You poured your heart and soul into your weekend Easter services.
The week before was chaos, with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in full-swing and painstaking preparation for the biggest week of the year. Then comes the Sunday morning service, and you’re worshipping like never before. Your volunteers are putting in 110% on stage and behind the scenes. The pastor’s message is carefully crafted, some say it may be his best yet. It seems like every seat is filled, and every hand is raised. You watch lives be transformed and people respond to the gospel for the first time. Does it get any better than this? The team is tired, yes, but you can’t help feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride.
….so now what? How do we keep worship THIS great all year? Is there a way we can hold onto this motivation and excitement? How do we make EVERY SUNDAY feel like Easter Sunday?
The answer is, you can’t.
Now wait just a minute, I know what you’re thinking:
“If we could just get all our volunteers on board, we could do incredible worship every week!”
“We should choose sermon series that are positive and uplifting all year!”
“All we need is a bigger budget!”
“ Let’s do a visitor drive each month.”
But even if you could meet the demands of these hypotheticals, you’d still miss the fact that there is a misfire in your thinking.
We are addicted to event-driven ministry.
We all love the mountain-top experience: the camp-high, the worship concert, the church-retreat. We love celebrations, we love when the enthusiasm is high, and we love decisive moments that push us, and our people, to say yes to God. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying these huge moments. Heck- who wouldn’t want to be Moses in Exodus 20, receiving the Ten Commandments, or one of the three disciples in Luke 9 that witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration? There’s nothing wrong with loving God and wanting to feel close to him in a memorable experience.
However, as worship leaders, sometimes we long for these experiences so much that we worship the event. We slave over preparation, and we spend all our energy, money, and time trying to recreate this experience for our people. This isn’t new- since the early tent revivals of the 20th century, we’ve been fixed on driving people to a moment of conversion. And while we know conversion is really a Holy-Spirit guided process that walks with people in the valley, we would rather give our people a glorious mountaintop encounter. So what happens when the seats get a little emptier, our people lose enthusiasm, and things “return to normal?” Unfortunately for many, we end up immediately discouraged, but for the wrong reasons.
Instead of asking how to keep our worship “Easter-level” great all year, let’s ask better questions: what does successful ministry look like and what is successful worship look like within that ministry?
We are in desperate need of re-framing our understanding of worship. In Romans 12, Paul reminds us that true worship comes from presenting ourselves as living sacrifices to God. Successful worship
Glorifies God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)
Allows us to draw near to God with the confidence of forgiveness and mercy (Hebrews 4:16)
Dwells richly on God through song, community, and love (Colossians 3:12-17)
Post-Easter is an incredible time to re-evaluate our ministries and dream bigger. Are we guilty of worshipping the mountaintop experience? Is our foundation and theology of worship not only correct but big enough? This year, let’s commit to having an even larger and more pure dream than just fantastic music and a message week in and week out. Let’s ask for God-sized dreams to be realized- where our people are truly changed, our cities are transformed, and God is glorified. If we start with this heart, I believe we will see our ministry making a lasting mark.