Gathering to Know Christ
What is the point of Christians gathering for worship? It is to Know Christ and express our love to Him.
Every Sunday in the early morning I walk into the sanctuary of our church to pray for the morning. I submit my own life to Jesus, asking Him to use me to bring people into His presence and teach them the truth of His word. I ask Him to remove from my mind and heart anything in my sermon notes that is not of Him, and to put in my mind and heart in real time anything He wants to say to His people. And I ask the Father to manifest His presence throughout the morning in worship so His people may know Him.
Because, you see, worship is not about me or my sermon. It's about Jesus Christ.
Someone made the analogy years ago about worship being like a sacred performance. The problem is, we have a tendency to get it all wrong. In our minds, God is the director of the performance, the pastor and worship team are the performers, and the congregation is the audience. We come to worship too often to be entertained and blessed and strengthened and fixed. And we expect the sermon and the worship to bless us just like we expect the concert to entertain us.
But the truth of worship - the reason we gather - is this: the pastor and worship team are the directors, the congregation are the performers and God is the audience! Worship is not what we watch - it's what we do. Worship is the expression of the love and gratitude of our hearts for the God who has given us grace and new life. God is the one who watches worship to receive back the love He has lavished on His people. And if we do it right, the pastor and worship team direct the people into the place of worship - into the Presence of the Living God - so we may Know Christ and love Him.
The beautiful and amazing thing is that God not only receives the worship we express, but He also lavishes more grace on us as we experience His manifest presence. He heals. He forgives. He strengthens. He gives wisdom. He inspires. He encourages. Jesus Christ, present with us as the Holy Spirit, enters into relationship with us in worship. We know Him and are known by Him. We bless Him and are blessed by Him. At the core of it, we gather to Know Christ.
We do our best at Dayton United Methodist Church (soon to be Gathering Point Church on July 1) to make worship about Jesus, not about us. The worship team and I seek to be hidden behind the Cross so the people are drawn into the Presence of Jesus. If people are not experiencing the Presence of God in worship, then we're just going through some wimpy religious exercises that have no power to transform lives. We don't want to make idols out of religious goose bumps. We want to Know Christ for ourselves and follow Him with everything we've got.
The Apostle Paul put it this way:
"I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:10-11 NIV)
So if you want to pursue Jesus with us at DUMC/Gathering Point Church, we welcome you with open arms. Together, let's seek Jesus with all our hearts. There is no better life to be lived than life lived in a relationship with Jesus.