The difference between performance and relational is huge. I'm talking about worship. I know to worship God is basically to obey Him as Abraham understood when he said in that mountain experience "the lad and I will go yonder and worship." He was simply correctly saying to obey what God commands is itself worship.
But to worship corporately as a Body is what I'm refering to here. It is what is meant by the writer of that Hebrews passage where it is said "forsake NOT the assembling of yourselves together.." This is the only time that word for "assemble" [it isn't ekklesia] is used in the NT. It is a word that refers to the place of gathering wherever that might be. [They got the word synogogue from it.] This is the only time that.. where the Ekklesia gathers.. is even talked about. They didn't talk much about going to church. They were the Church. It is this Body experience that I am addressing in this post. It can be a performance thing or it can be a relational thing and the difference between the two is, as I said, huge.
An emphasis on performance in our gathered times is the norm. God is the audience. [So to speak] Let's be careful to do what we do right. He's watching. We want Him to be pleased with what we're doing. If He is pleased no doubt He'll bless us.
When you think about it, that really sounds more tribal than Christian. If we appease the gods our grass will grow, the cattle will be fat, our wives will bear children and, generally, things will be on the up and up. But if we fail to worship correctly [or often] drought, barrenness and sickness will come and, boy, will we be in trouble. In fact, let's establish a whole different order of religious leaders to help us worship and do it right. We'll call them witch-doctors. [Or clergy depending on the culture.] They can dress, sound, perform, and just be different than the rest of us so we will get it right. They will even have greater persuasive powers over the gods because they will know all kinds of religious stuff the rest of us regular guys/gals [or laity depending on the culture] don't know. Sound familiar? It's a system. It's performance and it's religion but it's not Christian at all.
Relational worship is experiencing the reality of the presence of the one being worshipped and hearing from Him and each other. It is always a work of His Holy Spirit. We have to know that "worship" is basically, as any good dictionary will tell you, "paying homage." It is to "recognize the worthiness of" or to "regard with reverential respect" or to "express and admiration or devotion to." It is an attitude that is to be reflected in all of life, to be sure. That's why all our living is an expression of worship. But when we gather corporately we are to share that attitude as a whole Body in a relational manner. [And will when His Spirit is at work among the people.] This means we are to be real with each other as we talk, share, sing, and He is to be real to us as we do so.
A whole lot stands out here to me. [Apart from it being a work of the Spirit which is a given,] One thing is that all who choose to do so should participate. All have been gifted to do just that. There is an orderliness about it all to be sure, but, that said, it is not restrictive except where confusion or disrespect would result. Anything done by anyone would have as it's goal, it seems to me, an edifying of the Body and.. a recognition of HIS PRESENCE..right now. It may have many moods like celebration or contemplation or adoration to it, but those things that are done are only valid as tools to experience HIM and each other relationally.
This sounds like a family reunion to me. Maybe that's more what a NT worship service is suppose to reflect. Maybe if we examine a real family reunion and learn to create that environment each Lord's day when we gather, we will be closer to a true biblical worship experience than what we often experience at the present time. In fact, it could be, the use of liturgy, hymns, choruses, choirs, drama, sermons, and a host of other things, are valid, not in and of themselves, but as opportunities for His reality being experienced by all. Even sermons would have as their goal the reality of Christ and His Word being heard and understood relationally. Wouldn't that kind of experience shake up a typical Sunday morning crowd. This would mean the question is NEVER what kind of things are we doing in a worship service but WHY is anything we do being done? The answer to that question is, to me at least, to make Him real to all in that moment. If what I'm saying is correct, much of what is being done in modern Church-life worship is not biblical worship at all. We've got our work cut out for us as worship leaders don't we. And, it may be, the question of each worship experience is not,"how did I do?" but "did we meet and experience Him and others as well?"
I realize I've addressed what the target of worship is in this post and not the instructions for hitting it. That will probably vary from group to group. But I'm wondering if maybe we've forgotten what we're shooting at in worship. [So to speak.]