By Tom Inglish
If I asked you to identify the heartbeat of the church, how would you respond?
Evangelism? Surely, that is a critical element, signified by Jesus' command to "go and make disciples of all nations," (Matthew 28:19).
Healing is important. So is deliverance. Warfare and effectual prayer are likewise fundamental.
But all of these are tributaries, flowing from the river of worship. Yes, worship. It is probably the most misunderstood and ineffectively practiced element specified in Scripture. When the church finds this pearl of great price, all heaven will be released on the earth.
Worship is the test of the believer's authenticity.
God has not called us to be an army of workers who worship Him, but an army of worshippers who work for Him.
If all we can show the world is how hard we work for God, they will be little impressed. If we can show them how much we love Him, they will run to Him. Christians are the recipients of God's love to the world according to John 3:16. Our minimum response to this love should be worship so that the world will find Him irresistible also. Worship is simply our response to His love.
Without worship, Christianity is invalid. It's invalid because the distinguishing reality of Christianity is intimacy of relationship. If worship is not deeply personal, passionately intimate, and obsessively continuous then it is not true worship but only a phony substitute that will only superficially effect our churches.
Why has God called us to worship? You might think it is to express our love for God. That's not it; He already knows how much we love Him. God has commanded us to worship Him so He can change us...change us one little bit at a time, as specified in II Corinthians 3:17-18:
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
This is where we will find liberty as the Holy Spirit changes us from one degree of glory to another at the rate of change we as individuals are ready to receive. One of the greatest needs in the Body of Christ today is for all of us to allow God to transform us at His pace – and not at our own. This is true freedom, but it is costly. It requires personal prayer, worship, and study of God's Word.
The need worldwide revival is not due to a lack of Christians, but a shortage of Christ-likeness. When the church begins to become Christ-like, the world will be quickly swept by the presence and power of God – that's evangelism.
Worship is the place of God's presence (Psalm 22:3), and also the place of revival. This revival takes place at either an individual basis or at the corporate level. Why then don't most churches experience revival when they spend so much time in what they think is worship? Perhaps it is because we have equated music with worship, or because revival comes at too high a price
Worship has little to do with the way we sing, dance, or play musical instruments. It is not merely a 20-minute warm-up, tilling the soil of our hearts for the planting of the seed by the preacher. What then constitutes worship? Is it the same as praise, making the two synonymous for each other?
Praise is a separate topic. It is based on our knowledge of God. We won't elaborate on praise here, except to differentiate it from worship.
Worship is our response to God, meaning our obedience. We don't worship Him by what we sing, but rather by how we live – our lifestyle. Worship is what results from the continual process of change, growing more and more like Jesus as we spend time in God's Word, pray, and fellowship with our lord. Worship is always the result of personal activity or contact with God. It doesn't happen automatically because we call ourselves "Christian." It comes through being Christ-minded and Christ-lifestyle oriented.
If worship were something we do only on Sundays, Christianity would be easy. But because worship is our response to personal and intimate contact with God, it is one of the most challenging and disputed subjects in the end-time church. Upheavals in the spirit realm grow in intensity and frequency. The devil works frantically to douse worship and draw worshippers away from God.
As the time of the Lord draws near, congregations that seek true intimacy with God will experience great manifestations of His holy presence and power. The outbreak of revival will result in the addition of multiplied thousands to local churches. An inseparable bond will form between worship and evangelism. The growth will be explosive!
Sadly, spiritual hunger and thirst will plague churches that fail to worship God in spirit and in truth, and therefore haven't prioritized the salvation of souls. These churches will empty overnight.
A forerunner to this end-time revival will be a massive outpouring of repentance. God must deal with the church before He deals with the world. This will cause Christians to reach out to one another as never before.
The secret of the church's public ministry to the world is private devotion to God. The strength of any local church is the worship lifestyle of its members. The act of worship certainly draws God into our presence, but only a well-developed lifestyle of worship keeps Him there.
What would it be like if you played basketball, soccer, or some other physically demanding sport one day a week – and did nothing the rest of the week to practice or stay in shape for that sport? How well would you play on game day? That is what happens when we try to worship God on Sunday without developing a worship lifestyle Monday through Saturday.
Church is wonderful, but the rubber meets the road spiritually in our homes. Everything starts from a one-on-one encounter with God, where we as individuals bring His holy presence through prayer, study of God's Word, and obedience. This is a lifestyle of worship. If Christianity doesn't work in the home, it won't work in the church. It must start in the home, proceed to the local church, and then spread throughout the world.
Here lies the greatest challenge facing church leadership in the end times. God has confidence in the shepherds of this generation to inspire legitimate lifestyles of worship. May we all grow more like Jesus day by day.
About the Author:
Born in Scotland but having found the Lord while working for an American company in South Africa, Tom Inglis became a renowned worship leader who now teaches development of worship life-styles through his ministry – Psalmody International. He has recorded We Are One, produced by Hosanna!Music, available at retail music stores or by contacting Psalmody International.
P.O. Box 27191
San Diego, CA 92198
– Terry Duschinski
Copyright 1999, Terry Duschinski