Battleships and Worship?
A couple of weeks ago, President Trump announced he was sending an “armada” of U.S. Navy vessels to the waters off North Korea. Some days later, it was discovered the vessels were in fact heading in the opposite direction. Clearly there was egg on someone’s face. Being a retired military officer myself, I can tell you there was also some serious butt-chewing going on off-camera. But there’s at least one problem. And not just the one the business-man turned Commander in Chief made. Even a school kid knows it’s incredibly difficult to turn just one battleship around. It takes time. Especially if they’re “full speed ahead” in a different direction. Not only that, but before you can take troops into a situation where you might be required to remain for an extended period, or even fight a war, there are supplies needed; water, food, bullets, fuel, you name it. What’s more, whenever there are people involved it’s worse. My family can’t even get out of the driveway without a kid needing to use the bathroom or another one forgotting their shoes. Imagine the vast level of increased difficulty.
Which brings me to my actual point. Often, during worship at the church where I pastor, I get the sense most people are starting from zero every week. What I mean is they have no momentum. They show up cold. They’ve been heading in a completely different direction for at least six days. They’re not warmed up; at least not in the direction of God! They’re like a sedentary runner who arrives late, doesn’t work out, hasn’t stretched, and who isn’t even in the starting blocks when the pistol is fired. So when the worship team says, “Please stand with us”, a large number of saints attempt to begin their worship right then and there. It’s weird. It feels awkward. Clearly, there are a few people who seem to get right with it, but others need to warm up from somewhere near frozen. And who is to blame? If you ask them, it’s probably the worship team, or whoever picked the songs, or the missing drummer, or the fact that we have a drum set at all. The truth be told, it’s their own fault. If Sunday morning worship is their only time of worship, it will never happen in earnest. Our God is a jealous God and the Holy Spirit doesn’t show up on a whim
And it’s not just worship we attempt without momentum. When someone asks you to pray, are you ready to simply continue the conversation you’ve had with the Lord all morning long? When I mention “service” from the pulpit I get the same sense as the vast majority of pastors, “They think I’m crazy!” And they tell me too! Right to my face! “Isn’t that what we’re paying YOU for?” “Actually, No, you are not. My job is to “equip the saints for the works of service” (Ephesians 4:12), which, quite frankly, is impossible when people are not accustomed to any kind of service, except the kind where they receive, probably think they deserve it, and then tip far too little for it!
And what about “giving?” If you first think about giving when the plate is passed or the appeal is made, it won’t make much sense to you. If 100% of your giving starts and ends as a grieved afterthought on Sunday, you’ll be a very poor giver. It simply will not be an extension of your life. And who gets hurt? Well, for starters, YOU DO! You curse your own life by robbing God (Malachi 3:8), but you also hurt the Body of Christ, and the work of the Lord everywhere… which, of course, hurts your worship, and every other area of your Christian walk.
Which brings me to my conclusion. Every Sunday at your place of worship (or super-convenient Saturday evening service) a team of exhausted servants (both professional and volunteer) do everything they can to get the battleship of your life turned toward the Lord. They’re pushing and pulling to get it moving at a reasonable speed. If you bother to show up, they’ll do their God-honoring best. But if they don’t get it done in 59 minutes, or if they don’t do it in some way that makes your feel “good”, you’ll probably skip a few weeks before you return. Which, only increases your momentum in the wrong direction. The teachers will be more exhausted. The weary saints who are pulling the weight the Lord actually measured out for YOU are beyond exhausted. And the worship leader…. He’s in my study again, this time in tears, offering his resignation because he feels like he’s a failure.
Pastor Jim Kilby www.JamesKilby.com www.HarvestDayton.org @Kilbin8er