I have spent years participating with, and leading, groups of Christians as we worship God.
We always reminded ourselves that worship was a personal decision, made out of relationship and dynamic interaction with the Spirit of the living God, not something that just (or even always) happens in church meetings.
But it is clear that something special can happen when we gather together and make our worship collective…
But what is this?
After all the years of trying to understand this better, I have more questions than answers. Here are some of them
- Why do we do it? Yes, I know we are supposed to, but what really motivates us?
- How do we take our private offerings of worship, and collectively present them to God?
- Or should we allow our worship to travel on the security and safety of tradition?
- Is it good to be relevant and progressive in the style of our worship?
- When do we do it, and what does it look like? Does it always have to be formal, ‘churchy’, and dominated by ‘worship professionals’- in my experience, these almost always have a posh guitar.
- Is there more than music as a way of collectively worshiping?
- What practices or attitudes of body and mind might HELP us to worship?
- What might we expect Him to do as we worship? Is he distant, or active? Is he particularly active as we worship?
- How much of our worship arises from individual choices or decisions?
- What might we aspire to, how do we measure the worth of our worship?
- How much arises as a response to that which is collective and shared – or even proscribed?
- Does God inhabit the praises of his people, and if so, how can we meet him there?
Some of the answers to questions like this already have the shape of answers given to me by my church tradition. But these answers are rarely complete, but only partial.
How we work out our collective answers to these questions may be different for all of us. But if we do not ask them, my experience is that something in the middle of us starts to whither and die.
Perhaps we become bored and stale.
But could it be that God is bored too?
I have come to think that the enemy of faith is stasis. Even if not everything around us needs to change- we always do.