Why Do We Struggle With the Great Commission? - Part 1

Jesus came near and said to them, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching the to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age. - Matthew 28:18-20

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Many of us have probably heard those verses read or maybe we have heard someone preach or teach on that Scripture. Its' called the Great Commission, but as Dallas Willard once put it, The Great Omission. As the people of God we will do all sorts of things for the glory of Jesus except the one thing that Jesus told us to do before ascending to the Father...MAKE DISCIPLES

So why don't we do it? Why do so many struggle with actually following the teachings of Jesus with this assignment? 

We Don't Know What It Is

I read a sobering article sharing some of the research recently released by the Barna Group that stated 51% of churchgoers don't know of the Great Commission. OVER HALF!!!

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Of the rest, the majority recognized the phrase but couldn't identify it. There was an interesting graph revealing some of the data broken down by age groups that I found fascinating as well. I would encourage you to read the article if you get a chance. 

This is a sad and convicting indictment on the church in America. I would encourage you to not immediately point fingers at someone else or blame an obscure "generation." Instead let this truth first drive you to your knees in prayer. 

My concern is not in the people who don't even know what the Great Commission is, but in the ones who know it and yet do nothing about it. 

It Will Just Happen

For some reason, we think that obedience to the Great Commission will just happen. We think that if we just live our lives then disciples will be made accidentally. We may even be willing or interested in sharing the Gospel with someone but the perfect scenario and opening must fall into our laps. 

Anything that we love passionately we will pursue intentionally. 

Intentionality is so important. The Greek literally reads in Matthew 28 "As you are going." As you are going about your everyday life make disciples. This won't happen by accident. You must intentionally build your life around this pursuit. 

My hope is this can be a primer for discussion with your small group, family, or reflection time between you and Jesus.

Please don't see this as a guilt trip. I have no interest in making you feel guilty. Guilt as a motivation might last a couple of days or a week at the most. 

Instead let it drive you to Jesus all the more. Let your love for him grow deep and it will push you out.

Worship Should Be...Part 1

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, my pastor Jody has encouraged me to share more of my thoughts regarding worship and because of that I'm trying to be a little more intentional in sharing some thoughts in this space. 

Over the next however many weeks I want to break down a few defining points of what worship should be. These points come from a tremendous resource called The Worship Sourcebook. I recommend it as a great resource even for contemporary worship leaders. I'm using some of their points that they put at the beginning to help give form to understanding worship. 

I'm looking specifically at our corporate gathering and not so much on the personal aspect of worship in our homes as families and individuals. With that said...

First is that Christian Worship Should Be BIBLICAL

I heard a story of how coach John Wooden would begin each year teaching how to properly put on socks and shoes. It is in something as simple and basic as putting on shoes or declaring that worship should be biblical that sets the trajectory for the rest of the discussion and understanding of worship. 

 Photo by  James Motter  on  Unsplash

Photo by James Motter on Unsplash

It is precisely this "simple" truth that when lost can bring down everything. There are many places in the Bible that when worship goes bad, everything goes bad. 

The Scriptures is where we grow in our knowledge of God and his character and of the world's redemption in Christ. Therefore, the Scripture should be present in our worship gatherings. 

With the Bible being the foundation, we should seek to joyfully follow the commands regarding worship and intentionally avoid the practices that the Bible calls false or improper worship. This is why I'm bothered when people say they don't sing or show any expression during a gathering. I especially hear that from men. What is funny is that those same men do not approach the shank on the golf course or the blowout loss of their favorite team with a lack of emotion (I'm trying to avoid jumping on a soapbox that will lengthen this post). 

It is so important for us to know the Bible and what it says regarding worship. It is important that our songs and sermons our filled with Scripture. There is a foundation to what we do on Sunday mornings and it is not our preferences. My encouragement and challenge my CUMC family is to examine the songs that we sing on a Sunday to make sure they line up with Scripture. Don't mindlessly go through the motions on a Sunday morning. 

For worship leaders, I cannot stress enough your need to crave the Scriptures. Drink deep in the waters of the Word. Let the Scriptures help structure the services you plan. 

This post is meant to just be a conversation starter. So leave a comment, share with friends, spend time this week examining some passages regarding worship. Perhaps this coming Sunday practice some of what you read and sing out, lift your hands, bow down, or maybe even shout to God in a voice of triumph

Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16

I Want More For You Than Just Singing

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I'm Hoping for More Than Just Singing

The title may be a little bit confusing considering my position as a worship leader. I read so many things that have to do with people singing at church and trust me, I believe that is SO IMPORTANT!

All I am trying to say is that the congregation singing is NOT my number one priority as I prepare and lead on a Sunday morning. 

It is important that we sing. God specifically commands us to sing over 50 times in the Bible. So I'm not trying to downplay it right now. 

But singing is not the end goal. 

Here Are the Things I'm Praying For Us Each Week:

Engage God in Community

I'm praying for you to engage with God in community when we gather. Yes I want you to engage with the Lord personally but we have lost the "US"ness of the worship gathering in our society. Growing up I heard this prayer often "God bring revival and let it begin in me." What if we start praying for God to let it begin in US? 

Even Moses understood this in Exodus when God was done with the people of Israel. God was willing to bless Moses and be with him specifically, but Moses begs "If you don't go with US don't send us away."

 Photo by  David Beale  on  Unsplash

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

Formation Over Time

As I pray through and choose songs for a worship gathering (especially in my local church context) I'm thinking about our formation as a faith family over time. 

I'm praying that Sunday morning is not the only time you are engaging with God or even thinking about him. I'm hoping you are singing throughout the week. I'm hoping that we have pointed to Jesus in such a way that you are driven to the Scriptures everyday.

When I face struggles, temptations, trials I usually have Scripture and Songs pop into my head almost immediately. 

Sing today what you want your church to believe in five years. - Bill Johnson

Singing is foundational in our formation! God designed it that way. That's why it is so important to sing songs on Sunday grounded and saturated in Scripture (another post for another day).

I believe it is crucial for us to sing songs even when we don't "feel like it." I believe it is important to press into the tension of singing "I Surrender All" at the same time knowing there are areas that you probably haven't surrendered to God.

I am praying through and choosing songs that will prayerfully help you on Monday and not just excite you on Sunday. 

My encouragement to any worship leader is to not think about what is popular right now and the newest song that was released. My encouragement is to consider the people you lead. Pray daily for them. Seek the Lord and listen to him about what songs you need to sing. Your job is to pastor people not just sing songs. 

My encouragement to those who are not on stage leading on a Sunday morning. Sing! Sing with joy! Sing with Thankfulness! Sing with everything you have on Sunday morning! But more than anything set your attention and affections on Jesus. Come wanting to hear from God. Want more than just good music and good sermons on a Sunday for your life. I hope for those at Chapin UMC you think a lot more about Jesus because of what/how we lead each week on stage. 

Maybe It's Not ALL the Worship Leader's Fault

I read this over a year ago and it still stirs my soul each time I come back to it. 

“Boredom is so extreme in our day that people feel they are dying. Boredom makes people feel as if their central nervous system is winding down and shutting off. People will pay any amount of money to relieve boredom for the same reason that they will pay any amount of money for a pacemaker. 
People want singing that excites and develops, special music that impresses, sermons that warm the heart, testimonies that make them cry and miracles that make their skin tingle. 
Worship as entertainment, defined as the ritual excitement of the central nervous system to temporarily relieve boredom, is a shortcut to the believer’s soul-deep satisfaction of serving God through vertically oriented worship. Entertainment is passive is an effect wrought upon the participant by the “worship leaders.” Worship is active and requires effort expended by a thankful congregation of believers on behalf of a holy and merciful God, initiated and led by the Holy Spirit. 
If we entertain people, our church will grow. If we lead in worship, our church may shrink until it is composed of a group of people who want to worship. Then the church has a chance to grow based on the precedent of worship. The church that worships will have many visitors who never come back, and few who cannot stay away” (The Art of Pastoring by David Hansen).

I am more and more convinced that our issues aren't hymns or choruses, new songs or old song, the amount of songs, the volume of songs, etc when it come to worship. We have a leadership issue.

 Photo by  Niklas Hamann  on  Unsplash

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

That leadership issue starts with pastors, not the worship leaders. 

I am saddened and bothered by the blog posts out there about why no one sings anymore or worship leaders just want to be rock stars or this is how worship is supposed to be  (this list could go on). 

I'm just as bothered by the fact that most worship leaders are trained by Youtube watching highly produced events in arenas believing that is the ultimate achievement of worship leader success. 

Our culture highlights the stage and pays little to no attention to the prayer closet or the practice room. 

No one looks at the house and thinks about the foundation. 

So after a number of conversations with my pastor and his encouragement that I start sharing some of my thoughts, I, with fear and trembling, begin this road of making some of my thoughts public. 

I make no promises about post frequency. I am not out to build a platform. To be honest I have never had a problem saying this stuff in a conversation with someone but I avoided writing blogs and social media because that is a world of drama (especially with Christians) that I just didn't want to deal with. 

What I really hope to do is not just be another voice to state the problems but help generate some conversations that hopefully points to possible solutions.