Let me tell you. As we begin to see worship for what it is, our lives begin to look different. We begin to see every single part of our lives as an opportunity to worship as we have been created to, instead of waiting for Sunday to roll around. We begin to take our job more seriously because Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” We begin to take our finances more seriously because Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We begin to read Scripture more and spend more time with God and then when we get to church each Sunday, we begin to spew out just like that manhole. We are no longer coming dry, asking to be filled, but we are able to truly worship from the overflow of our hearts worship throughout the week. We are able to pour into others, encourage the body of Christ, celebrate victories and live in the community that God intended for us.
Now, I am obviously not saying that we should stop saying things like worship music, worship service or worship leader, but I am saying that we must have a correct understanding of what worship is. Worship does include these things but it is never limited to them. Maybe we should begin to say things like worship money for giving, morning or night worship for devotional, worship work for giving 100 percent for God’s glory, and so on. Worship is the tree, and these are all simply branches onto which we are able to grab.
Worship is not a particular action; it is a response of the heart that results in a lifestyle. As we come to church Sundays, we should come filled to the brim and ready to worship out of the overflow of the week’s worship. Coming together as the body of Christ is an amazing thing, and I believe we would be cheating ourselves, as well as our Savior, to come to church empty asking to be filled. Let’s come filled and be prepared to overflow.
Cameron George is the creative arts minister for the Gathering service at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lebanon. Preacher’s Corner features a new local preacher each month who writes a column.