“That’s Not Worship!”

I’ve heard every kind of discussion about worship you can imagine. I’ve heard people complain about the music being too loud. I’ve heard complaints about drums and guitars. I’ve also heard complaints about too many hymns, the music being too slow, and the volume being too soft.

Lest you think all the complaints were about music, I’ve also heard complaints about prayers being too long, or too short. People complain prayers sound too formal and complain we have are too causal in the way we address God.

And of course I’ve heard people complain about the sermons. My all-time favorite was the woman who complained my sermons were not deep enough. She knew this because she understood them. She figured if she understood them, they couldn’t be deep enough. I’ve heard the sermon had too many stories, or not enough stories; it lacked a main point; and of course, the most common complaint of all, it was too long. No one has ever complained that my sermons were too short!

I’ve been told, “I hate it when people clap during worship” and asked, “Why don’t people shout and jump?” People share they believe you shouldn’t bring coffee into the worship center, and others tell me we should offer a full breakfast on Sunday – for free!

When it comes to worship, everyone has an opinion. “That’s not worship” they say. Maybe that’s the problem. We think worship is for us. It is about our taste, our tradition, our desires.

The reality is worship isn’t for us. It is for God. It honors Him. It is about giving Him priority in our souls. Worship happens in that moment when you open your soul to Him.

You can worship with rock and roll and with Bach and Beethoven. You can worship with pipe organ and with drums. There is no sacred volume, either loud or soft.

I’ve worshiped God navigating my boat down the Wateree River, and in our worship center. I’ve worshiped God in an ultra-formal, high church, pipe organ service, and under a tent singing in the desert of Mexico. I’ve worshiped God in a seminary chapel with a thousand voices singing praise and in my truck, singing along to the radio.

Only God can truly decide what worship is or isn’t. A good rule of thumb is whatever helps people experience the presence of God is a good worship environment. We also need to accept we need different environments for different people. But let’s not condemn someone because they need a different environment than we do.

I’m writing this post from a booth at Sumter Cut Rate Drugs. There is an adorable little blonde headed girl seated at the next booth over. I think she is two. When her grilled cheese sandwich came, her Mom and Dad told her to bow her head and fold her hands. She did while they prayed. There was something in her simple trust of her parents that sent joy to my soul. I praised God for reminding me I am His child. My soul opened, and I worshiped.

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