Sunday, March 20, 2011

Coming Back to The Heart of Worship

My entire life I've been connected in a deep way to my churches. 
August 1965 …Revered Robert Souders began his 37 year tenure as the Senior Pastor. At this time the membership was at 56, by the time he retired in 2002 the membership had reached 1,764.

When I was born St. Matthew UMC in Belleville, IL was my home church. 
My grandfather was the minister there and until he retired from there, I always felt a deep connection to the building and people. I would go nearly every summer to stay with my grandparents and did all things church related for my age group! I went to summer camp, and most times 2 or 3 services on Sundays. Some of my closest friends in my childhood were from that church. 

After we moved to TN we attended Calvary Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN, and then on to Fairview UMC in Maryville, TN. We started Fairview when I was 8 or 9 and I got involved in Youth, Nursery work, Youth Choir, and any other area I could. I spent a LOT of my time at church through middle school and high school, but in spite of that I never really felt "truly connected" to "my" church. 

Then we moved to Summerville, SC. and found Bethany UMC.
This is really a sketch of Bethany. It is a BEAUTIFUL church!
The instant connection we felt was so amazing. We didn't have to try at all. We immediately felt committed to going EVERY Sunday and joined in on Wednesday night activities. I had never in my life felt more welcome. Sure I was welcome at St. Matthew, but it was like I was in the royal family. Everyone knew me from the time my mother announced her pregnancy. 
This time everyone knew me because they seemed to want to! We were greeted by nearly every person that passed us in a hallway. Our children were instantly made family in their respective nursery classes. My son got a spot in the preschool, and my husband and I volunteered to lead recreation for VBS and later went on to teach 3rd-5th grade Bible study in the fall. 

The the unthinkable happened and we moved. 

Since then I have been stubborn. Judgmental. Unable to allow any church to measure up. 

In college I fell in love with Matt Redman's song "Heart of Worship".

The story (and I'm loosely telling it here) goes that there was a church divided. Some members wanted contemporary praise and worship music, and some wanted ONLY traditional Hymns. People were up in arms and ready to leave the church, and the song was penned to remind the congregation that the music wasn't to please them, but rather to worship God. 

I read some posts the other from another blogger that I truly admire. She was so frustrated with having disappointment in her church. WHY can't a church be a place where everyone is accepted? Why can't there be something for everyone? Why do congregations and clergy want to sink tons of cash into a fancy facility instead of helping with a real need? This surely can't be what God has intended for his people in HIS church. 
One thing I've learned is this: Churches are operated by HUMAN BEINGS. As such, there is a good chance that no matter what church you attend, there is bound to be something that will disappoint you. There is bound to be some financial decision or music choice you don't approve of, and though this is terrible, someone will accidentally be overlooked and/or pushed away. There will be times when NONE of the ministers messages seem to be directed at you. (I LOVE when I feel like a sermon was written for me, but shouldn't I be okay if one time it might just be for someone else?)

Standing in judgment of ANY of these things is not our place. What we are going for is simply and most entirely to WORSHIP. To honor HIM with our most humble offerings and praise. The point of going is NOT to soak up as much of him as you can, but rather to give as much as you can to HIM! It is in GIVING that we receive anyway, so it would stand to reason that, like most things in life, you will get out of ANY church, what you put into it. 
If you only get involved where to feel "connected", and only stick around where you are "comfortable", you just might be missing the purpose he has for you in the worship portion of your life. 

For me this means that I have to let Bethany off of my pedestal and allow a new opportunity and a new church into my life. My year in Summerville was no doubt God filling needs in my life and firming my foundation to pass along when the opportunity arises. 

"I'm coming back to the heart of worship, and it's all about YOU. I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it, and it's all about you. It's all about you Jesus."

Get back to the heart of worship! 


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