Worship That Saves Lives

Worship has the power to bring people to Jesus in a saving faith.

Worship is one of the best tools we have for evangelism.  What is that churchy word, evangelism?  It simply means sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with someone else.  Of the many tools God has given us to share Jesus, personal evangelism, TV evangelism, tracts, among others, I believe worship as evangelism is one of the most overlooked tools God has given His followers.

Why do I say that?

Because worship is not about us, it’s about God.  A recent survey of 100 churches members revealed what they think church should be about.  89% said church should be about what they want in a church.  Church was all about personal preferences: style of music, if they liked the preacher, what kind of building, children’s programs, and the like.  These are all important factors in a church, but they should not be geared to please us, but to please God.

Jesus said that if God is lifted up then people will be drawn to him. (John 12:32)  Not when we lift up our preferences for church.  I think this is an exciting proposition God is giving us because we don’t change lives, God does.  We don’t transform hearts.  We don’t erase sin.  We didn’t shed the blood.  We didn’t pay the ransom.  Jesus did.  He’s the one that turns a heart of stone to clay.  He’s the one who sets us free.  He’s the one who blots out our sin.  It’s when we lift him up that people are attracted to him.

Where do we lift Jesus up?  In worship!  When we set Jesus up on the pedestal and not ourselves then Godly transformation, grace, and love begins to shape us.  We see the glory of God and not the glory of our works.  And God is so good, so awesome, so precious, that his presence will attract others; even if they disagree with Him.  All of our schemes and thought and designs on worship will never replace lifting up God!  This is the number one principle for church growth!

How do we lift up Jesus?

We worship in Spirit and Truth.  Jesus said, “True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.”  John 4:23

Shouldn’t we, and I’m talking to you Celebration family, desire to be the kind of worshippers the Father seeks?

We should worship in Spirit.  Let me ask you, do you get in touch with the Holy Spirit before you come to worship or after you get there, waiting for the service to move you?  A true worshipper doesn’t wait for the service to move them.  You worship because you already have been moved by the Spirit!

A football player doesn’t come to the game waiting to be motivated to play.  Before the game begins he listens to the pep talk of the coach, gets fired up, bangs some helmets, and then runs onto the field with passion.

We need to do the same when it comes to worship.  We need to listen to our head coach (God), by praying, reading the scriptures (Psalms is a good place), or getting fired up with the same praise music, get to church a little early to to bang our spiritual helmets (Ephesians 6) so when we gather together we are fired up and passionate for God when the first note hits!

Secondly we need to worship in truth.  This is why we say no fake smiles and come as you are.  God desires authentic worship.  He doesn’t play games.  He knows when you are faking it.  Truth also means desiring His truth from His word.  You should come ready and seeking His truth being taught from the scriptures.  We are filled with all kinds of “truths and lies” the other days of the week, but on Sunday we feast on God’s truth.  It’s God’s truth that gives us life.  The Bible says, “I delight in your {God’s} decrees; I will not neglect your word.”

When we make God the focal point of our service and not ourselves then others will be attracted to him.

For these reasons, and in an honest effort to make this more of a reality in our worship, we are moving the “Shake n Howdy” time of our service to 9:45 AM.  It’ll be the bang your spiritual helmets time.  We are doing this to help make the flow of the service concentrate more fully on God.  It is our desire as a leadership to be pleasing to God in all that we do.

Plus, on the practical side, it is starting to be impractical to have a coffee break in the middle of the service.  If we grow to much larger than we are now then we simply could not get everyone coffee in 5 minutes without a huge investment in coffee makers and the like.  It would take away the focus on God.

Plus, it helps to keep things changing.  You don’t grow without purposeful change.  This change is purposeful as explained above.  A church that grows has a flexible spirit.  The reason churches die and become unproductive is because they have an aversion to change.  Change is required for growth.  Change for dynamic churches is the normal.  Flexibility is a character trait that we must engage.

One final note, whenever we stop or start something I never see it as an all or nothing change, but rather see it as a tool that can be used when appropriate.  You take out a tool when you need it and you put it back up when it has served its purpose.  Shake-n-Howdy is not wrong, but it is a tool that has served its purpose.

When I first came here everyone was spread out for worship.  Some people were on the wall, on the picnic tables, and the like.  One of the first things we did was to decide that if we were going to worship we needed everyone together.  This is when we started with the false wall.  We wanted to encourage everyone to worship together, and so we did and we grew and people came to the Lord.  After that, we changed how we did announcements.  We no longer say birthdays and anniversaries and the like in our service.  In fact we keep announcements about events in our church to a minimum.  Why?  Because worship needs to be focused on God and not on announcements.  We made that change and we grew and people were saved.  I see Shake n Howdy in the same light.  We are focusing more as a church family on God and He will bless us for our efforts.

I recently was talking to another minister this week about making changes in the church.  He had made several purposeful changes in his church and the results were many people came to the Lord and the church tripled in size.  He noted to me though that people were still angry with him about the changes.  They didn’t really care if it helped everyone focus on God more or if it led to people getting saved.  They just didn’t like the change.  I found that fact fascinating.  Because y’all at Celebration are a pretty flexible group.

Churches are notorious for getting off the mission God has sent her to do, to seek and save the lost, to make disciples, to serve others compassionately.  We will not make that mistake at Celebration.  I want to give you all credit though; with all the changes we’ve made the last five years you have remained flexible.  You deserve some applause!  Not all changes work out the way we thought they would.  Other changes work out better.  Then there are the changes when you step back and say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  In all of it we seek to give God greater and greater glory.

I believe worship has the power to bring your non-believing friends and family to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.  Most likely, the first encounter someone will have with our church will be at our worship service.  Someone has invited a friend to church.  They are hoping for a God encounter for their friend.  It’s so important that they see a church family excited about God to make that happen!  Working together in this way we can make a great impact for God.

So come ready to worship a great big Heavenly Father who loves us so much.  He is so good to all of us!  He deserves our full concentration and praise!

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