In his book, Worship Essentials, Mike Harland (former Director of Worship for Lifeway Christian Resources) explains how many of today’s church members often approach worship from a perspective and attitude that can be unhealthy on an ongoing basis. He writes, “Ever heard someone say something like this to the Pastor? ‘You’ve got to feed me today, Pastor. I had a really hard week and feel pretty empty this morning. I’ll need a great service to get me ready for next week.’ This mindset suggests that Christians should come to church to get something. They bring a set of expectations and, if those aren’t met, leave disappointed and even critical.”
I’m not knocking those who’ve had a tough week. I think all of us feel this way at times. In fact, I’m pretty sure that every Sunday there are those attending worship or watching our livestream who feel this way. The problem comes when this approach to worship becomes the norm. Mike Harland calls this a “Filling Station” worship experience – it’s where you go to get something – it’s about you.
The alternative is an “Altar” worship experience. It’s where you go to give yourself to the Lord – it’s about the glory of God! Altar worship focuses on surrender – surrender of self-will to God’s will. Altar worship is not measured by what we receive, but what we give – our praise, our talents, our money, our time, our attention, our relationships…the list goes on and on. Altar worship is the essence of Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”
I challenge you to “fill up” on God’s Word by reading it throughout the week. “Fill up” by listening to music that praises and honors God. “Fill up” by spending time in prayer and listening as the Holy Spirit gives direction, guidance, and encouragement in your daily walk with Jesus. Come to worship already “full” and then you will be ready to join with the body of Christ and pour yourself out in thanksgiving and praise to our awesome God in “Altar” worship.