My Biggest Problem in Worship

I can worship anywhere, and often have. A creekbank, a busy sidewalk, a shopping mall or anywhere in my house.

I can worship alone, or with one or two, or with a crowd.

My opinion is that I worship best in a crowd of God’s people. I sing better and louder, am inspired by the devotion of others, and enjoy hearing God’s preaching more while I’m with the family.

Our Lord Jesus knew we worship better with our brethren than alone. He said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

I cannot explain how the Lord is more present when I’m with the family of believers than otherwise, but there it is. I’ve found that to be the reality.

I love to worship with the Lord’s family.

And that’s the problem.

The same people in the room who bless and magnify my worship often constitute a hindrance to my worship.

  • Some are carrying bad attitudes. A few are mad at the preacher. Some married couples are angry with each other and have brought that coldness to church with them. A few husbands were coerced by their wives into coming, and their faces are not keeping it a secret.
  • Among the rest, not everyone is worshiping. They’ve come for a hundred reasons other than to bow down before the Living God and “give Him the glory due His name.”
  • Not all who are entering into the service are inspiring the rest of us to worship. Some are mumbling the words, some look sad and some seem distracted. Focusing on them does not help my worship a bit.
  • Not all are even paying attention. Teenagers are passing notes. Mothers are shushing their children. Choir members are glancing around the room to see who is present today and who is a no-show. Several are bored.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to worship God. I’m back here on my row struggling to get my eyes off those people and focus on the Lord, to humble my spirit, to pray for those distracted people and to take advantage of this hour of worship in God’s house.

I need this hour of worship, but many among these lovely people who make up my church family are not helping me.

But perhaps I can help them.

Perhaps if I block out the interference and throw myself into worship, they will see and be encouraged to do the same.

Perhaps if I sing energetically, my abandon will inspire those around me to sing heartily too.

If I pay attention to the sermon and take notes, maybe others will decide to pay closer attention and get more from it.

Some of the most memorable worship times in my life have taken place in auditoriums of all sizes surrounded by the Lord’s people who are worshiping and loving, singing and giving and praising. So, I know how life-changing this can be. It’s what the Lord had in mind when He said, “Mary has chosen that one good thing that shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

Worship is eternal.

As with every other task in the church, however, our biggest problem is the people.

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Joe McKeever has been a preacher for nearly 60 years, a pastor for 42 years, and a cartoonist/writer for Christian publications all his adult life. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.