by George Barna
Our research regularly shows that most people go through the motions on Sundays, returning from church without feeling as if they truly encountered the living God. We know most pastors have tried to prepare a half-hour (on average) of teaching meant to connect them with the mind of God. We know most worship leaders have carried out an agenda of music and prayer designed to connect them with the heart of God. We know that most laypersons attend church hoping that the experience might prove to be worth their time and effort.
Why, then, does less than one out of every three adults in the USA report that they feel as if they were truly in God’s presence and met Him in a personal way on a typical Sunday?
Again, the research points out several disturbing truths. Most church-goers do nothing to prepare themselves to come into the presence of a holy and righteous God prior to (or even upon) arriving at their church. Further, by their own admission, surprisingly few adults really understand what worship is. And nearly half of the people sitting in such services have never invited Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, thereby effectively negating their capacity to worship: how can they worship a God they don’t know?
But a growing obstacle to genuine worship is the rampant individualism that characterizes most Americans. Not only does the me-first-and-me-only attitude hinder their focus on God, but it is the enemy of unity. In Romans 15:5-6, Paul reminds us that the Church must be united, for it is in the context of our harmony with God and His disciples that true worship occurs. Churches remain bastions of internal politics, gossip, judgmentalism and relational factions. It is rare to find a congregation defined by true unity and accountability among all the believers. Certainly, one of the cornerstones of the life-changing worship experienced by the early church is revealed in Acts 2:42-47: the constant fellowship, sharing, serving, accountability and resulting worship that distinguished the Church from the rest of the religious world.
People whose eyes are riveted to themselves cannot focus upon God. How are you helping people to see beyond themselves? What will it take for us to develop a united family of believers whose first and deepest desire is to worship God rather than get their own way?