Is Worship the Missing Jewel of the church?
Over fifty years ago, A. W. Tozier wrote that worship was the “missing jewel of the church.” For many of us, it is difficult, if not impossible, to look back into the 60’s or 50’s and know what worship was like in the church, however, it is interesting to read the words of this church leader of yesterday decry the worship experience of the church as being inauthentic. In other words, according to Tozier, men, women, and children went to places of worship every Sunday morning and never really experienced worship at all. I suppose he thought they were simply going through the motions by singing the hymns of the faith and listening to sermons. In the midst of this activity, it seems that at least some churchmen thought the church was missing the whole point.
Since Tozier wrote his little booklet, the church and the nation have gone through tremendous change. We have experienced wars, lived through economic crisis’s, and endured political squabbles that have become commonplace. The church has gone through peaks and valleys as well. The Jesus movement of the 60’s and 70’s led to the “worship wars” of the 80’s and 90’s. The growth of the charismatic movement led many Christians in the theological center to question the authenticity of their worship that was more cerebral than experiential. Hundreds of books have been written on the topic of worship and numerous models can be observed not only on televisions but also the internet. After all the church has been through in the last fifty years, are we any closer to finding “the missing jewel?” Is our worship still man-centered instead of God-centered? Are we more focused on entertaining ourselves or experiencing God? Do we sing songs about the benefits of our faith, or is our worship directed to the author of our faith? Do we come to church to “get” something or to give something? Is God the audience or are we?
It seems to me that if a jewel is missing, we ought to be doing everything in our power to find it. While individual Christians may have some influence over whether or not other Christians worship, the real truth is that we can only change ourselves. Is the jewel still missing? If it is, what should we do to rediscover it?
once again, I feel like the same questions that are heavy on your heart, are heavy on mine. As I lead worship every week around the country, it is interesting to see how some churches are discovering that missing jewel, yet some seem to be running further and further from “the jewel. I think the missing jewel is the relationship. Yes, we are “followers of Christ”, but are we really? We have accepted Him a our Savior, but have we knelt to HIm as our Lord and King? Fully surrendered everything? Worship is the overflow of our hearts. It is the response to what God is doing through the relationship we have in Him. If we have not been cultivating that relationship through His word and prayer, there will be no response to His greatness, because we have stripped Him our of our lives. We have lost sense of who we are really worshipping.
For an example of this truth, youth camps come to mind. Teenagers go to these camps for a week and God does great things through there lives. They come back telling about the great worship they had etc. Why? They have spent a week soaking in scripture and prayer; cultivating that relationship. Why do they lose that passion when they get home? They let go of the relationship.
So it all really comes down to what the congregation does throughout the week. There is nothing the worship leader can do to “get the church to worship”. He cannot create a response in someone. The church MUST be growing daily. They MUST be soaking in the powerful word of God and prayer. They MUST get to know the King who has saved them from eternal death. The missing jewel: Relationship.
Worship in spirit and truth with art and heart is key!