Worship Is A Weakness?

Recently Relevant Magazine interviewed Pastor Rick Warren about Covid-19 and the church. In the interview Warren said that the pandemic has revealed a big problem in the church...we focus too much on worship! Christian Post reports, “Many churches across the U.S. are scrambling in the wake of COVID-19 because they’ve focused solely on worship instead of other aspects of ministry, Pastor Rick Warren of the California-based Saddleback Church has said. “COVID revealed a fundamental weakness in the Church,” the pastor recently told Relevant magazine in an interview. “Most churches only have one purpose: worship. And if you take worship away, you’ve got nothing. They’re in a hurry to get back to worship because that’s all they’ve got.”

Isn’t that what we are supposed to have, worship? Isn’t this what makes the church the church? What more is Rick looking for? He explains, “But the 20,000-member Saddleback Church is built not on one purpose, but on five,” Warren explained. “You take one circle out, we’ve still got four other circles. We’ve got ministry going on. We’ve got mission going on. We’ve got fellowship going on. We’ve got discipleship going on. Those all stand on their own.”

I understand where Rick Warren is coming from. I believe he is trying to say there is more to church than just Sunday morning worship. But he is still way off on his assessment. Worship is the main focus of the church! Not only is it the main focus of the church, it is the main purpose of every follower of God!  “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.” (Psalm 86:9) “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:23-24) “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) “For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) In the Westminster Catechism it tells us, “Question: 1. What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

  The issue is not that we only focus on worship as Rick Warren put it. The issue is our current view of worship. What we think of worship is a watered down, unbiblical, self-centered, compartmental, and narrow view. The common view of worship is to limit it to a day and place. This is the way Pastor Warren is framing his argument. That worship is only for Sunday mornings. Worship is only singing in church. Worship happens in the church building. We have equated worship to being simply a song(s), at a certain place, at a certain time.

Yet looking at those passages I just listed, worship is not so limited or so “focused”. Worship is more than something that happens on Sunday mornings. The bible teaches us that we are to worship God in everything we do. That worship extends into everything we do in our lives. Instead of compartmentalizing his church into these “circles”, Rick Warren should be teaching that we worship God in all of these things. We worship God through our missions work, our ministry, our discipleship, our fellowship, our secular work, as a son/daughter, as a husband/wife, through our home, through our thoughts, with our money and with our time. In short...with everything! And if this is so, how could worship ever be considered a weakness?

In all aspects of my life, I should conduct myself in a manner that glorifies God. Take Colossians 3:23 for instance. The verse says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” So the bible is teaching us that whenever we do any work, if we function in a manner that honors God we are worshiping Him. Or look at Romans 12:1 that I referenced earlier. God is teaching us in this verse that when we live in a manner that sacrifices for God we are living in a way that worships God.

Rick Warren has it all backwards. Rick Warren has it too simplistic. Our focus should be on worship. He has it all wrong in stating that we shouldn’t. If we cease to worship, we cease to be the church. It is how we conduct worship that is all wrong. It is not that the church focuses only on worship. It's that we limit worship to just church. Worship should not only be our focus but the reason for our existence. We were made to worship. If we cease to worship God, then we will worship something else. And can we really be the church if it is anything else but God?

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