This happened at a church in North Carolina. I won’t mention the name of the church. Just google NC church and cerebral palsy, and you will find all of the details if you have some curiosity. It was Easter Sunday, and a 12-year-old boy with cerebral palsy and his mother were in the auditorium for the service. Judging by the web site of the church, I assume that this church isn’t one of those stuffy churches, but one meant for the young and enthusiastic with an exciting worship service. After the opening part of the service, according to the mother, the boy said “Amen” in his own way. A church volunteer came over and took them to the foyer, because the boy was being a distraction. I assume there was some sort of big screen in the foyer so that they could watch the rest of the service. Needless to say, the mother was not left with a good feeling. Later, she contacted the church and offered to start a ministry for the disabled, but the church’s response was that THEY FOCUS ON WORSHIP NOT MINISTRIES. Now, to be fair, the church later said to the news media, that everything that they do is ministry and that they focus on worship and children’s ministries. They partner with others to do other ministries which gives me the impression that they know to just what ministry to refer a disabled person. They are also seeking training for their staff to deal with people with special needs.
There are so many things wrong in that incident. However, I want to key in on one thought. “THEY FOCUS ON WORSHIP NOT MINISTRIES.” Granted they corrected that quote later, but there is a lot in that sentence that reflects the state of many churches and many believers. Many people go to church for the experience of worship but not to really worship. I am not trying to criticize a particular style of worship. I am talking about people who go to church to “enjoy” the service. I have heard it described as a “concert going” mentality. People want to experience church with a show that gives them the same emotional cartharsis as a concert. They want to experience the worship music, the sights, the sounds, the collective movement of the audience, and the feeling that accompanies all of this. However, this is not worship.
According to Romans 12, the logical response to all that God has done to save us is worship, but not the type of worship that we may experience on Sunday, though what we do on Sunday should flow out of it. The type of worship that we should all live out is the living sacrifice of all we are for the glory of God. If you take time to read Romans 12, you will see that the result of our worship before God affects all the rest of life. Our lives are transformed and worldliness disappears. We see ourselves for who we are in relation to others. We take our place in the body of Christ and use our spiritual gifts to MINISTER to others. Our love becomes genuine.
When some believers focus on worship and not ministry, then they are engaging in a poor substitute for worship. In my opinion, they are not worshipping at all. Rather, they are just engaging in an activity that makes them feel good.
Real worship begins with laying our lives before God and yielding to Him. After we do that, we have His heart. We are able to minister to one another in the body of Christ and to “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) in our church and in society. We will not make the terrible mistake of asking Jesus to wait in the foyer while we ‘worship’ in the auditorium.