(Sounds simple, but you wouldn't believe the trouble we've had with this simple idea in the past. It's a definite negative to moving, finding a new church family, what we consider 'home.')
Directly in front of us were a group of about 7 elderly Asian people, one holding a walker, one just sat with his eyes shut tight. In front of them was a row of punk-looking kids, a skateboard leaning on the chair. Next to them, some families. Up front were two peculiar men leading worship. One had long hair, tight jeans, tattoos and an American accent (Colorado native we found out, yeah!) and completely blew the microphone out of the building, I was astounded by the talent. The other also had tattoos, a wife-beater tank top on revealing a shaggy, hairy chest that matched his shaggy, hairy head crammed in a hat and he was jamming the guitar. Behind them were a plethora of musicians and singers who make the final round of 'American Idol' look like a junior high talent show. As I glanced around, I didn't see two people alike. All aspects of age, race, life...all gathered. This wasn't a show, this was worship at Citipointe Church and I knew we had found our new home as I watched tears streak down the wrinkled cheeks of a very elderly woman who was pouring her heart out next to her husband who was waving his shaky hands in the air and doing his best to dance to the music played by a group who probably weren't even alive when they celebrated their 50th anniversary. This is community, this is what heaven looks like and this is the place we now call home.
What is worship and why is it important?
Worship is a word that is interchangeable with prayer. It's the same word in the hebrew language. Whenever you read that someone went to the temple to pray, it means they went to worship. It looks different in different places, and that's awesome!
(I'm not here, nor will I ever be, dogmatic about any of this.)
But if you take a close look at the Jewish faith, and how Jesus would have worshipped and prayed, you might wonder a bit. Prayer/worship was done through the lifting of hands, the singing of scripture, the tears of those begging God to remember His promises, the incomprehensible mutterings of having the spirit of man fully connected with the Spirit of God...this was worship and it was always loud. I've heard it said that you will never understand the concept of pure joy until you're in Jerusalem on Sukkot. (don't worry, I'll cover that festival later this year) During festivals, synagogue, or even some weddings, people would dance until they passed out. They would shout and scream and sing the scripture until they could no longer find air in their lungs.
(I want that! Why did we ever think we had to change it to be more 'sophisticated?')
It took place in many ways, but the first century it took place at the 3pm sacrifice. Go through the Bible and count the number of times that God did something great at 3pm. When we are worshipping with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies, God has no choice but to act. Rabbis would pray/worship after they've physically exhausted themselves so that they have nothing left except the utmost need for God and then they could truly pray. (have you ever been side-tracked at church, your mind is wandering far away? Try climbing a mountain and then praying immediately after, before you've had water. Try fasting 40 days first and see what miracles God will do. Try not having all your needs met so that you have no choice but to trust God to hear you.) If you can truly worship without a community or without music or without a church, that's fine. I cannot. I need someone to remind me how Great my God truly is sometimes, how much bigger He is than my itty brain can fathom and that sometimes, I need to get over myself and my pettiness and give glory to the Almighty.
Please do not tell me it's for show, please do not tell me it wasn't like this in the early church, please do not tell me it's fake. Is it about emotion and feeling? Absolutely! If it wasn't, it wouldn't be real and I wouldn't be madly in love with my God. Our messiah was extremely emotional, screaming at those who disrespected God and tearfully loving those who needed a second chance. How can I pour out myself completely in prayer if I don't feel something? Yes, there is a place for reverence and respect in a church. But MY GOD is also the God of joy, rejoicing, dancing, and all things good. If I can't be united with my God in this way at church, with fellow believers, then where the heck can I? If I can't be moved to tears because of the posture of my heart that has found it's place through worship, then I better check myself. Am I saying that it has to be like this everywhere? Of course not. Am I saying it always has to be emotional or I always have to feel the same? Of course not. That's the beautiful mystery of the Spirit. However, if you tell me it's a show or it is not real, then you and I do not worship the same God. For I've seen with my own eyes the literal miracles that happen when people stand together in worship. I don't really care if it makes you uncomfortable or you don't like it or you think it should look different...wake up call, church is not about you. Church is about others, the kingdom of God, which is here and we have a calling to love God and to love others. I don't care if you think the music is too loud or the prayers are too long. Sit and criticize and you will miss the Spirit of God actively pursuing those who are there simply because they're part of the church and they want to love people to Christ; the Spirit searches for the hearts of those searching for Him.
So is it all about worship?
No. That is a huge part that cannot be ignored, but there is more than that. We're not looking for something that 'fills us with things we want to hear' but rather a church that believes the truth, preaches the word, is active in the local community (check out their RedFrogs ministry-2500 people first to volunteer for flood relief...and SheRescue ministries-saving trafficked girls in Cambodia on a daily basis), has a simple message for non-believers, preaches love, is not afraid to say they were wrong, is raw and open in their continual discovery of the beautiful mystery of who God is, does not have expectations, encourages you to come as you are and is driven on a daily basis by the evident manifestation of the Holy Spirit (yes, craziness, miracles, weirdness...no pattern, just God). Citipointe church is here to rescue souls and they don't care what that looks like or if you have an opinion about it.
This is the church, this is our church, it does not have to look or even act a certain way, it has one calling: Influence your world for Good and for God. Your world. Maybe your world is your kids, your family, your work, your friends...or maybe it is bigger than all that, it doesn't matter, just influence whatever your world is, for good and for God.
Click here for a short video of some of our awesome worship leaders. Love. It. (Scroll through the videos for more!) Or for just the music, click here to listen to their different albums for free. They just recorded their 2011 live album and we got to be a part of it, it was incredible! I can't wait until it comes out!