You may remember some time ago I referenced the writings of Robert Schnase from his book, "Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations." Since I don't remember everything I covered in that blog article, some of what you read here today might touch on some things you have already read. I recently picked up his book again when I was looking for some ideas on explaining the worship experience and found some input on the subject I wanted to share.
Mr. Schnase states when he is called up to lead worship, his preparation is to aim the worship experience in two directions. One is to the intellect of those who attend the worship, and second, he wants to focus on the heart.
When I mention the worship experience, you will understand the perspective from which I view worship carries with it the worship in the churches I have attended from my youth, and now into my old age. Make no mistake about it, if you are in the same church you were attending 50 years ago, there have been some changes. Those who have moved to different towns and attended different churches will notice even more changes.
Those changes have also changed us. We may become less judgmental if we attend a church that is more forgiving when sins are brought to light. We may rethink our position on miracles, or place more of an emphasis on missions, or we could even learn something we had never learned before that would change us.
Having said all that, think with me about how our worship experiences are aimed at our intellect. You may then want to ask yourself what part of the worship has affected your intellect in any way? Perhaps you will think of a verse from the Bible that opens your eyes to a new truth. Or it could be the testimony of someone which allowed you to realize your need to be more open to others about your feelings, your shortcomings, or your need for growth in knowledge. Can you see how worship needs to touch us individually in this way?
The other focus is on the heart, and while invisible to us, the effects are more visible. Has an old hymn ever brought tears to your eyes during worship? All of us will admit our hearts are moved with the reading of scriptures like the 23rd Psalm. Baptism events bring smiles of love from us all. Even patting your foot to the beat of a lively praise song can be a visible proof of worship affecting your heart.
I want us to all be aware of the importance of intellect in worship as we learn and grow individually and as a church body. I will be among the first to admit it's when the heart is touched, to the point of visibly noticing changed hearts, happy hearts, and excited hearts, that's when worship is changing us for the better.
We are commanded to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ," and that sometimes begins with worship. The experiential touching of one's heart and bringing him closer to God is one of the greatest accomplishments of our worship. May God be praised; all glory belongs to Him.