I have a CD in my music collection, “Souled Out,” by gospel artist Hezekiah Walker. My generation would have spelled it, “Sold Out,” but Pastor Walker and his choir are communicating that they are so inspired by their relationship with Jesus, they have completely surrendered to him without any reservations.
They sing this song with such passion that you can't listen without being moved. The song reminds me of something my homiletics professor, Dr. Isaac Rufus Clarke, used to say:
“There are three types of problems that people face on Sunday morning, and your sermons must address all three,” he said. “One problem is that some people are simply not converted, so you need to preach a sermon that leads to conversion.
“The second problem is, sometimes people just don’t know what to do. So in this case, you have to give them information to solve the problem.”
The third problem, Dr. Clarke said, is that sometimes people are converted and they know what to do, “but they simply lack motivation.”
I believe that many our churches are filled with unmotivated people. We give them information, but we don’t light any fires to inspire them. Then we wonder why exciting things don’t happen.
Our people are so challenged by life’s adversities, troubled family life, job losses, dead marriages, indebtedness, and drains on their time, energy and resources, they show up at church on Sunday just begging for inspiration. Those who are responsible for worship need to take a second and maybe a third look to see how much energy, excitement, and – yes, passion – is generated by our worship. There should be a sense of awe, wonderment and holy trembling that happens in our choir lofts, pulpits, pews, and even in the narthex. This holy awe should so permeate the people that they don’t leave the building the same way they came.
In his book, “Nextchurch.Now: Creating New Faith Communities,” author Craig Kennet Miller says worship should be a memorable experience. He believes we should aim for people to experience transformation as the result of entering our sanctuaries and worship centers. I recommend Miller’s book, especially the chapter, “Experienced-Based Worship.” I believe worship experience is more important today than at any other time in church history. We must give detailed attention to worship; no longer can we afford to let it become a routine event. Ask yourself: “If we were starting our church today in response to Jesus’ commandment to go and make disciples, would our worship be the same as it is now?”
Also ask yourself: “Would anyone be excited about coming to our worship?”
Worship today must elicit passion, if we expect people to return Sunday after Sunday. Holston United Methodist Christians, where is our passion?
(By the way I just love the ninth track on Hezekiah’s CD, “You’re All I Need”!)