Have you noticed the emphasis many churches give to your experience in worship?
I have and I think it’s dangerous!
In this episode of Now is the Time I talk about why turning worship into an experience is a bigger problem then you may have thought.
The experience trend
The trend in churches across America in the last few years is to create worship experiences. Many churches will tell you on their website about the different worship experiences they offer for each service. Some churches like this one, go so far as to make their entire church about your experience! You can even find a worship leaders conference that is called Experience Conference.
The problem with making worship about your experience is that it turns worship into a subjective, consumer oriented activity. Worship leaders become performers whose task is to create an emotionally pleasant experience for the audience. Church attenders become spectators who judge the quality of worship by the style of music, the design of the stage and their own emotional response.
Logically, seeking a worship experience is in direct opposition to true worship. Why? Because an experience is something you receive but worship is something you must give! If you judge your worship but what you get out of it then you’re judging the wrong thing!
In short focusing on the experience of worship creates what I call “selfish” worshipers!
In Biblical worship experience is neither the goal nor the reason nor the motivation of why we worship, who we worship or where we worship!
Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:23 that God is seeking people who worship him in spirit and truth. He didn’t say that God is seeking people who have a great experience when they worship God. The reality is that sometimes our worship experience may be less than entertaining. Just read about the prophet Isaiah’s experience in Isaiah 6:1-5, it was more terrifying than entertaining!
The real experience
Is there a worship experience? Yes! But it’s not the goal nor the standard by which we judge the quality of worship. The worship experience is a result of honoring God with our hearts and our lives. The worship experience is a daily experience of applying the truth of God’s Word to the regular stuff of life. Sometimes the worship experience will be painful and sometimes it will be pleasant but ultimately it is joy!
Make the change
Churches and worship leaders need to stop promising that they will give people amazing worship experiences and start calling the people in truth to give their all to God!
Pastors and teachers in the church must stop trying to entertain their congregates and instead focus on making sure that their people understand the truth of God’s Word and that worship isn’t about getting but about giving!
Church members need to stop searching for a better experience or a certain music style and start thinking about how they can give of their lives and hearts to God daily and not just on Sunday morning!
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Checkout John MacArthur’s book Worship, the Ultimate Priority