Explain this to me. Every Sunday we have people who come to worship at our church and they leave uplifted, encouraged in the faith and ready to live for and serve Christ. Others come to the exact same worship service and Sunday school and leave unchanged. Some leave complaining and miserable. How can the same service produce such different outcomes?
I had to laugh at this irony recently when one family member, a 15 year old, texted me during the service (what!!!?) writing, ”I love the guitar player and singer . . . can those college folks play again next week?” When I got home from Church, I had an email from a church member from the same family saying the music was not good.
So which was it?
How is it that some folks almost always see the good and others rarely do? I feel sorry for worship leaders and pastors. In many settings they truly can’t win. It is almost like they are on American Idol and everyone in the pew is Simon Cowell! Fortunately, most of my parishioners are not like this but in many settings pastors and worship leaders hear:
The music is too fast . . . the music is too slow . . . the volume is too loud . . . the volume is not loud enough . . . we have too many hymns . . . we don’t have enough hymns . . . we want more spontaneity . . . we want a more predictable and orderly liturgy . . . we want drama and dance . . . we don’t want any of that worship arts stuff . . .we need more communication . . . we hate having announcements during church . . . etc.
In 27 years of ministry, I have learned that parishioners are either consumers or givers. There is little middle ground. Consumers think Church is about them. Church is about their wants, their perceived needs . . . and they are the only ones who know just how things should be.
Givers, on the other hand, come expecting not to take but to give. They expect to give God the praise due His name. They expect to focus on Christ and not on the pastor’s tie or how peppy the choruses are. They are eager to listen to the Scripture and to hear God speak. They pay attention, even take notes during SS and the sermon. They are eager to worship through giving . . . to honor God by giving him first fruits, tithes and offerings. They come to serve not to be served. They come to be part of a family, not a consumer.
So what are the 10 sure-fire ways to be miserable in church?
Fail to prepare yourself spiritually during the week. Do not crack open your bible, pray or think of Christ all week. This is similar to the 50 year old who decides to go play 3 sets of tennis after a 29 year layoff or a 40 year old who goes to the gym and lifts weights for the first time in years.
Go to bed late on Saturday night and sleep in to the very last minute on Sunday. Make sure you are good and tired and perhaps grumpy. Make sure you skip breakfast.
Do not bring your bible, that might indicate you’re too religious.
Be convinced that you know more about worship and Scripture than anyone else there. Surely you know more than the pastors who have gone to seminary for 3-7 years. It is similar to me going to a hockey game. I do not know “squat” about hockey but I sure know more than the referees and can yell out how dumb their call was!
Bring your Blackberry or cell phone so you can text all during the worship service.
Be sure not to sing but to stand with your arms folded across your chest and with the attitude that singing is a waste of time or for sissies.
Focus on yourself. Fail to remember that corporate worship is not geared to one particular style or parishioner. It is for ALL the people to worship together. Christ should be the center of everyone’s attention.
Be a snob. Be sure and not speak to anyone you do not know.
Listen to gossip and let it embitter you. Don’t ever try to work out perceived wrongs the way Jesus instructed in Matthew 18
Watch your watch. If you can cultivate the mindset that Church is a duty rather than a privilege, you will become expert at looking at your watch. I mean who would want to spend one extra minute in the Lord’s presence or worshipping with the Body of Christ? We gotta get to the buffet before it gets crowded.
Quigg Lawrence is the Senior Pastor at Church of the Holy Spirit located at 6011 Merriman Road in Roanoke. Visit them on the web at www.coths.org.