“Today’s guest blogger, Brian Fraaza, is the Worship and Administrative Pastor at The River.”
I like to be funny. I would rather write something hilarious that’s only vaguely insightful than something profound but boring. I couldn’t find anything funny today. I feel it’s only fair to warn you that, should you choose to proceed and read this, there isn’t anything to amuse you. Good luck.
I recently read a story about Bill Johnson, the pastor of Bethel Church in California. The story described how, years ago, Bethel was “plugging along,” struggling to gain traction. A well-known worship leader was having a conversation with Bill and Bill asked, “What do we need to do to fix this?” He was looking for more impact. The worship leader told him to take his PA system “…out back and burn it” and to begin to use resources (monetary, time, influence) on worship. Now, Bethel has become perhaps the most influential and forward thinking church in the current worship movement. They launched Jesus Culture and countless musicians and songs that are having tremendous Kingdom impact across the world. Worship is central to the philosophy of ministry at Bethel. I’ve heard Bill Johnson and other teachers say on more than one occasion “…I won’t promise you a teaching, but I can promise you we’re going to worship.”
Worship matters. In the 10 years I’ve been at The River, I’ve had numerous opportunities to speak with church pastors and planters in many different types of settings. One thing has continued to surprise me. In the churches that I have been exposed to, worship is almost universally underemphasized and undervalued. It’s often viewed as a check-off, a hoop to jump through, a vehicle to move people into the important stuff (usually the teaching). I’ve discovered that the people leading these churches often don’t know what it is to be a worshipper themselves. Worship is a profound mystery, and it takes a lot of work and practice to get good at it. But engaging in that journey is crucial to our ability to impact the world around us. Too many churches neglect the responsibility of training people to be worshippers and squander their currency on other, less important things.
Everything is Worship. We were created to worship. That is our purpose in life…that everything we do would bring glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31). At The River, we have set things up very deliberately and from the beginning so that the teaching and the fellowship and the children’s ministry and everything else that happens is an extension of worship. The point of our gatherings is to worship and glorify God. Something about that resonates with people because it is meeting a need that is hardwired deep in the soul of every person that has ever been created. When the point of what we’re doing becomes something other than glorifying God, then we have lost our way. And this, I think, is where many churches find themselves. People’s hunger to worship is a really good indicator of their ability to self-feed on the Word of God. Or, said differently, those who feel the constant need to be fed by someone else often have much to discover about being a worshipper.
So, friends, this is why we spend so much time and energy on worship. Teaching, leading, compelling and practicing. And why I believe that will only grow over time. For us to see The Kingdom fully alive in us, we need to be worshippers.