Because of a reaction to the medication for my back pain, I had to miss church this week. We were able to set up a Skype link (a rather temperamental one) so I could still be a part of the morning worship service. What I experienced moved me to tears.
Normally, being moved to tears during a worship service is a good thing. There is nothing quite like the spine-tingling thrill of feeling God move through a group of believers. But it wasn’t His movement that caused my tears. These tears were brought on by a broken heart.
The worship portion of the service consisted of four wonderful, upbeat songs about what God has done for us–Hello My Name Is, I Am Free, God’s Not Dead and Oh Happy Day . Despite my pain I was taping my feet and clapping, dancing as much as I was able, as I smiled and sang along. Halfway through God’s Not Dead, I looked at the Skype window. No one else was dancing or swaying. I saw no evidence of clapping or foot tapping. Since my view was from the back, I don’t know if anyone was smiling. The only singing I could hear, though, came from the praise and the worship track and our worship team. It broke my heart to think my church didn’t care about the words they were singing. I wanted to shout at them through my computer, “God’s not dead- but you sure look like you are!”
That is a harsh thing to say about anyone, I know, especially my own church family. I know these people, and I know how they love Jesus. But would a visitor know that? What I witnessed on Sunday was not a warm, welcoming worship service. It was not the kind of thing that would make a person think, “These people know and worship a living God who set them free.”
If it had been my first service, if I didn’t know the people in those seats, I cannot honestly say I would be back.
The Bible tells us to sing praises to God. In Psalms, we are told to come together to sing praises. Psalm 149:1 says, “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.” Psalm 100:1 tells us to “Shout with joy to the Lord.” There are at least two places in Psalms where we are told to “Praise His name with dancing” (149:3 and 150:4.)
I know that worship, true worship, comes from the heart in a different way for each person. And it is God we should be striving to please as we worship. Yet we are also called to reach others for Him. What does it say to the unchurched traveler when our songs speak the joy of the freedom found in life with a God who is not dead while our body language suggests we are preparing for a funeral?
I can’t change the actions of everyone in the church. In fact, I can’t change the actions of anyone in the church– except me. When the music plays next Sunday morning, I plan to let it move me. I pray that the spirit of God washes over me in ways I can’t contain and the Pentecostal girl inside of me that has been silent for years comes out in full force!
I have prayed that my church would be set on fire for Jesus. If I can be the spark that starts that fire, I say “Bring it!”