By Efrem Smith, Youth Pastor, Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, Tipp City, Ohio

Summary: The job of the leaders is to equip the saints, to fuel the saints into a lifestyle of worship that would in turn trigger change in the world.

Big events, small results

Worship is more than just going to church. Worship must go beyond a day of the week. Worship must be a lifestyle. If we understand the biblical context or the radical meaning of worship, we can live a legacy for God. Most of us don’t see ourselves as ones who radically impact the world. Instead of a lifestyle of worship, we limit ourselves to big events and revivals. And that is why, although we have many churches, we still have many problems. We have big events, but small results.

Tourists are often warned of the dangers of North Omaha. Landmarks are identified as places where someone was once shot, crack houses, gang hangouts, suicide spots, etc. Strangely though, in this very bad part of town, is a church on every street. More than 50% of all churches in Omaha are in this neighborhood. How could there be so many problems in a place with so many churches?

Media gives us a glimpse of many big events: Promise Keepers--men of different color, culture, and careers come together to refuel and recommit--great speakers and great music. But at the end, it’s back to the same old stuff. Women of Faith is another big event where women of different races and backgrounds come together and fill up convention centers all over the country. Big event, but then it’s back to the same old lifestyle. Youth Workers National Convention is yet another--more than 5,000 youth pastors and youth workers from all over the country. And then it is over. Big events, small results.

We put so much into big events that we’ve limited the ability to be used by God to change the world. We need to get beyond big events, many revivals, many conventions and many churches. We need to go beyond to a lifestyle of worship that equips us to change the world.

Beyond the hurdles

It’s so hard to develop a lifestyle of worship and in turn change the world because we have obstacles within the Christian community. We’re trying to run to the finish line or even go beyond the track that we’re on, but there are some hurdles. Many of us run marathons.

Many of us run sprints. And only a few can handle the hurdles on the track. What are the hurdles? Maybe if you knew what the hurdles were, you’d know how to get over them.

One of the hurdles is self-focus. Even when we get people of different races and denominations together, we really don’t live together and hang out together. We’re still focused on us. So I sit in church waiting to get my blessing and my healing, waiting to hear the song that makes me feel good, and for the preacher to preach the way I like it. I came to church for me because I had a bad week and I need something from God. That’s how we market the church. Come to church and get your healing. Come to the convention and you’ll get healed, you’ll be blessed, you’ll be prosperous. It’s all about you. It’s not about changing the world, it’s not about us, it’s not about the community, it’s about you. To really go beyond and see what true worship is, we must overcome and go beyond the self-centered church!

Another hurdle that keeps us from really understanding worship and making an impact in the world is the celebrity-pastor syndrome. You see it on TV all the time. Most of the church shows on TV are not about the church or about the community. They’re about the celebrity- pastor. The Reverend So-and-So ministry. The Reverend So-and-So crusade. Do you know that Reverend So-and-So is selling his audiotapes for $5.00 each? Instead of living a legacy, we pay for a legacy by sending our money to the celebrity-pastor. We’re trying to live a legacy through the pastor. Instead of being Christ-centered, we are pastor-centered.

A televangelist said, If you want to be blessed, you need a man of God in your life. You need to find a man of God and do what the man of God says. Give the man of God your money and you better love the man of God and you better pray for the man of God. We don’t need to look to a celebrity pastor. We need to commit to the radical Jesus Christ and make an impact in the world! That’s what we need to do! I am so glad for pastors who do not stand in pinstriped suits with a little gold tooth and tell us that if we give them money, they’ll give us a healing handkerchief. I’m so glad for pastors who are about Jesus and not about themselves!

But even when the pastor is Christ-centered, there may be a problem. The problem may be with us. Some of us have gotten leadership-centered and not Christ-centered. Oh, Pastor, if you would just talk to me. Oh, Pastor, if you would just make me feel good. Oh, Pastor, do you have fifteen minutes? We want the Pastor instead of the real God who can change our life. We live in this fantasy legacy through leadership instead of getting to know the radical Jesus Christ. Don’t try to make an impact on leadership! Make your own impact in the world. The job of the leaders is to equip the saints, to fuel the saints into a lifestyle of worship that would in turn trigger change in the world.

When our focus is on ourselves or on leadership, we become benchwarmers and not participants. We sit in passive faith and don’t go anywhere. We just cheer on the ministers and the evangelists and we don’t do anything. We need a new vision for worship that changes the world. We need to get beyond spectator faith.

Beyond spectator faith

We need to get beyond bench warmer faith. We need to get out of the crowd and into the action. Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ?be holy, because I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:13-16). Prepare your minds for action because you’re supposed to be active! We are all supposed to be participants. We all get to play. Nobody sits on the bench. Nobody stands on the sidelines. This is exciting! We all get to participate and bring the radical Jesus Christ to the lost, to the poor, to those that are hurting and to those who can’t find their way. We all get to start, we all get to score, we all get to catch and throw and pass.

You need to be prepared to participate. If you’re not prepared, you can’t play. If you’re not ready, you can’t go in. You’ve got to be prepared for action. Set your hope fully on the grace given to you. You’ve got to give your all. Everything that’s in you has got to be focused on your purpose, your identity in Christ and how you can change the world. Know that you’re special, that you’re valuable, that you are created to make a difference.

Don’t let worship be a one-day-a-week thing. Go beyond weekend worship, beyond prayer service, beyond the big event, beyond the service. Don’t just put God in just one area of your life. Be holy in all things. Let God have a place in every area of your life. This will take you beyond spectator faith to being a participant in the radical activity of God.

The only way this can happen is for you to develop a lifestyle of worship. When you take a walk and look up at the blue sky, you will be reminded of how awesome the Creator is. Worship will be a moment-to-moment, exciting event because you know the real Jesus Christ and what He has done for you! Don’t limit worship to the Sabbath. Don’t gauge your spirituality on your church attendance. Now, I’m not saying that you should stay home and not go to church. I’m saying go beyond, go beyond, go beyond.

Beyond weekend Worship

Good advice to basketball players is If you don’t start feeling like it’s game day until game day, you’ll never win. Every basketball practice must be treated as if it were the real game--with the clock, the fans, the cheerleaders, the screaming. Practice under that pressure so when game day comes, it is no big deal. The game just becomes something we do all of the time.

You can’t just wait for game day! You can’t just wait to worship God until you get to church. It’s not a stage--Lights! Camera! Action! Now we worship God! That’s why some of us are fake. So we put on a mask in church, act all Christian-like, worship God, and shout Hallelujah! But then we get in our cars and say bleep, bleep, bleep (things you wouldn’t dare say in church). Worship has sadly become a two-hour thing instead of a lifestyle.

If worship were a lifestyle, you would talk the same everywhere you went. If worship were a lifestyle, you’d live the same anywhere you were. We must go beyond our limitations of what true worship is. A lifestyle of worship will give us the fuel to live a legacy. When you are moment to moment worshiping God, you can make a difference in the world, moment to moment.

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July–September, 1999

Lifestyle