“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” –John 4:23
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” –Romans 12:1
In my realm of Pentecostal praise and worship, in a congregational setting (I can’t speak for the whole realm of Christdom), many believers are swayed to try and have an “experience” with God. I think that they are missing the point of congregational worship. I don’t think congregational worship is about having an experience with God. I think that it is a precedent to the real focus of what is involved in a congregational setting – proclamation of the Sovereign King.
Proclamation is giving glory and praise to God despite what one is feeling. It is being shackled to declaring the truth, despite what experience or feeling says. Proclamation has to do with commitment. Like I said above, I think that experience is important, but I don’t think it is the main focus. Experience should be what a believer seeks in their own personal devotional time. This is a two-fold process of balancing experience with proclamation; its fruits are a personal walk with Christ and fulfilling the mission of God, which is the Great Commission.
I don’t think that congregations are the only ones in the wrong here. I think leaders of the church are to be held responsible too. Take time and read the majority of music sung in corporate worship settings. The majority of them talk about 1st person experiences – ignoring the purpose of congregational worship, which is to worship God as a collective whole.
Do you have a healthy balance of personal devotion and commitment?
Take time this week and focus on what you do when you spend time with God personally and corporately. I don’t think that these two ideas should be divorced. But I do think that we need to have different focuses of them in different settings, because there are different purposes of worshiping God collectively and personally. Remember – I don’t have this figured out. I might change my mind in a week and wonder why I ever thought this. Take time this week, whether you agree or disagree with me, and ask yourself if you are truly worshiping God. Live for Him. Meet with Him. Declare His love.