Worship is Not Passive
Well, here we are, in the spring of 2021. It has been an extremely difficult year in a variety of ways, prompting much thought. One of the concerns I have as a worship pastor is that, in the midst of the pandemic, we may have created habits that are not ideal for a believer. When the pandemic first began, we had to go 100% online. While this was a great option for the season we were in, where there were extremely limited options for the church to gather corporately, it revealed some weaknesses with not gathering as the people of God.
Transparently, I found there were times where I, on the couch watching the online stream, had begun passively observing the songs being sung, prayers being prayed, and other moments that I missed, by just…watching. I found myself slipping into “Netflix mode” while I was “worshiping.” I wasn’t actually worshiping; I was observing. I was passively taking it in like a consumer, instead of actively engaging my heart and voice in responding to God’s glory.
As we are now regathering in increasingly larger groups, I have been reminded, and felt in poignant ways, the reality that worship is meant to be participatory and not passive. Now, for some of you, due to health concerns or other contributing factors, you are not able to re-gather due to the continuation of COVID-19 being a reality, but some of these principles can still be applied to worshiping at home.
I, for one, found I missed being together tremendously. God did not design us as worshipers to just sit and listen while songs are being sung. He created us to engage with heart, voice, mind, and body with all that we have. He designed us to do this with one another! The Bible goes so far as to even outline some of what this will be like in eternity (Revelation 7). Truly, God’s glory demands nothing less.
As you know, with lowering COVID-positive cases and increased safety to gather, the Indiana Governor recently released some restrictions that were in place to combat COVID-19. For the first time in a year, I heard the church really sing again! I cannot tell you how good it was for my soul. I definitely teared up as I was able to step back from the mic and just listen to our church engage and sing out with all that they have. This is what the Lord has intended for us. To sing, raise our hands, lift our gaze, and raise a mighty song of praise. One of my prayers is that you are moved in this same way.
My encouragement to our church as we continue to rise from the ashes of the pandemic is to ditch the breakfast casserole, coffee-sipping, couch-sitting, passively-watching worship that we may have grown accustomed to during the last year. Instead, I challenge you to come early and come ready to give all that you have by participating in worship—by singing from your heart, taking serious notes during the sermon, agreeing with the prayers, praying yourself, and being in community with your fellow Christians.
My prayer is that the dry desert of “couch worship” will be replaced with the living streams of the Holy Spirit moving in our midst as we actively worship him with all that we have. Why? Because our God is mighty, awesome, kind, generous, long-suffering, glorious, beautiful, and he loves us! He loves us so much that his Son died for us. Not only that, but his Son rose from the dead for us that we might have a bright and glorious future. When we recognize these things, we can’t just stand there with our hands in our pockets passively listening—we must participate, we must sing—for he is worthy!