What do you expect out of church?
If you are about to answer that question, then back up and think about it again. I would imagine that the first thing that popped into your head was a worship service. Since church and worship are two separate things, let’s reword the question…What do you expect out of worship?
STOP! Don’t answer that. That question is one of the biggest problems that Christians try to answer. Who is the audience? Last time I checked, God is the audience. We spend so much time and energy trying to make worship (or what we call “church”) meet our expectations. Too often, worship is about us. I didn’t like that song. That prayer was too long. Why did the preacher talk about that today? We’re going to be late for lunch. When did we become the object of our worship?
God must be at the center of our worship. We are called to praise and honor Him who has created us in His image. When we begin evaluating the quality of worship according to our needs and desires, we diminish the purpose of our praise.
We often think that we come together to hear a great lesson, encourage each other through singing and pray for those who are sick. While all of those things are good and important, they are not the purpose for our worship. The 19th Century Danish Christian philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, said that “worship has three components: the performers, the prompter, and the audience. It is vital to know who plays each part!” (Mike Cope, In Search of Wonder, p. 31)
Consider what the psalmist, David, wrote:
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100 NIV)
Notice that it is the Lord God who is the recipient of David’s praise. It is for the glory of God Almighty that we worship. God is the audience. He is our Creator, our Redeemer, our Salvation.
The question should never be, “What do you expect out of worship?” The question must always be, “How am I honoring and glorifying God through my praise?” Who is the audience? God is the audience. Worship has never been nor will it ever be about us. Worship is for God alone. It is His name that we praise.
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the Lord. (Psalm 106:48 NIV)