I realise I have not been writing or updating this blog for a while now. There are many reasons of course but one in particular that I want to share with you guys.
As I sit here typing this it is almost exactly 4 years to the day that I started this blog and ministry. 4 years of learning, probably more for me than those who read what I wrote! Over the last 4 years I have learned so much from trying to unpack my thoughts and beliefs of Jesus, grace, the supernatural and that is not an undertaking one can go through without being personally changed in many areas. But the funny thing about change is that when you change, everything else seems to change with you, or at least your perspective of it.
With that being said and with all the changes I feel inside me, I am no longer going to be writing or updating this site. I have decided to lay Charisma Ministries to rest and reboot. Yes, I am starting over from scratch. I am currently working on a new blog which will hopefully be an awesome new adventure for me and hopefully for you too! As soon as I am ready to launch that blog I will make one more post here to let you all know about it for those who would still like to follow what I write.
As you can imagine, making a radical change like this when you have a blog that reaches thousands every month in hundreds of countries is no easy task. It’s pretty scary actually. But I’m excited nonetheless! I especially want to thank you all for the 4 years you have walked with me as a part of Charisma Ministries. Thanks for the interactions, the emails, the encouragement, the comments, the questions, the friendships and yes even thanks to the haters who help keep me on my toes…
There is only one thing I would like to ask of you guys: Would you mind sharing with me how you have been helped, touched, blessed or whatever by me and my little blog so I can have just a small idea of the impact it has made. You can use the comments section below. It would mean a lot to myself and Rensia.
Here’s to new beginnings and a new adventure!
Yours in Grace!
In my previous article about worship I might not have been very clear on my intent in writing it. Some people thought I was bashing singing songs as a legitimate form of worship, which I wasn’t.
My actual intent for writing it was because worship is just one of the many topics I have asked myself questions about. More specifically, I want people to think about why we do what we do. So here are some of the questions floating around my cerebrum:
1. Do we sing because it’s scheduled into the programme sheet for the service?
It sometimes almost feels this way just because no matter which church you go to, there will be singing scheduled somewhere. Every. Single. Time.
2. Do we sing because we have always done it?
Well, we are creatures of habit and don’t break with traditions easily. The Sunday liturgy is apparently just as holy and sacred as the clergy imposing it, or so they would have you believe.
3. Do we sing because we need some way to prove to God we really love Him?
Of course not, if you understand grace and the new covenant. Worship is not evidence of love; it is an expression thereof. If you are worshipping in order to proof how much you love God, you are merely self-righteous and under the law. You might want to stop that before it kills you.
4. Do we sing because otherwise God doesn’t show up?
The way some like to focus on ‘pressing in’ (whatever that means) and breaking through whatever Jesus couldn’t break through on the cross, it does seem that some believe God visits them only when the worship is just right, and just anointed enough. If only the church would realize the huge difference between habitation and mere visitation.
5. If we don’t sing, is it still a ‘church service’?
To me a church service is where the church serves people. Not necessarily when and where they gather. If you are only sitting and listening, you are being served and you aren’t doing any serving in anyway except serving to fill the pews and, fingers-crossed, the tithing bucket.
6. Is there still life in it when we do it so routinely it bores us?
I once went to a 3 day conference with 3 sessions a day. Before every service they would sing the exact same 3 songs every single time. After the first day myself and about 50% of the other attendees started showing up an hour later just to miss the mind-numbing repetitiveness we were otherwise forced to participate in.
7. Why do we seem to limit corporate expressions of worship to singing?
Ok, I know some like to dance and paint and wave flags and that’s all good. Personally, I would love to hear more testimonies or report-backs from what happened during the week as the church went out to serve people. The real church service is Monday to Saturday. Sunday should be to debrief, get advice about serving more effectively etc. I would much rather listen to an hour of healing and deliverance testimonies than sing the same chorus over and over and over and over and over and over because we just need to make sure God really heard us the 37th time.
8. Are we singing because we feel condemned if we don’t?
Like praying, confessing, reading your bible and attending church regularly, many people feel condemned if they don’t perform well enough in praise. As if God was sitting up somewhere saying, ‘I command you to worship me or else I’m going to smite you!’ GOD DOES NOT DEMAND WORSHIP OF ANYBODY.
9. Are we singing because God is insecure and needs constant reassurance?
You know, God is just never quite sure if we really love Him if not. If we can sing for 45mins once a week, maybe He will become a little more convinced. If we can soak for 3 hours every day, His doubts will surely be washed away. Oh, wait. God and doubt? Yeah, I don’t think those go together.
10. Is God so narcissistic and egotistical that He created us to worship Him and constantly tell Him how awesome He is?
You bet! And not only you, He also created innumerable angels to help us tell Him how awesome He is all the time. If we don’t, He gets so upset He sends calamity and wrath our way. Oh no wait again. That doesn’t sound anything like Jesus. My bad.
11. Is worship really about telling God how awesome He is in song or is it something entirely different altogether?
Yes, it IS something entirely different altogether.
12. So what is worship?
I will tell you what I believe worship is. In the next post… hahaha! (Cliff-hanger)
Grace and Peace!
I’ve always found the tale of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman about worship to be an interesting one. She asks Him a very specific question and He gives a few very specific answers. But what intrigues me more at the moment is the type of question she asked.
John 4:19-20 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
This question, which wasn’t even really a question but rather a statement, to me is inherently formalistic. By formalistic I mean the way in which religion and legalism is ritualistic and repetitively practiced by groups of people.
Her question starts very broad regarding the physical location of worship. Should it be done on the mountain or should it be done in Jerusalem? Now Jesus immediately cuts to the bone in His answer, seeing right through a statement that was meant to provide justification of her way of worship, should He have chosen her way as the right way. But what if He didn’t? What if He indulged her and said Jerusalem or the mountain?
I believe she would have followed up with a second question, narrowing the formalistic focus:
Should we worship in the morning or in the evening?
Should we raise one hand or two?
Should we sing 2 fast songs and 1 slow one or 1 fast and 2 slow?
Should we use an organ only or a full on band with lights and smoke machines?
There are many questions we can ask about how we prefer to worship, our method of worship if you will. Now many will already be thinking that there is no method, there is only worship in spirit and truth. Yes, that is true, but then why has Christian worship been boxed in to be 3-4 songs sung for 30-45mins on a Sunday morning?
If you say the method is not important, why is it done in exactly the same way in every church, every denomination, every city of every country and nation around the world? I have been to thousands of different churches in my life. Every single one sings songs together as their corporate worship time.
Personally I feel the typical corporate Sunday worship time is a very awkward moment for many people, especially ‘visitors’. Firstly we are all semi-manipulated by peer pressure to sing along, visitors included.
Secondly we start feeling very alienated because we are just standing there while some are flopping and flaying around.
“Am I not doing it right?’ is the first question that pops into mind.
Thirdly, some scan the room trying to see what the quickest way out of the building would be. Seriously, I have seen way too many ‘visitors’ make a run for it during worship because it was just too much for them handle. This alone is probably the biggest reason why I never had any desire to ‘bring my friends’ to a ‘service’ to encounter God.
Forcing people to take part in a sing-a-long while half the crowd is speaking in tongues and the other half is rolling on the floor is enough to send anybody running. It’s also not how to spread the gospel effectively. Maybe that’s why Paul said to not do those things when unbelievers visit our meetings… (1 Cor 14:23)
If only scripture was as important to the corporate church as the traditional way they have always been doing things for years…
In the Bible, people would always be running to Jesus. They would flock and crowd and press to be in His Presence. But when we attempt to ‘call down and host the presence corporately’ during our worship sessions, people run away. That tells me there is something not quite right. Any method of worship that scares away unbelievers is a bit suspect in my mind.
Many might say, ‘I can’t help how they react to our worship. I will worship God unashamedly!’ Nonsense! Of course you can help it. If you are inviting visitors to introduce them to the gospel, why are you choosing to do things that could potentially and purposefully alienate them, freak them out and make them not want to ever come back? That seems rather counterproductive.
On the other hand, I have friends who went to go worship in the middle of a new age festival. They set up their equipment and just started singing in the street. People flocked to them and many got saved that day. This might sound like the exact opposite of what I am saying but there is a slight difference. They allowed the Spirit to direct.
Is there room for the Spirit if we just inherently do the same thing over and over and over? Are we truly being led by the Spirit to worship in the exact same way every week in every church around the world? I somehow doubt it. I am asking these questions of myself and my own worship as much as I am asking it to the church.
Are we truly being led to worship in Spirit and truth, or are we just falling into formalism and hoping the Spirit will approve? Or have we so identified singing with worship that even though we know it’s not just about singing we can’t help but to always revert back to just singing?
I know there is a more excellent way to worship, one that doesn’t alienate and that doesn’t get stuck in formalism. One that truly glorifies Jesus and would want people to flock to Him.
Amos 5:21-24 “I hate, I despise your feast days, And I do not savor your sacred assemblies. 22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. 23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. 24 But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Justice and Righteousness. Actually serving and helping people is what God desires. That is true worship. And not just singing about it, actually doing something. The Message translation of this scripture really nails it for me.
“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
To be continued… PS. Please share your views about how you define worship in the comments section below!