Sundays: A Message to Church & Worship Leaders (and anyone else who wants to read this and be challenged)
Did you know that the life that Christ has called us to live is not easy or safe? In fact it is quite the opposite. The life that God is calling us to live, and the life He NEEDS us to live requires great courage, and can often feel dangerous. Doing God’s will in a fallen world IS inherently dangerous.
God has called us to 1. Tell the truth and 2. Love hurting people and neither are easy or safe.
So glad you started reading this right? I promise I am not stating these facts to be a Debby Downer, but to make a point and ask some questions that I hope provoke a sense of purpose when we walk into our corporate gatherings and to state that:
The God we name…
The music we sing…
The prayers we offer…
The scripture we read and preach…
HAS to call us deeper into God’s heart and deeper into the world for which Christ died.
Because if we are called to live dangerously and to love hurting people our services should be equipping rooms that accomplish more than the “post-church buzz” from good worship, but our worship must move the people in the congregation to courageous action that is set to take place most often outside of the Church walls.
Matthew 23:23-34 Challenges us to look at what we are offering, and how so often we “forget the weightier matters like Justice, mercy and faithfulness.
Question for consideration: Aside from the coffee, bagels, snazzy sermon illustrations and new vamp on that worship song, are we remembering that we are ministering to a group of people with a calling to be doers of justice, mercy and faithfulness to love hurting people, and are we equipping them for that task?
So many of us have been devastated by the situation in Nigeria and have shown our support with a hashtag, mostly because aside from praying the situation feels pretty helpless. Here is the reality. This is just one horrifying example of the Locust Effect of every day violence and injustice that is happening around the world. We are awake to this one because of the enormous attention it has received from the media.
Challenge: After we have parked our cards, dropped kids off at the nursery and rushed into rehearsal or your office for last minute prep, what are you thinking about?
What do we have as a reminder of the sufferings in the world which reveals the urgency of the need for hearing and living out the Gospel and sacrificial living in the name of Christ?
Those reminders are what remind us of the need to be attentive to the people in front of us and to lead them in trans-formative worship
In the last 5 years I have been working against the injustice of human trafficking and violent oppression, I have heard countless stories of injustice, and I have heard stories of God bringing freedom to so many lives. I have met precious survivors that demonstrate more love and bravery than I will ever have and on Sundays, whether I am on stage or in my seat and we begin to worship and sing of Gods love, freedom and our need for more of Him, my experience is no longer just for me or just about me, it is always with them in mind.
I can’t help but keep in mind those around the world who are also having Church, but their Sundays look quite different from ours. That there are those who are having Church in a brothel, praying for their freedom day. Some are having church in their new home after being sold for $12 and are praying that God will come to their rescue.
I also keep in mind the incredible stories of hope like Griselda’s, who was freed from her abuser and is now free to live our her dreams, and countless stories similar to hers where the goodness and faithfulness of the God of Justice comes to life, and worship and praise always abounds from the reality of the freedom that IS available in Christ when we come to Him and ask for His help.
To wrap this up, as I could continue for quite some time on this subject, here are a few questions for personal or group discussion:
1. Are people leaving that service, and actually giving their lives away for the poor and oppressed in a tangible way?
2. How do we measure whether this has been accomplished? What is the criteria?
3. What/who do we have our mind set on during our Sunday morning prep time?
4. How are you leading in worship with integrity?
5. Will God’s people wake up to worshiping God in such a way that we demonstrate we are awake by loving our neighbor in God’s name?
6. Will we demonstrate faithful worship by “Doing Justice, Loving Mercy and Walking Humbly?
* Excepts from Mark Labberton’s book “Dangerous Act of Worship” (So if this blog offends you, it’s his fault.)