Those participating in worship (and those who are not?)

Written by Joel on May 14th, 2009

emptystageThis past Sunday, the pastor at my internship church prayed with the staff prior to worship. At one point in the prayer he said

…Lord, be with all those participating in worship today and all those who come to worship.

Who are the ones participating in worship? Are there people present who are not participating in worship? What does it mean to come to worship but not participate?

To go a bit easy on the pastor, it was an improvised prayer, and I don’t believe he was attempting to imply a worship theology here.

However, I believe this is indicative of how modern American Christians perceive worship. That it is something done for them or to them. Or worse yet, that the congregation is somehow the audience of the worship.

Isn’t God the audience of our worship? Aren’t we all the actors who recall, re-live, and retell our salvation history? Just because you sit in the congregation does not mean that you do not play a part, or that you are not a worshiper. Those “up front” are not the sole worshipers in a congregation.

It is very easy to lose sight of this when a church has a marvelous choir which performs several pieces of special music on a Sunday morning; Or the architecture places the emphasis on the “front” of the worship space; Or when the congregation is given minimal responsibilities in the liturgy.

Worship leaders and the rest of the worshiping community need to understand the totality of worship. It is a community event. It is not a performance or a concert or a motivational speech. The participants in worship are not only those up front, but the entire Body of the faithfull in the pew. It is not passive; worship is not a spectator sport!


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. keith says:

    I like your blog more and more with each post I read! :)

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