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The Condition of Worship: Part One

Reality is something that consumes millions of viewers weekly on television. The American public is obsessed with shows like Survivor, Big Brother and American Idol. This represents a generation that can identify something fake and can be quick to judge whether or not it’s real for them. They are a generation that can no longer settle for the fake and routine, and they have need of something real, something that will alter their life. The effects of this generation on the Church can be both a positive and negative thing.

The Church has a decision to make. What face is it that we are going to portray? Will we portray the mask of a Pharisee? This is a legalistic face that is driven by routine and motions, obsessed with maintaining itself and moved by popularity and judgment. Or do we choose to reflect the face of Jesus Christ? This is a face that is the ultimate in reality, saturated in love, concerned with others’ well being and moved by compassion and grace. This generation will not settle for anything less than what is true, and the truth remains that Jesus is the one thing they need to encounter, face to face.

A generation is holding its breath, waiting to accept something, but what they expect has yet to be decided. It is my conviction that without the breath of life that is given through a real encounter with Jesus Christ, they will die. It is a perfect love that will bring strength, give hope and feed flames of purpose and passion in one’s heart. We need and have an obligation as worshippers to pursue that which is real.

I once visited a church, and I was amused at the method in which one of the worship leaders chose to lead a congregation in worship. This leader’s formula seemed to include that one precise hand gesture, great flashy smiles and just the right amount of closing the eyes without completely losing the eye contact of those whose eyes were fixed on them.

It must take a lot of practice to get good at it, I sarcastically thought to myself. But the sad thing is that many of us have got very good at the art of “performing worship,” shouting hallelujah even though we don’t know what it means. How about the automated amen? We say it just the right amount of times, and it’s usually because we’ve been encouraged to respond with just that very word, unsure of what were responding to. We learn to be careful not to have too much clapping but a good balance between that and lifting of hands. This systematic way of worship with routine steps and guidelines in the “How To” guide to church etiquette has become our problem.

Some seem to have comfortably traded in a real encounter with the Creator of the universe and settled for a mundane set of steps to perform. As worship leaders, we have risked serving up something fake for comforts sake rather than surrendering to what is real, which consequently is the one thing that will genuinely reach people where they are.

So often, our message in praise and worship has become a like broken record, and there is emptiness that has desensitized many people to the act of lifting their hands. Many people are using these simple acts of worship as a means of up keeping the masquerade.

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When do we come to the point to where we throw away the script and grab a hold of reality worship? It’s a kind of worship that is not distorted by others, a worship that is unadulterated, not borrowed and unrehearsed. It is worship that is true, original and out of the need to praise God. When you come to the point where you can do nothing but plainly worship your Creator, your Lover, your Father right where you are at … that is truth. And we know what the truth does to people. It sets them free.

There is a generation that has risen that will seek God for who He is and for all He’s worth. Here is a revelation that should change your mind when it comes to ministry: We are the Church. It is a simple revelation but if you are a Christian, then you are part of the Church. Whether you like the way it looks right now or not, you are the Church. It is time for true worshipers to arise and show the way, to rewire, so to speak, the Church’s understanding of worship and to erase the facade and introduce the true freedom found in worshiping our King.

We are guilty of trading in a real encounter for routine comfort, and although we have a problem, we also hold the solution. The Lord is ready to move and win over a generation to His heart. When we let go, God will move on our behalf. We must encounter genuine worship where a loving father, friend, caretaker, provider, redeemer, lover, shepherd, watchman and protector is meeting with His children personally. Encountering these characteristics are all things that this fatherless generation has missed, and a genuine encounter allows room for the Holy Spirit to speak, move freely and change lives.

We must help this generation receive the breath of life that they are looking for, the breath that can only be found in the true reality of who God is. When we can humble ourselves to pray and usher in authentic worship, we will see a solution to our problem and the effects will be monumental. We will have a Church that the Holy Spirit will free from the bonds of religion and a world that will find what is real after meeting Jesus personally. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit come where they are wanted and I pray that this article enlightens, challenges and stirs your heart to just how much the Lord is needed to change the condition.

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