Sermon:  Key Elements in Worship

(3 of 8 in "Rubber Meets the Road" which is a follow up of "Your Kingdom Come Series")

Summary:  Congregational worship is a collective response to God for his ongoing acts 
in a participatory encounter than can transform us and serve as a witness to him as we 
rehearse our commit to give him the very best.

Know:  Worship is an expression to God who is worthy of the very best, therefore we need 
to give him the very best.

Feel:  The desire for excellence in worship

Do:  After considering the broad picture of what worship is, evaluate the congregational 
quality of worship and what can be done to improve the worship experience.  

Text:  John 4:20-24

Scripture Reading:  Heb 13:15-16

1.  What is worship?
	a.  Lots of definitions and descriptions
	b.  My definition has changed over the years, I have grown
	c.  The child that prayed - "Dear God, it sure was a good show at worship 
	      today and we had fun.  I sure wish you could have been there."
	d.  Maybe there have been times you have felt something missing to.
2.  One of the difficulties in studying worship - Bible never "defines" it
	a.  Worship a major part of what we do as Christians
	b.  Why doesn't the Bible define it? Part of the danger is that we 
	     undermine the mystery of God in worship through overanalysis
3.  There are some things you lose out on if you overanalyze them
	a.  Try to analyze the love of a woman
		- Can talk about brain waves, hormones, psychology, etc.
		- You lose the heart of what it is all about
	b.  Instead, you use poetry, stories, music, art, songs etc., to express the 
	     mysterious reality of this love
		- When you do it, you want to do it justice, do it well
	c.  Same way with worship
		- As far back as the Old Testament, God instructed skilled 
		   craftsmen and artists to craft sanctuary, skilled musicians to write 
		   music, etc.
		- Something you participate in, something you experience
		- Not something you merely analyze and reduce to a formula 
	d.  The Bible describes and demonstrates worship, but doesn't define it
		- Worship is dynamic, we meet God in a particular way
		- Not always the same, depending on where we are in our walk
4.  Look this morning at the broad picture of worship
	a.  Could easily spend an entire series on worship
	b.  Will look at the larger elements of congregational worship instead

I.  God
	A.  God should be the center of our worship
		1.  Our worship is not centered on a building, ritual, etc.
		2.  Our worship is centered on our God
	B.  Worship is not about form, but about content
		1.  Many Psalms narrate God's great acts and his character
			a.  God created the world Ps 24; he created me - Ps 139
			b.  God makes a way through the sea for his people - Ps 78
			c.  God redeems his people with outstretched arm - Ps 136
		2.  (John 4:20-24) - In Spirit and in Truth
			a.  It is not about the place or other physical things
			b.  True worship is authentic worship in the true temple - US
			c.  Does not want opposite - Worship that is a lie
				- Mt 15:1-9 - Heart far from God - evidence by the 
				  way they treated others
				- Mt 23 - Pharisees worship a lie - to be seen of men, 
				  was hypocritical
		3.  God is the "living God" who acts on our behalf
			a.  He sees the poor, oppressed, downcast
			b.  He acts on their behalf
			c.  He brings down nations and exalts the humble
			d.  Our God is not a lifeless idol
		4.  Since God has been active, we worship him
			a.  We have heard of the good news of salvation
			b.  Jesus came to us, acted on our behalf
			c.  Based on this news, we worship God
	C.  How many of you read the newspaper or watch the news
		1.  What if it were the exact same news story every time?
			a.  The only thing that changes is the date
			b.  Also the newscaster changes, but it is the same news
			c.  What would be your attitude toward it?  Boring real fast.
			d.  There is much more going on than the same old news.
		2.  Churches with most vibrant worship recognize this
			a.  God is the living God, he still acts in our lives today
			b.  The celebrate the past events of God, as a foundation
			c.  Since God acted in the past, we are in his presence now
			d.  Because of this, God is active in our lives
		3.  As a result - They narrate & celebrate what God is doing now
			a.  Whether it is what is going on in a ministry
			b.  Whether it is what God did in someone's life there
			c.  Whether it is what God has done in the nation
			d.  They narrate it, praise God and celebrate it
		4.  I have heard some of your stories
			a.  God has done things in your life
			b.  It is a cause to celebrate and praise God
	D.  Worship is a rehearsal of what God has done
		1.  It includes both then and now
			a.  We have been ministering all week by the power of God
			b.  Come together to share, encourage, and praise God
		2.  Worship is a focal point where it all comes together each week
			a.  We rehearse what God has done in the distant past, 
			     which gives us our foundation
			b.  We rehearse what God has been doing with us 
			c.  We respond in worship
		3.  We worship a living, active God - Our worship should be fresh
			a.  God didn't JUST act long ago
			b.  He is still working on and through us…
		4.  By faith, we EXPECT God to use us and work through us…

II.  Participation
	A.  Worship is experiential
		1.  We are not spectators, we are participants
		2.  By God's design, we use several of our senses
			a.  We see, hear, smell, touch, and taste in worship
			b.  Senses are what we use to relate to our world and to God
			c.  All of these senses helps us to worship
				- They help to recall what God does
				- They help us to experience what God does
	B.  Several examples
		1.  Passover & Lord's Supper
			a.  (Ex 12:27; 13:8, 14) - Participation in the Passover
				- It is because of what the Lord did for "us"
				- Not just what he did for ancestors
				- 12:8 - The lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs - 
				   creates an "experience" using the senses
				- Passover was not spectator event, but participatory
			b.  Same with Lord's Supper - (1 Cor 10:16)
				- Translation: sharing, fellowship, communion, or 
				-  Lord's supper, like Passover, is a "participation"
				-  We create an "experience" using the senses
		2.  Look at what is all involved
			a. The unleavened bread - the body of Christ
				- It is pure and white
				- Has holes in it, Jesus was pierced for us 
				- Jesus became flesh and identified with us, solidarity
			b. The fruit of the vine - the blood of Christ
				- Jesus is full of life, he gave his life for us
				- Through his death we have life
				- We die to self, and give of ourselves as Jesus did
			c. The family - Fellowship, participation
				- This is not an individual act
				- We come as a family
			d. Lord's Table - Not an alter, sacrificed already complete
				- Altar signifies fasting, sorrow, sacrifice for sin
				- Table comes AFTER the altar
				- Table signifies feasting, fellowship, joy
				- What if:  Table looked like a table, table down on our 
				level, we can to the table rather than watch it from a 
				distance.  Saw this before at another congregation, was 
				hugging going on, joy, singing.  It was more like a table than 
				altar.  If reflected in practice what we believe about the Lord's 
		3.  Other acts of worship that uses our senses
			a.  Giving
				- Expression of thanksgiving to God
				- Not just paying the bills, but worship
				- Some sing songs of thanksgiving to accompany it
			b.  Praying and Singing
				- Expression of our praise, thanksgivings and needs
				- Singing is a response of more than words, but 
				  poetry and music as well.  It is an art, an expression 
				  that cannot be expressed with just words
			c.  Expressions of Lament or Joy
				- Expression of sorrow, complaints, etc. to God
				- Bible speaks of shouting to the Lord - Ps. 100
				- Bible speaks of clapping hands - Ps 47:1
				- David couldn't contain himself and leaped about 
				  before the Lord when the Ark came - 2 Sam 6:14
			d. Emotion is not a bad thing, it is part of our makeup
				- Psalms express the whole range of emotion
				- Not empty, artificial emotionalism, but an heartfelt,
				  authentic response to God
				- God is not displeased with emotion 
				- God expresses emotion - where do you think we get 
				   emotions from anyway?? We are made in his image
		4.  Worship is something we participate in and experience
			a.  Experiential nature of worship focuses attention on God
			b.  It reminds us of what God is doing among us
	C.  ILL - The trip to Eureka Springs
		1.  Enjoyed the Holy Land Tour
			a.  Replicas of many of the places and items
			b.  Included a life sized replica of the Tabernacle
			c.  Created an "experience"
			d.  Helped create deeper appreciation for God
		2.  Not unlike the videos Tom took us through on Wednesday 
		      evenings with Ray Vanderlann
			a.  Next best thing to actually being there
			b.  Creates an "experience"
		3.  Not unlike God instructing Israel to build monuments
			a.  Altars and pillars commemorated what God had done
			b.  Feasts and festivals to commemorate what God had 
			c.  Added some new ones, some not commanded by God
				- Purim, Esth 9:26 - Commorate deliverance in Esther
				- Hannukah, the Feast of Dedication, Jn 10:22-
				   Commemorate rededication of the temple.
				-  Created an "experience" to focus worship on God
	D.  Worship involves participatory experience
		1.  That is why Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper
		2.  This is why we do some of the things that we do
			a.  Use of visuals on the overhead
			b. Circle up to pray at baptisms
			c.  Murals or banners on the wall
		3.  What about monuments, memorial days, etc.?
			a.  Some congregations use these to celebrate what God 
			     has done
			b.  Reminder that God is in their midst
		4.  **Need to remember, we are not the audience, we are the 
		      participates, we are active in worship….

III.  Proclamation 
	A.  Congregational worship is by nature public
	B.  Worship is a visible reflection of our commitment
		1.  Several of the words New Testament Authors used
			a.  Ekklesia - Public assembly - used for the church
			b.  Kerugma - Public proclamation - Used for preaching
			c.  Leitourgia - Public service - Used for worship
			d.  New Testament writers used language that conveyed the 
			     public nature of the church's worship and witness
		2.  Our worship is declaration of allegiance to God over the present 
			a.  We renew our commitment to God in worship
			b.  It is inherently a challenge, especially when the 
			     proclamation does not reflect the reality in our lives
			c.  We don't let worship become a substitute for church
				- Our declaration in worship matches what we live 
				- Worship is a reflection of who we are even when not 
				  in worship
		3.  Key Text:  (Rom 12:1-2)
			a.  Offer selves as living sacrifice as your worship/service
			b.  Your allegiance is completely to God
			c.  What you declare in here is what you live out there
	C.  In this way, worship becomes missional in the way God intended
		1.  A group of seven people studied healthy and vibrant 
		     congregations across the country, and found this in common 
		     about worship
			a.  They don't "use" worship to attract outsiders
			b.  Worship is where they participate in celebration of what 
     			     God is doing and renew their commitment to his mission
		2.  A church in Brooklyn, N.Y. - People flock to the church
			a.  Not because of it's fantastic, upbeat, contemporary music
				- They were a more liturgical church
			b.  Folks there say, "We do not come here because of the 
			     music, but because of the impact the church has in the 
			c.  They took what they said in worship seriously
			d.  Worship and service went hand in hand
	D.  True, authentic worship in Spirit and Truth is inherently missional
		1.  Don't have to artificially make it that way, it is a by product
		2.  Our worship match what we are & aspire to be during the week
		3.  Demonstrates the connection between God and our actions

1.  Worship begins with God, then with our participation and proclamation
2.  God gave the best he could.  Our response is to worship (Invitation)
3.  What about practical considerations?  Consider these questions - 
	What considerations should we give toward visitors that would honor God's mission?
	How can our worship stay fresh?
	How can we ensure worship is participatory and not just a spectator event?
	How effectively do appropriately use the senses in worship?
	How well does the configuration of our worship facilities and equipment reflect our beliefs and values?
	In what way does, or should our worship fit in with God's missional purposes?
	How should our worship be connected with our daily lives?

For discussion in group, if you have trouble getting started:
1.  Sometimes I wish worship would include . . .
2.  The part of our worship experience that annoys me the most is . . .
3.  If I were asked to lead in worship, I would offer to . . . 


Process Guidelines

During the summer season, beginning Sunday evening June 10th, the congregation 
will assemble at the building.  During this gathering we will outline our plan for the Summer.  
This first meeting is an introductory overview.

For the remaining eight weeks we will follow a pattern that works as follows:

Sunday Morning Sermon:  Introduce the topic for the week.

Sunday Evening:  Life Groups meet at the building but in separate rooms: 			
Discuss the topic for the evening
Develop ideas, recommendations and proposals
Tie them to scripture and align them with our goals and objectives.
Guidelines for Life Group discussion as it relates to the Topic 
	1.  What’s the purpose of…(Topic of the week)?
	2.  How should we accomplish this purpose?
	3.  What should we…
		a.  Keep doing?
		b.  Start doing that’s different?
		c.  Stop doing? 

Wednesday Evening:  Congregation meets to:
Hear each Life Group present the ideas, recommendations and proposals they developed 
the previous Sunday evening.
Thoughts will be organized and presented in the form of these questions:
	1.  What did we learn?
	2.  What surprised us?
	3.  What is Important?
	4.  What should we do?

Sunday Morning Bible Study Hour:  Congregation Meets to…
	Process the Topic for the previous week 
	Discussion Centered on three questions:
	1.  What happened?
	2.  What does it mean?
	3.  What will we do with it?