This is a long post!
“Sir,” the woman said,“Where would you get that life-giving water. It was our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well; he and his children and his flocks all drank from it.” Jesus answered: “Those who drink this water will get thirsty again,but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.” “I see you are a prophet, sir,” the woman said.“My Samaritan ancestors worshiped God on this mountain, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where we should worship God.” Jesus said to her, “The time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God’s Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants. God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is.”(John 4:24)
Jesus engaged the Samaritan women about worship. The woman fixated on externals: a place, a well and a mountain.
In my opinion the Western church has a similar fixation: buildings, time, liturgy, professional clergy, proper attire, convenience, musical expression, Bible version, confessional standards, denominational titles and doctrinal statements … all of which miss the mark of “true worship“.
The church of Acts provides the essential of worship (today, most would vote for the preaching of the Word). “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power.” (Acts 1:8) “The followers (120) of Jesus were all together in one place on Pentecost. All at once there was a sound from heaven like a powerful wind. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:1-4) Did you catch it? We’re not given a full picture. However, there’s no doubt: the assembled followers were waiting FOR and ON the promised, power-full Spirit! In other words, without the presence and power of the Spirit worship is impossible … period!
It was the late ’90’s. Many from Immanuel attended an interdenominational worship conference. We returned with one conviction: the Holy Spirit is the commander-in-chief of worship! However, as regards the nuts and bolts … we didn’t have a clue! Our board agreed that I and one board member would meet for prayer prior to worship to wait on the Spirit. We invited anyone from the congregation to meet with us. Most Sunday’s there were at least four present. Gradually, the Spirit revealed to us what He wanted to do. However, there was a problem: ME! After all, had I not been trained in how to do worship? Weekly the Spirit would deal with me. However, I would dismiss his prompting! Gradually and graciously He continued and eventually won! (Note: many of the congregation were ahead of me). After that, our worship was filled with anticipation of the Spirit’s presence and power.
This is important! We would gather every Sunday in the same building and at the same time. The musicians would rehearse the selected songs. I would prepare a message. This did not change. What changed is our attitude. Though we had planned and prepared, the Spirit was ultimately in charge! What He wanted to do on any particular Sunday was THE ESSENTIAL!
Now, without accusation or intimidation I ask you: on any given Sunday IF the Holy Spirit wanted to “blow however HE wills“, would He find anticipatory reception of His presence and power in your church? Practically, would He be required to fit His agenda within the confines of your hourly, (or whatever) planned liturgy? Please, I don’t mean to be derogatory in any way! Yet, Paul said: “Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. Don’t despise what God has revealed“(1 Thessalonians 5:19-20)
At the same conference we attended (early 90’s) a word was given about a congregation ((it was small and unknown at the time) in Sydney, Australia: 1) it would primarily be characterized by the free flow of the Holy Spirit in worship 2) it would produce worship music beyond that which the church has ever experienced 3) it would grow into a mega-church via lost young persons and 4) it’s impact would be world-wide. All of this has happened … and, then some! Below is a video of worship at Hillsong. Notice: 1) the young adults, 2) the quality of the music (words) and 3) the passion of those gathered. This may not be your “cup of tea”. However, remember, the Jewish religious leaders missed Jesus for the same reason!