God is passionate about his glory. He says, “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8). Worship is a holy invitation to enjoy God, to express our love, adoration, and gratitude to our Creator, to “ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name” (Psalm 29:2). Is your church passionate about God’s glory? Do your people engage in worship like they mean it? Below are five indications that your congregation undervalues worship, followed by one practical suggestion on how to reverse that tendency.
1. The people don’t sing.
I travel extensively, so I’m in different kinds of churches all the time, and I’m noticing a disturbing trend: people in our congregations aren’t singing. In most churches, I would estimate that less than half the people sing. And most of those are women. Sad to say, but the majority of Christian men aren’t keen on singing God’s praises in church.
2. The people watch instead of participate.
Not only do people not sing, they don’t generally engage on any other level. Conditioned culturally to be spectators instead of participants, people today are downright lethargic when it comes to worship. The first couple rows may be fully engaged. That’s where all the “worship groupies” sit, but look beyond the front row. Sit in the back sometime and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. People are not participating. Some are just staring passively into space. I know you can’t always judge by appearances, but it’s pretty obvious that the majority of the people in church today are not engaged during worship.
3. People show up consistently late for church.
For some, worship isn’t worth showing up for church on time. It’s understandable for those with small children to run late on Sunday morning, but too many of us arrive well after the worship set has started. Those same people wouldn’t think of missing the sermon. After all, that’s the real “meat and potatoes” of the service. However, they have no qualms about missing worship.
4. People don’t attend when their favorite speaker isn’t preaching.
Does church attendance go down when your main speaker is out of town? If your people stay home when their favorite speaker isn’t in the pulpit, they’re ignoring one of the main reasons believers gather in the first place: to offer God our best worship.
5. Splits and schisms over worship styles
Generally speaking, worship wars are most likely to occur in churches that undervalue worship, which is ironic given the fact that such controversies always generate debate at a fevered pitch. The problem is that the argument most often boils down to worship styles. In spite of the fact that the Bible doesn’t endorse any one type of music or mode of worship, but instead allows for freedom and variety, believers too often come to view their personal preferences as sacred. It must grieve the heart of God that something like worship, which according to Romans 15:5-6 is meant to reflect our unity in Christ, would instead become a source of conflict and strife.
There are many reasons why people don’t engage during worship, far too many for me to cover in one blog post. However, the most common reason is that our people lack biblical knowledge and understanding about worship. We can’t expect them to value worship if we don’t educate them about its importance and deepen their understanding and appreciation of it. To that end, I strongly recommend exposing your congregation to passionate, biblical teaching on worship. Even one sermon will go a long way in raising enthusiasm. However, for more lasting results, I humbly suggest having your church go through my latest book together, Worship on Earth as it is in Heaven. As uncomfortable as I am touting my own work, I do so not because it’s my book, but because I strongly believe in its message. If you want your people to engage on a deeper level during worship, put this book on your church’s recommended reading list. Or include it in your church’s small group curriculum. For more information and a short video clip about the book, click here.