In the busyness of American society our need to always be doing something has become a status symbol. The underlying consensus is that if you are busy, then you are successful. The incorrect attitude across all racial and economic backgrounds is this: “if you are not seen to be busy then you are not successful.” For most Christians, we too are falling into the “busy-trap.” In a 2016 article by the Journal of Consumer Research, the authors created a fictitious Facebook “person” and they asked participants to “follow her.” When the fictional user created posts about being busy (ie. working nonstop), the participants believed she had higher status and more money than if she posted about her time off (vacations, relaxing activities). As Christians we must take confidence in scripture as we remove some of the “busyness” from our life (Matthew 11:28, Psalm 4:8, Psalm 23, Psalm 46:10). The fact is that the American working class has more free time than ever before.
In 1948, the government started keeping track of working statistics, and Americans worked an average of 42.8 hours a week. Today we only average 38.7 hours per week. [Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey.] We have 5 more free hours per week than the previous two generations! The problem is, we as American Christians are bad at prioritizing. It is time we make a change for the better. Today is the day to make a change.
I have see this to be true because I have found myself “too busy” with activities on a weekly basis and the one thing that gets placed at the bottom of the list is my daily worship and time with the Lord. Now, I know that I SHOULD BE doing this regularly–and it should be non-stop–but for me, I have to plan it out–I have to make it a priority! This applies to the Church as well–we need to instruct our members to prioritize & help them accomplish this goal so that they may truly worship in spirit and in truth.
When we learn to prioritize our relationship with Christ, then we learn to live a daily practice of worship. Psalm 46:10 is a great example for us to look at. In the first half of the verse we are instructed to “be still” (relax, breathe, sit, stop, be). Why? Because in that time of stillness, your mind will be drawn into a state of awe of who God is and what our proper response should be: the second half of the verse, “[God] will be exalted among the nations, [God] will be exalted in the earth!” That is our job, our command, our first order of business–WORSHIP.
This must first and foremost begin with the leaders of the church (and I am not just talking about the pastors)…deacons, elders, leaders of Bible studies, et cetera should be practicing lives of making worship a daily priority for themselves. In our church we have a statement that we will “live worship to lead worship.” When the leaders of the church are practicing this then they will be able to instruct their “disciples” to do the same. Today is the day to make a change.
2. ETHOS STATEMENT
What is this going to look like, feel like, smell like and breathe like in your local congregation? That is a question for you as a leader to discuss and decide with other leaders. Bathe it in continuous prayer until the group of leaders reaches an agreeable conclusion (of course led by the Holy Spirit). For some churches it may mean cutting programs, for others it may mean implementing a program to teach the congregation about worship in spirit and truth. Yet, others may use a complete sermon series to lay this out to the congregation. The important thing is that something is done! We are far past the days of understanding and we must begin to instruct in a Biblical manner the ideas of worship and its importance. We are practicing an earthly version of what we will continuously display in an eternal life. Today is the day to make a change.
How are we preparing our congregation to infiltrate the “busyness” in their lives so that they can have those moments of daily worship? Have we given them the necessary resources? Have we allowed the church to contribute to the “busyness” or has the church allowed adequate time for daily worship? Are the leaders of the church displaying this idea of worship to the congregation in real and tangible ways? Are the leaders discipling others to understand how to sit, be still, and remain in awe of who God is?
Maybe you want to create a series of social media posts that encourage your congregation to take 60 seconds or 5 minutes out of their day to pray to God thanking Him for who He is, and who they are in Him. Our church posts a “Worship Wednesday” post in which we link to a worship song and encourage the congregation to reflect on certain aspects of the lyrics which point to God and our relationship with Him. This is an area where the creatives of the church can have a blast–and let them at it!
Maybe you need a library of books, maybe an online resource with instruction such as RightNowMedia, or maybe you use a snail-mail newsletter each month–whatever you do, the life of those being discipled in your church depends on it. Today is the day to make a change.
4. RINSE AND REPEAT
On the back of every shampoo bottle there is a line of instruction that says “rinse and repeat if desired.” (Or in the British version, “Rince and Repeat”–sorry, too many episode of The Crown on Netflix–I digress). This is true for this whole process of creating a culture of worship within the local church. I am fortunate enough to be on staff at a church where we re-evaluate often (usually every November) and then make a strategy plan for the next year. This constant evaluation year after year yields attainable and measurable results. Occasionally we go back to the drawing board; many times we keep pressing forward and make “tweaks” to already existing processes of discipleship, worship, growth, and structure. This idea of creating a culture of worship is not a RONCO one time thing of “set it and forget it,” it is an ongoing process year after year. But, just because it is a year by year process, there is no reason to pause or delay–it should be an encouragement that you as a church are continuing to make new disciples and train them Biblically in the areas of worship! Do not wait, TODAY is the day to make a change.