Melissa Scott is currently living abroad in Doha, Qatar with her family. This was reprinted by her permission from her family blog post on March 31, 2011.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about worship.
Actually, I’ve having a little bit of an internal struggle about it. We are attending a church here in Doha and to be honest, the worship style is a little bit hard for me. It’s very contemporary – different in every way from what we are used to in Houston at South Main Baptist Church, and even before that. The worship is led by rotating teams, a different leader each week. I think I understand contemporary worship – that it’s meant to be very organic and emotional. I appreciate the poetic song texts and the rock/pop style and I also appreciate that lots of different kinds of musicians can be a part of it and the whole congregation can participate.
That’s all good stuff. But – in the end it just doesn’t move me. It’s hard for me to connect – too much noise, it sounds too forced and unintentional, and I just don’t ever feel I’m a part of it. I find myself tuning out, watching the time, and kind of retreating into my own thoughts – blocking it out and waiting for it to be over. Trying to fix my face into a relaxed expression rather than a pinched wince. Why is that? I’m not sure, but here’s a little excerpt from a devotional I read recently:
These Are My Gifts
I am opening the treasure of my heart to look for gifts to give you, my King. My offerings reflect the ways I worship you in the everyday. Love for my family. Kindness to others. Help in the face of need. Faith in the future. Trust through doubt. Lord, please accept these responses as they reflect my deep affection for You.
From One – Minute Devotions for Women by Hope Lyda
Though the devotion is about gifts and what we can offer up to God in our daily lives – I still feel there’s a message for me written in the text about worship. I have to sit with the idea that worship isn’t about a style or even a specific 15-minute window during each week. Worship is about responding and honoring God every minute. To say I don’t connect with a certain style of worship is to say I’m not really seeking to connect with God. That is very convicting for me. And, if I have any gifts to offer – aren’t they gifts of music? What am I doing exactly – sitting in chairs and waiting for the 15 minutes to pass each Friday during the service? How does that fit into any sort of obedience to God’s call on my life? What does it say about my deep devotion for Christ?
So it was already on my mind and then I got an email from my church specifically about worship. A few years ago I participated in a committee. We were asked to take a critical look at worship at the church we attend in Houston. I visited several other congregations – listened to their worship services and we spent long hours talking within the committee about what was good, maybe not so good, and how it all fits with the vision and church culture at South Main. It was a task force of sorts – focused on examining and thinking about what worship means to that congregation and how we could make it meaningful each week.
As I reread the report, I was quickly reminded that the act of worship is not about me. It’s not about getting something. It’s about what we each give to God in every moment.
What does it matter how I think a worship service should look, feel, and sound? It’s more about what we offer up to the God who makes all things new. Intentional worship is about taking time weekly to attend to your relationship with God. To refocus and remind ourselves that we are called to be different, that we have decided to follow Jesus, and that the stuff of life that takes such a front and center place in our thinking may not be what God wants us to focus on. So, I’m trying to step over my opinions and preferences and my need to have things feel like home, and into a place of obedience and renewal. God has brought us here to Doha for a reason (or several reasons), and I believe that every part of the experience has the ability to teach and grow us.
This verse helps crystalize that idea for me:
Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. –Romans 12:2
I’m also trying to remember that in working to honor God in the way I care for the girls and my students, in offering friendship and encouragement to an expat friend, and in continuing to build a strong relationship with Steve – I am in a way worshiping. I’m offering my best to God and showing my deep devotion to Him. Through love, kindness, help, faith, and trust I am honoring God. Or trying to, at least. These are some of the thoughts that are holding my attention these days. I can’t promise that when next Friday morning rolls around I won’t be struggling, but I will be hoping for renewal and for a fresh perspective. Maybe one of these Sundays there will be an opportunity for me to lead worship and I’ll be able to embrace it and follow God’s call through it.
I’m trying to keep moving in that direction.