September 07, 2011

Don’t Waste Your Time in Worship – Ramona Heikel

I love Pilgrim Books, the Christian used bookstore in Calgary. One thing I appreciate about it is that it carries books published many years ago, not just the latest trends hot off the press. I like to compare Christian viewpoints of today with those from the 1980’s, or 1950’s, the turn of the twentieth century, or even older. And the frosting on the cake is that the older books—which to me are often the most “meaty”—typically cost around two dollars.

In one visit to Pilgrim Books, a shocking title caught my eye: Don’t Waste Your Time in Worship. This book by James L. Christensen was published in 1978. I’d been more and more frustrated by the worship services I was attending, and always found myself trying to analyze what had changed over the years. But according to this 30-year-old book, not much had changed!

Here are a few of the many inspiring passages that I jotted down:

To worship God meaningfully is a supreme accomplishment. For a finite person to be in communication with the Infinite is not something done on the run. Nor is it a reality when approached flippantly or grudgingly…After 30 years as a Christian minister, I am convinced that many people who attend church do not really worship God at all. They waste their time.
The church today faces a crisis in its life, partially because worship has not been properly understood. Many people, whether they admit it or not, or are conscious of it or not, attend more as spectators of a performance rather than as participants in the worship of God. A choir does our singing; the minister does our praying, Scripture reading, and interpretation.
One may waste his time in church because much so-called worship is…focused upon man instead of God…One publisher recently observed: “For a preacher to be popular, all he has to do is use a lot of humor, tell stories well, and entertain his congregation.”

The reformation distaste for the Roman Catholic Mass, in which there was no preaching and much ceremony, caused a Protestant reaction to an opposite extreme, making the sermon central and eliminating main elements of worship. In some denominations, the church nave has become more of an auditorium than a sanctuary, transforming the altar into a lecture platform. Hence, the pulpit becomes the center of attention and the key to the church’s growth.

We have heard naïve ministers who have meant well say, “We come here to recharge the batteries of our spirit, so we may go forth to serve.” …but this is not the purpose of worship. The purpose of worship is not to build up the morale of the nation or to promote the church’s programs, as one might easily conclude from some preachments…However worthy these motives…God is worshiped for His own glory. Worship is man’s loving response to God’s personal revelation in Jesus Christ. Genuine worship takes place only when God is worshiped for His own sake.

Posted by Ramona
[Photos by Adrian van Leen on Open Photo]


  1. Your title certainly made me want to read the rest of the post! Worship is all about the heart - our heart reaching out to God's.

  2. Excellent!Just this morning I read Ecclesiastes 5: 1 "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools..." (KJV) Yes, we are to worship God from our hearts. Thanks for the blog!

  3. Good points. This made me think of some churches I've attended and why I did/didn't like them. One very popular church in Australia comes to mind; it looked like a huge auditorium and felt like a bit concert with an inspirational message in the middle that had nothing to do with God. I much preferred the traditional high Anglican church, located closer to my hostel, that just my its architecture drew my thoughts up in reverence and awe to God.

  4. Tracy mentioned that she enjoyed your choice of title too -- me TOO! It made me want to see what you were going to say next.

    Like you I don't want to waste my time. And as you say, it's about Him. It's always about Him.

    Sometimes it's difficult to focus when things are going on around us in a service -- people moving in and out of pews, shuffling, water bottles clanging, folks still chatting in the back, and whatever else.

    First, I refuse to be offended. Then I start to tune out so that I focus in -- quieting my heart and thoughts and then setting my focus totally on Jesus.

    As I've been learning how to tune out the distractions, I've also been learning how to tune in to the flow of my heart that joins in with the music, that imagines Him looking at me with incredible joy coming from His eyes as He hears my love song to Him. I can make Him happy - is that neat or what?

    Isn't that what love longs to do -- to make the Other person happy?

    Worship, for me, is romancing the Divine -- Me loving Him with all my being -- Loving Him as any bride would love her bridegroom.

    And so, Ramona, I'm with you -- I don't want to waste these times either.

  5. Great posting.Truth nailed to the post. In fact, I wrote something to similar effect on mission work of today on my personal blog, afer seeing the movie, The Other side of Heaven.

  6. I enjoyed all your thoughts, everybody--thanks for the comments!


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