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The Greatest Gift We Have January 13, 2014

Posted by worshipconvergence in Christianity, Church, devotional, Leadership, ministry.
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This is not the result of some divine vision, where I was lifted to Heaven or shifted to another realm. This is not the result of a voice, plain as day, calling out of a bush or thin air. No, this comes from a tug at the heart of a worshiper, a heart that thought worship services were a collective display of approval, commendation, love, and adoration to God from His believers, not just His children, His believers; and that heart’s  experiences as a church staff member.

What’s odd, and by odd I mean disturbing, is how many Christians don’t see the problem, don’t see it as a problem, or deny it exists because it supposedly “works.” What is the problem? For one thing, “true and proper worship” is discipleship (Romans 12:1.) Worship and discipleship are supposed to happen within the believer regardless of circumstance or setting. Worship, as a gathered community, has certain Biblically inherent principles, such as returning the Word to God, singing praise to Him with gladness and bowing down in worship (2 Chronicles 29:30.) I’m sure people who make it through this reading and disagree will argue that I must also wish to include sacrifices and burnt offerings too, because that was also part of that 2 Chronicles passage. So I’ll state right now that no, those were made obsolete by Christ’s death on the cross. The new offering and sacrifice is your time and skill, heart, mind, soul, and strength: your love. Returning to the Romans 12 passage, self is the offering which is Holy and pleasing to God.

Problem- part 2: When did “go forth,” or as modern church calls it, “outreach,” become about how effectively you can get people to come to you? Many Church leaders claim a heart for seeking the lost, yet preach it from the pulpit (stage, to the modern church folk) on Sunday mornings and talk of it in meeting after meeting, leaving themselves little if any time to set the example. They spend their lives in havens of the found, where they know those they seek are not flocking. So, rather than meet them where they are, the example they set is to turn the church property and worship services in to magnets to attract the lost to them. This makes the non-believer and those new to the faith leaders in the church, whose opinions shape what is or is not worship (not that veteran Christians never make it about themselves.) It is written in 1 Timothy 3:6,

“They (church leaders) must not be new followers of the Lord. If they are, they might become proud and be doomed along with the devil.“

The leadership resource churchleaders.com has this to say of pride in the church,

“Unfortunately, many Christians and churches view their “brand” of Christianity as the only true or most true type of Christianity. They may not think they are the only Christians, but they do think they are the best or most right ones. This is a prideful and sinful attitude that grieves Jesus and dismembers His body.”

To segregate the Body, even just within the local assembly, because veteran Christians and/or new converts demand it be about them before they’ll attend the collective display to God from His believers, drips with pride like a tomato freshly cut with a butter knife. There are a whole lot of individuals in the assembly, but few members of His body.

If there’s one thing I believe the Church needs to be told, its found in Galatians 5:7-9,

“You were doing so well until someone made you turn from the truth. And that person was certainly not sent by the one who chose you. A little yeast can change a whole batch of dough.”

These days, the Church is so pridefully leavened, so fluffy and puffed up from the yeast of personal satisfaction and business-defined successes, that one can look through one side of the loaf to the other without obstruction – there’s so little Bread anymore, so many air holes like the space between a spider’s webbing. Its time for outreach ministers to GO forth, let go of the worship services, and seek those who know they are sick (Mark 2:17.) Instruct these people in the meaning of true worship, so when they come, they do so not as consumers, but as those who brought gifts to Emmanuel.

All it takes is the generations proclaiming through words or action, “Its about me, my pleasure, my satisfaction, my professional resume, and my sub-culture,” for the whole loaf to need started from scratch. Sadly, church leaders around the world who aren’t causing it are letting it happen.

Our selves: lovingly, unconditionally, and collectively offered, may well be the greatest gift His believers can commission. Who is willing to go in on that gift?

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Level Ground October 4, 2012

Posted by worshipconvergence in Christianity, Church, devotional, Leadership, ministry.
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The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” I walk downhill to get to church and then navigate the mounds and pedestals mounted by the various VIP members and guests; those visiting for the first time because of some outreach event that was aimed at them. those wealthy who buy their way into priority, those 20 to 40 year-old married couples trying to have kids, who are important because according to the pastor, “a thriving church, on paper, has more christenings than funerals per year.”

The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Its not supposed to matter if you’re male or female, old or young, married or single, barren or fertile, rich or poor. What does matter is that we’re supposed to belong to each other, share our burdens with each other, care for each other, lift each other up, encourage each other to live upright and righteous lives, confront and gently correct sin, deterring each other from using salvation as an excuse to do wicked things. What is not supposed to matter does, and what does matter does not.

The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” I am not married. I have no income. When I do its not much. And, I’ve been here before. I am not new to this place.

The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” I walk downhill to get to church and then navigate the mounds and pedestals mounted by the various VIP members and guests, and I realize just how far away from the cross I’ve wandered, this church has been relocated from the foot of the cross to where the ground is not level.

Standard of Excellence: Life as Worship May 6, 2012

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worship motivation

In church around the world, Sunday morning is a display of “the best of the best.” Whatever the motivation, church leaders and attendees hold those people on stage to a high standard. In some churches who are financially able, pros are hired to increase excellence on stage and help create a flawless atmosphere for “worship.” However, those same people look at the standard of living, (i.e. morals, actions, etc.) as a permanent beta test.

Given knowledge of extramarital activity of a volunteer ministry leader who bragged about it, a group of elders said “We already knew that and we don’t care. The Church really shouldn’t confront sin, we might scare people away. If we start trying to confront sin there’s not enough time in the day.” The standard of worship – as a way of life – is held to a much lower standard, if it exists at all. What would happen if we, in daily life, held each other to as high a standard as we hold singers, techs, etc. on Sunday morning? I once heard a Worship Leader say he requires his worship band to rehearse X number of times per song before full group rehearsal, citing that if you were asked to play in your favorite band you’d practice your hands off to meet their standards. Christians shouldn’t limit excellence of this caliber to the stage or video studio. If anything, it should be the opposite. The Body is out of shape because we only exercise certain parts, and only one or two days a week.

The sad truth of the average church is that leaders aren’t leading, they’re directing the chosen few who are outstanding in their field, but not necessarily in life. Harsh, cold, aloof, abrasive, vindictive, disconnected, dishonest. Just a few words that describe some people chosen to lead the Church, but bring too much business and politics background into the system. The church has a low standard for each other. Think of theoretical Communism versus putting it in to practice: theoretically everyone helps each other live. In practice, no one can attain supremacy so no one has the drive to excel. Its the same in church. The Church should be soaring, but its struggling.

The Church is supposed to be the light to the world. Every word and action should send the darkness scampering away like deer running from the sound of a cracking stick under a hunter’s foot. We’re not allowed. Speaking words of light into the darkness is seen as complaining, and pastors constantly preach against complaining. What if the Church had the humility to accept the help of others within who could help them attain a more Christ-like state of mind and life? What if complaints were seen, not as prideful arrogance of the complainer, but as a truthful perspective from someone on the other side of your eyes?

A life of worship isn’t about having attended church 52 Sundays a year. Its not helping the organization build or maintain properties or subordinate, compliant, silent staff, or being that staff member. Its living every day, speaking and acting like a Christian. Belonging to others and owning them in return. Caring for each other. Encouraging each other to live upright, righteous lives, which includes confronting and gently correcting sin when we have to. “Life as worship” – not just a catchphrase for the weekend stage. Hold each other to that level of excellence.