***Disclaimer: I mean no harm by this post, I have just been thinking and needing to get this off of my chest. If you feel offended by this, please know my heart and that I love you. I am trying to convey thoughts that have been rolling around in my head and heart for some time now.***
God is seeking worshippers. Those who, with reckless abandon, will give Him all glory, honor and praise. In fact, He is searching the earth for a heart that solely belongs to Him.
I believe that there are two camps in the body of Christ that are at odds with one another when it comes to worship. Over the past year and a half my husband and I have been attending a church that has been quite different in the realm of what we had once thought worship would be. I was under the impression in the past that worship was only good and correct if it lasted 2hrs every church service. That indeed, only God would come if worship stretched out far longer than 1hr, and if it were any shorter then certainly the spirit of my god did not reside there. I put that in lower case because truly… it was MY idea about what I thought God wanted. God doesn’t require of me a time limit after church service, but rather a posture of my heart.
We see this pretty clearly throughout scripture where God lays out what worship is to look like… and the more I searched, the less I realized it was about time limits. I believe that God is looking for quality over quantity. How focused is your heart towards the God that rescued you and brought you from the grave.
It makes me think of one of the earliest examples of how we should worship and posture our hearts. God was looking for the first fruit… the quality of worship from his sons.
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:1-7
All God wanted from these boys was worship. Something of value to bring before the throne. Abel brought his first fruits… his quality of worship was pure, it was devoted. Cain’s gift to the Lord required no real sacrifice. It required no sweat, no tears… no blood. Abel brought an animal to the Lord. An animal he most likely watched come into this earth. To sacrifice something that probably mattered much to him and his family required that he lay his faith before the Lord believing that He would come through for him. Abel laid down his quality of worship.
My husband and I now find ourselves at a church that has simple, yet powerful 30 minute worship sets. During our first few months at the church it seemed so different, yet without fail, the Holy Spirit was moving strongly in my life during those times. I often found myself only able to weep as I came before the Lord. Each time I felt my heart being worked on in some of the most intense ways that I have ever experienced. I would frequently look at my watch after worship had ended, and I was amazed that the Lord had moved so strongly in such a short period of time. Service by service Jesus was shattering my thoughts on what I had come to think of as acceptable worship. My heart was and is being transformed.
It no longer is about how long the service is, but rather the posture of my heart from the moment I walk through those doors at the back of the sanctuary.
Despite all of the moments that God had worked in our hearts at our new church home, I still questioned whether or not I could be happy with shorter worship services. People from our past would ask us how we were okay with that and I would always take it before the Lord. He consistently reminds me that the Holy Spirit is outside of time. How could I ever box Him into a time constraint?
An article from www.churchleaders.com puts it like this:
“The issue of time and the leading of the Holy Spirit is a common struggle in the church. The good news is the Holy Spirit knows how to work within time and cultural constraints. The Holy Spirit works with great power, but in our humanity we often feel we need to do more, to go longer. Longer does not necessarily mean more effective. Many times, longer is less effective as we start to lose the attention of parts of the congregation.”
This article made me think of something a pastor had once shared with us as we served with him at his church. He told us that the presentation of the Word was as much worship as the instrumental kind. He stressed to us that with shortening the presentation of the Word that we are giving ourselves less time to present the Gospel to the lost. The Word very clearly states that the Gospel is the POWER of God unto salvation. We should not be ashamed of the presentation of the Word. Worship may be powerful, but the Word is the power of God that leads to salvation. That is so important.
If worship is more important to you than the presentation of the Word within the four walls of the church, think about the lost. The broken and destitute need to hear. So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. I believe that your undefiled worship is as important as hearing the presentation of the Word.
What qualifications or standards are you using to measure the quality of worship? Typically the answer will be how we felt about it. We often assess the quality of worship based on how well it resonated with us. It’s about our emotional connection. A “good” worship service is one that we liked. A “bad” worship service is one that didn’t engage or fit with our style. In many cases, we assess the quality of worship by what it meant to us.
In so doing, we miss the point of worship entirely.
God is just searching for our hearts to be set entirely on Him. It’s not about the length of the worship service, it is about our hearts. God can do as much in 5 minutes as he can in 5 days. That is just how he works.
God may take us back to a church with 2 hour worship services, or He may keep us forever where we are at now. All I can hear Him speak is that I stay in a posture of worship, so that despite the time constraints within the four walls, I may stay in a place that keeps my eyes fixed on Christ in endless worship.
In that place, I will remain at peace.