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When Worship is Over

catherdral main aisle

A question that all pastors, teachers and Christian speakers should ask themselves is this:  when people walk out of this gathering, what do I want them thinking about? 

In recent years there has been a healthy emphasis within the evangelical world on a God-centered approach to ministry.  Because God is the source of our physical lives and our spiritual lives – because he is the only real “good” we have in this life – it is only natural to want to fill people with correct thoughts about him.  Right living starts with right thinking about God.

I think most of us have a natural tendency to focus on application. So much so, that at times, application is all there is to a message.  We start by identifying a problem and then spend the next 30 or 40 minutes detailing how we can fix that problem.  There really isn’t much content per se other than a non-stop barrage of things we need to do better.

So people leave the worship service or class – focused on what they need to do differently.  They have a lot of solutions to problems they weren’t even aware they had.

I would argue that if you start with God – focus on God – and dwell on God, the application will just naturally flow in an obvious way.  In a world where we are constantly striving to be practical, God is about as practical as you can get.  In a church driven by its efforts to be relevant, nothing can possibly be more relevant than the Lord himself.  Knowing, worshipping, obeying and submitting to him is the essence of relevance.

If your topic, for instance, is the trustworthiness of God, that point simply oozes with application.  God can be trusted to forgive us.  God can be trusted to meet our daily needs.  God can be trusted to build strong marriages.  God can be trusted with our health issues, with sickness and with the dying process.  When we build a big picture of a big God who is infinitely trustworthy, it is incredibly easy to apply that idea to our lives.

Often speakers jump so quickly to application, that they really don’t have any actual content to apply.  We need to first build a base – a strong theology – good teaching about the Lord – and then just naturally let those ideas flow into application. 

Unique flower

What do you want people thinking about when they leave your worship service?  What do you want your students thinking about as they walk out of your class?

Personally I want people to be overwhelmed with a sense of God:  his greatness and power, his goodness, sovereignty, beauty, closeness and holiness.  I don’t want people leaving the room thinking about how neat my illustrations were – or how timely the topic seemed – or how well the subject addressed pressing, societal issues.  And I’m really not all that concerned that they have three new things to do. 

I want people walking out of the service with hearts overflowing with thoughts about the greatness of God. "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable." Psalm 145:3


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