Community Health and Worship - July 17, 2022
Pastor Mike (00:00):
Worship is a reflection of our individual and also our communities, wellness and health, how we worship, where we place worship in our lives is a reflection of our overall health. It’s a reflection of our priorities. It, it reveals our values and also reveals the quality of the type of gatherings we have. We can either be an isolated and critical community, or we could be a welcoming, loving, and accepting community.
Hannah Hunter (00:31):
Hey, beautiful people. Welcome back to Sundays with gathering I’m Hannah Hunter, the director for digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens. Thanks for joining us. As we continue our study in Colossians three this week, we’re taking a look at emotionally and mentally healthy worship, what that looks like and how that impacts us as individuals and as a community. So many of us struggle to connect in worship, not only with those around us, but also with Christ and even with ourselves this week, pastor Mike takes a deeper dive into the second half of Colossians, three verse 16 and singing Psalms Helms and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Pastor Mike (01:09):
In the Methodist tradition, we have a, a question that we ask a lot, and that is how is it with your soul? We go through life, you know, many of us go through a hurried life. You know, we there’s, there’s a lot of activities that we’ve accomplished. We have to check our to-do list. Um, we have a lot of responsibilities and there’s a lot of things that we would like to do, but for, for different reasons, we’re not even able to do it. And sometimes there’s, you know, there’s a lot going on inside of us too, that we’re not aware of. And so that’s why it’s important for us to ask that question. How is it with my soul? So here’s the question that I have for us just to go a little bit deeper in that this week. Have you, have you felt lonely, have you felt depressed this week?
Pastor Mike (01:54):
Have you had moments where you felt anxious or a lack of belonging now, maybe you didn’t experience it this week. Maybe it was just for a fleeting moment. Maybe you did experience it this week, or maybe some of you have been experiencing this for a long time is a reoccurring feeling that just keeps on coming up and you just don’t understand why you’ve been feeling it for a while. I want you to know if you have those feelings, whether it was a fleeting, or is this something that keeps reoccurring like a, a wave that crashes into the end of the beach. You’re not alone. In fact, uh, mental health America, they, they did a study that was called, uh, 2021 COVID 19 and mental health, a growing crisis. And they screened 1.5 million people. And they focused on a time, you know, just from January to September of 2020.
Pastor Mike (02:47):
And what they found, um, was just striking that the number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression had increased by 93% during that people during that period compared to, um, 2019, they also found that by September, uh, 2020, that eight outta 10 people that were screened had moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression and 70% of all the people that, that, um, that were part of this screening, uh, reported that the top three contributors to their mental health concern was loneliness and isolation. That probably doesn’t surprise us, but, but we need to talk about this because mental health is something that is, needs to be seriously taken. And, and unfortunately, sometimes in the church, we over spiritualize this stuff. When we talk about mental health or even emotional health, we understand that sometimes it’s affected by clinical conditions within inside of us.
Pastor Mike (03:47):
Sometimes it’s situational. Other times we’ve experienced individual trauma or sometimes a whole community has experienced trauma. Sometimes it’s things that happening in our society, it comes in our family of origin and sometimes there’s just some stuff going on inside of us. And what I want you to know is that, um, it’s important that you take care of your mental and emotional health. And the good news that you need to hear is that God cares about those things for you too. God cares about you. You see salvation is not just about escaping earth to go to heaven. Like so many people, you know, believe, but it’s so much more when you think about the word salvation, I mean, this is God’s way. This is God’s mission of making all things, new healing, our brokenness, and making us whole. So for the past several weeks, we have been just going through Colossians chapter three versus 12 to 17 and verse 12, uh, kind of sets the tone for our discussion.
Pastor Mike (04:52):
And that is that this is where we understand our identity, that, that great big question. Who am I, where do I belong? What am I supposed to do? And what we see is that, that we are, God’s chosen ones that God picked you out, that God loved you. The moment when you became aware of, of, of receiving the free gift of Jesus, knowing that he died on the cross for our sin, knowing that he paid the price for every fullest thing that we did, whether intentionally or unintentionally, he came to make all things new. He came to break the power of sin and death. We find that we are chosen, but not only are we chosen, but we are holy people. In other words, we are people that are meant to be complete mature set apart. This is our identity and we are beloved. Sometimes we don’t use that, that term beloved enough.
Pastor Mike (05:47):
And, but in other ways of looking at it is that we are God’s children. In other words, we are part of God’s family. We are part of a house. And I think it’s even more so than adoption. I mean, I mean, just imagine just the, the blood and life of, of the living, God, the blood and life of Jesus Christ, the community and fellowship of father, son, holy spirit is ours. And then what we see is a, a bunch of, you know, instructions that remind us about the attributes and behaviors that we should have that are aligned according to our new identity in God’s family. If you’re not aware of this, you’re gonna be hearing this a lot from me, but your identity, your understanding of what your identity is, determines your activity, it determines your behavior. It, it helps you figure out or discern what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing according to your identity.
Pastor Mike (06:42):
So today here’s what we’re focusing on. Colossians chapter three versus 16 B, this is, this is gonna be the, the basis of what we’re talking about today. And with gratitude in your heart, seeing hymns and spiritual songs to God, what we’re talking about is worship. We’re gonna look at worship today because I believe that worship is a reflection of our individual and also our communities, wellness and health, how we worship, where we place worship in our lives is a reflection of just the, our overall health. It’s a reflection of our priorities. It reveals our values. It also reveals the quality of the type of gatherings we have. So we even look at us gathering together as the gathering place here. You know, we can either be an isolated and critical community, or we could be a welcoming, loving, and accepting community. Also. Um, it gives a lot of insight.
Pastor Mike (07:48):
Worship is a lot of insight into what’s going on in our individual lives, but also what’s going on in our community. You know, worship is actually a spiritual discipline. I used to love, teach about worship when I was serving in, in Russia, because like the very root of the word means to bow down. In other words, it’s a surrendering, it’s a humbling yourself. It’s, it’s, it’s putting yourself down and realize that you are not the, the biggest item on the agenda. Now, when I talk about worship and I talk about God, and I talk about the need, uh, to worship, I encounter people that, that question, that, and they question the, the God that we worship. They’re like, why does your God need to be worshiped? Why does your God need all this attention? I’ve had some people categorize, say, yo, your God must be some kind of ego maniac.
Pastor Mike (08:42):
You know, that has to have all the focus on him all the time. And contrary to this opinion that, that some people I know that have this opinion, um, yes, I would agree with them if God was a person, if God was a human being and, and you know, then I was like, yeah, there’s something. I mean, it’s like beyond the scale of, of narcissism here, but here’s what I want us to, to get ahold of is that I believe that all of us are hardwired and there words we were created to worship God. It’s part of our identity, worship shapes, our activity. You see when the majority of your time is focused on the wrong things, you know what happens? You start doing the wrong things, but when our focus, our priority, our values are, is on Jesus. Then Jesus becomes integrated in every part of our lives. And so here’s a question I just wanna lead with you just to think about as we’re, we’re starting this conversation about even what you’re doing right here right now, does your worship of God have a real impact on your behavior? So in other words, what you’re doing right now Sunday morning, does this really make a difference in your life? Because here’s what I want you to consider. If what is happening here is not making a real difference and the rest of your life.
Pastor Mike (10:14):
Maybe you’re not worshiping with us. Maybe you’re not worshiping the God who is with us, but maybe something else is consuming your time, your attention and your affection. If it is not shaping the way you live, this is honesty time, okay? Because maybe we are actually worshiping somewhere else. We might be in the building. We might be going through the rituals, but our heart is somewhere else. Maybe we’re even worshiping another God. And we’re not even aware of it. And that God could be money. It could be materialism. It could be wealth. It could be fame. It could be our flesh, whatever it is, we can, we can make a God in our own image and not even realize it. You see, we imitate what we worship and what we, and what occupies our attention. You know, those are the things that we give our affection to.
Pastor Mike (11:14):
So if you worship, Jesus expect to be like Jesus, back to our texts. And with gratitude in your hearts, sing songs, hymned, spiritual songs to God. Now there’s, there’s thousands of books written about worship. Churches have had wars over worship divisions over worship is, and I’m not here to get into the theology of worship. Cause we can go very, very broad. And yes, I can kind of narrow the focus on worship and you know, talk about corporate worship. But, but today I’m gonna focus on something that’s a little bit outta my comfort zone. And that is congregational singing. See our singing this part of worship, at least what we’re instructed here with gratitude in your hearts, this worship Springs forth from our relationship with God, more distinctly. It doesn’t just, you know, cause sometimes we say relationships with God and it’s like, so generic, like I a relationship with Jesus and me too.
Pastor Mike (12:14):
And you know, and just like, what does that mean? You know, does that really make you sing? But maybe our singing needs to come out of our encounter with God’s grace or our understanding of how we experience salvation. In other words, if you do not have an understanding, a personal understanding and even a communal or corporate understanding of salvation, you know what, man, it is really hard to get involved and connect with worship. Um, especially trying to worship God through songs. Cause you know, I can entertain you through, um, some scripture you might get entertained by some, some music, but to really connect with God through song, you have to experience it yourself. Worship. I would, I would even argue is, is, uh, sacramental, you know, like in the church, in the Protestant church, we talk about two sacraments baptism and we talk about holy communion.
Pastor Mike (13:11):
But the reason why I would say worship, but even congregational singing is sacramental is because the, the word Sacra means, right? An outward sign, an outward expression of an inward grace. So out of what’s happening inside of our hearts, if, if God is not alive and moving in your hearts, um, you know, if that’s happening, it’s coming out and it’s sacramental, but if it’s not happening, if there’s not an overflowing of joy and overflowing of love, uh, just coming out, then, then something there’s a disconnect. You know, as, as father Richard roar would say, he says we are moved when we, when we really start to worship from the, my, you know, like what I like and, and, and what makes me happy to the beyond Thelan and our, sometimes we, we get very clearish in church. You know, we have us Methodists and we have the Baptist and we have the non-denominational and we have all these people that say, well, I’m this and I’m that.
Pastor Mike (14:07):
And we get very clearish, but, but eventually if we really wanna hit to the heart of worship, worship needs to move us to the, I am you see beyond the preferences I like or beyond what my, what are the denominational signs and institutional things that we hold onto, but to move to the great, I am the God who was in the beginning is now and who will forever be. I am who I am. So it’s so easy when you read this perfect text to, to jump into like our way of thinking. You know, like when you, when you hear like, okay, let’s worship God with Psalms hymns and spiritual songs, we all have a point of reference. You know, we have a hymn that comes to our mind. We have a song that, of what it should be. And I want you to know that apostle Paul had those same kind of issues.
Pastor Mike (15:02):
He came from a different kind of context and also a context that was evolving and changing. And so there’s some things I think that we can glean that would help us in our understanding of worship. So apostle Paul’s home position, right. We know that he was a Pharisee, he was Jewish. So he had an understanding of what hymns were being sung, but he also experienced the living Jesus, but not only that he was living in the Roman empire, right? So in the Roman empire empire, you have this Pantheon of God’s. And if you look at, you know, um, ancient texts, I mean, there’s lots of hymns and stuff written to the ancient gods. So let’s just kind of dig into some of these just to give us some little bit of definition Psalm. So the general definition of the Psalm is a sacred song or poem usually S in worship from a biblical understanding, or even a Hebrew understands, this is both, um, Jewish and Christian understanding.
Pastor Mike (15:56):
It’s the book of Psalms. But what I thought was really neat about this, cuz you know, there’s, there’s lots of different understandings about, um, about how music should be done in church. You know, you know, should we have drums or not, or electric guitar or organ, all those kind of questions, but, or some traditions say, should we even have music at all? But the, the actual Hebrew origin of the word Psalm means to twang or pluck, strike a chord with an instrument. That’s what the word actually means. And so basically we understand that it’s a Pius or a sacred song that was accompanied by some kind of instrument. Now let’s talk about hymns. Oh man, we, I mean, every time even as we’re moving forward in this church, you have people like, what about the hymns pastor? I’m like, well, which hys are we talking about?
Pastor Mike (16:46):
You know, but what is a hymn what was a hymn in apostle Pauls time? What are we understand about hymns today? Another simple working definition of him is a, is a religious song or poem. That is a praise to God. And what, what distinguishes the hymn is that it focuses on the activity of God or the testimony of God’s faithfulness. For example, there are lots of hymns in scripture that talk about, um, God’s deliverance, you know, helping the zeroes, um, overcome a battle. Um, there’s hymns app praise when they cross the red sea. So we’re not talking about him from a music theory position. Okay. So anyone who’s a music major, you know, that there’s, there’s distinct classifications of hymns. We’re not talking about that, but we’re talking about the, the, the meaning or purpose of the hymns. And that is to, to sing a, a praise to God, which leads us to the last thing, spiritual songs, spiritual songs.
Pastor Mike (17:43):
And we, again, when you just start just digging into words, it relates to more of God’s activity or the interaction God’s interaction with the soul, or it’s the soul’s response to encountering God’s grace and notice that the emphasis is on the soul. I mean, that’s the connection, that spiritual song. So it’s a, it’s a, like a re a, a reflection of what we personally experienced. So if you notice in, in Hebrew, or even the early church of the Bible readings, other than the Psalm and the emphasis on using a stringed emphasis, hymns and spiritual songs, aren’t defined musically, you know, so there isn’t like a, a clear definition of it. They’re more operational or, or, uh, thematic type of things. And when I, when I started listening to that, I was like, man, I said, man, we waste a lot of time in church, fighting over all these different ways of worship and what’s the right way of worship and which song is appropriate and all that when the scripture doesn’t define it.
Pastor Mike (18:44):
So what does that mean? You know, again, us who are, are, are in the Methodist tradition. If the scripture doesn’t really clearly define it, then that’s not an essential to salvation. And if it’s not an essential to salvation, then therefore we need to have some, some Liberty here. We gotta create some space. We gotta learn how to recognize the differences with each other. Now let’s start naming something else that, that we have a problem with this. Okay. There’s a lot of social anxiety with singing and I’m talking about for the people who can’t sing. Okay. Like, I mean, you know what I mean? Like, like, you know what I mean? Like there’s, there’s people that, that, I mean, we hear, you know, they, they can sing, but then there’s some of us that are just like, we hear the angels that I’m like, I’m gonna keep quiet.
Pastor Mike (19:28):
You know, I I’m talking baby more for myself, but, but we’ve been socially trained to be constrained. You know, we, we, we’ve been trained to kind of just limit and, and hold ourselves in and, and not let anything out. Sometimes we’re afraid to sing out loud because we’re afraid that we’re gonna look foolish. We don’t know the words. Sometimes we’re afraid to sing and, and really let ourselves let the guard down because we’re afraid we’re gonna lose control. Sometimes a song will reveal a hidden emotion that we have. You ever have that where you, where, where a song will just touch a memory, you’ll touch something in your soul. And if you give yourself over that, you never know what kind of emotion will come out of it, right? Sometimes it’ll make you cry. It might remember your first date. It might make, bring you back to your first heartbreak.
Pastor Mike (20:16):
It might bring you back to a parent or, or some other deep seated emotion that you have. But, but music is powerful. It touches soul. I mean, you don’t even have to hear the words. You just start hearing the tune and it starts doing something to you. And so we are afraid that when our soul is touch, we can’t hide our emotions. We, we we’re gonna get exposed. And that’s why the, sometimes when a song is played, we get this like, unbelievable emotion comes out of it. It brings us back to our, maybe our childhood, our first love of Jesus. Maybe it brings us back to the camp experience. And then other times, you know what, sometimes we, we start to cry and it reminds us of where we need to be healed. You know, like there’s some songs that I’ll hear. And it brings me right back to my, my great-grandmother some of the hymns, you know, that just, that will just, just touch me.
Pastor Mike (21:03):
So, because we’re afraid of this, right. Of letting ourselves out, allowing people to see us, we don’t sing. How many of you have been in church? And the choir’s just going, or maybe the band’s just going and everybody in the congregation is just standing, barely moving their lips. Now let’s contrast to places where maybe we’re more comfortable to sit like shower alone in the car, maybe. Well, again, like some people are okay with someone shouted out karaoke. Um, I don’t know. Cause some people don’t wanna be, uh, be put out, be put in front. But, but here’s something that, that I would like to address is that sometimes we don’t sing, cuz we don’t wanna be seen as vulnerable in front of people, but in places like the shower of a car, you know, we can be ourselves. We don’t have to hide. And when I think about not hiding, it brings me back to the garden when there was a good relationship with God and, and people got along well and there was no fear and shame. The good news is that Jesus promises to take away all of our fear and all of our shame. And I guess the question I’m asking you is, do you really believe it?
Pastor Mike (22:18):
No, we don’t believe it. Let’s be honest. It’s just, I lying in church. We don’t believe it. You know, because if we did, we’d be singing. We’d be unrestrained. We’d be just letting it all out. But we’re, we’re embarrassed. We’re afraid. We’re afraid we’re gonna get judged. We’re afraid about what people are gonna think. But we, but this is stuff that we need to aspire to, to, to grow through that, that I wanna experience. God’s salvation where I’m not influenced by what other people think or I’m not ashamed. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to just live your entire life and not feel any sense of shame or guilt or judgment, especially when you come in the house of God.
Pastor Mike (22:54):
Can you imagine that now, now gonna give you some confessional on me. You know, just, you know, about my inner world. There are times and there’s been seasons of my life where I actually enjoy congregational singing. But there’s times when I don’t, sometimes if it’s like a style of music, I really don’t like, or maybe I’m not familiar with the words and I’ll be honest. I’ll be like, man, I just can’t wait for this singing to get over with so I can get to the meat of the words. I can hear what the preacher has to say. Now let’s just take a step back of what I just say. That is completely selfish. It’s, it’s really selfish because I get my teaching. I get what’s in it for me and it’s and I have, and I’m this like just breeds out this, this being a consumer, a consumer, a consumer, instead of a contributor instead of community, it’s all about me.
Pastor Mike (23:41):
And I need you to know that worshiping is something more than listening to a teaching. Now I get it. Okay. Now, you know, part of being a pastor I have to persuade, right? And I’ll be honest with you. It’s really hard to try to sell people on ideas that are good for society. I mean, I know people, you know, think of like, we have to be altruistic and stuff, but, but a lot of people, man, they don’t care about what’s good for society. Um, you know what? It doesn’t excite a lot of people like get this, like when you worship and sing, you’re part of the great cloud of witnesses and you are, and you are, and you are worshiping with the saints that were before you, those who are present where were universally connected and with all the saints that are to come, I mean we’re spiritually connected in Jesus.
Pastor Mike (24:24):
Woo. Did that get you excited though? You guys were just like blank stares looking at me. It doesn’t excite you, so, okay. So what’s good for society. What’s good for the church. Does it excite you? How about this? They’re singing actually. And, and almost every tradition of religion. There’s some kind of element of singing. All right. I got a couple head nods there. It still doesn’t excite you, but here’s the question you want to ask. What’s in it for me, right? That will get your attention. Like why is singing good for me? Why do I need to let myself go? Why is this good for me? So Oxford university put out some studies. I mean, there’s a lot of literature out there about the benefits of singing, but singing has been shown to improve your sense of happiness, your wellbeing.
Pastor Mike (25:11):
It, it boosts your mood. It releases endorphins, serotonin end dopamine. It actually helps your health lowers your stress, strengthens your lungs. And there is evidence to suggest that music can play a role in sustaining a healthy immune system by reducing the stress hormone of cortisol and boosting the hemoglobin a antibody. It actually improves your memory and it builds community. So there’s a lot of benefits. If you just, you know, just get out of your comfort zone and just start singing. But here’s something that I think is really important that we need to pay attention to you.
Pastor Mike (25:48):
It builds community. You see the desire to belong is a fundamental human motivation. I mean, this is something that we were creating. I mean, even like, you know, psychiatrists talk about this all the time and you know, if you look at like, Maslows remember anyone remember like Maslow’s, um, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So this is like one of the, the best motivational, uh, theory theories on motivation. So Maslow’s theory states that our actions are motivated by certain physiological and sociological needs. That request, that, that begin from the basics of our needs. And they go into more, you know, um, complex needs. So every, he, he, he, he brings the position that, that everyone has some basic needs that need, that just need to be met, to be fulfilled, to be a happy human being and the first need. And, and, and if you look at this and compared to a lot of Jesus ministries, you see a lot of, uh, Jesus work.
Pastor Mike (26:42):
You, you see a lot of correlation to it. The first one is he says, everybody has a physiological need. In other words, like your, your basics need to be met. You need to have food. You need to have water. You need to have health and wellness safety against, uh, oh, wait, I’m sorry. Went through that. Sorry, food, water, shelter, clothing, and breathing. Your basic needs, the second level of need. So once that is meant, you need to have a safety need for some of us. That means that we need to be financially secure, but we need to have an over overall sense of health and wellness. We need to feel safe against like injury and accidents. If people don’t have these basic needs, I mean, I’m telling you what it’s hard to do. It’s hard to do anything with them. It’s hard to live with them. It’s, it’s hard to move for them. It’s it’s just, it’s not good. So we all strive for this, like this, this motivates our behaviors. Now imagine a pyramid, the, the, the middle layer of the pyramid. And this is what we’re kind of focusing on is the social need it’s right at the center of the pyramid. And the social need is that, is that need for love, acceptance, and belonging.
Pastor Mike (27:53):
So we experience that through our family, our friends, intimate relationships in our community groups like church. Now this is a very needs based thing. Okay? These are some things that we need, but once we have those basic needs established, then we start having growth needs, which are the last two on his pyramid. The, the fourth need is esteem. We need self-esteem. We need self and community respect. We need to have a sense of personal worth. Now we hear a lot about the need for self-esteem all about me, what I want, how I, you know, I’m okay. You know, I, I just gotta fulfill my life, my destiny, my purpose. And we don’t have a lot here, a lot about the need for community. And what I’m afraid happens is when we put this self-esteem first before having the, the, the basic need of community met, or that acceptance, that I am loved, that I belong, that I have a place.
Pastor Mike (28:59):
We have a very unhealthy understanding of self something is missing the last part, the top of the pyramid self actualization. And this is a description of people who, who are self actualizing people. They are self-aware in words, they, they, they, they know the voices that are going inside of them. They’re concerned with personal growth, and they’re less concerned with the opinions of others and interested in fulfilling their potential. Now, Abraham Maslow was a humanist. Okay, let, let’s just name that. But, but I see a lot of what Jesus kingdom brings to us that, that really restores and addresses every one of these needs, because you cannot have a healthy sense of self and live into your fullest potential to fulfill God’s destiny for your life without having a healthy sense of belonging. Now let’s start naming some stuff. Let’s talk about COVID because of COVID, you know, we got outta a habit of worshiping together and we understand that it’s a safety issue.
Pastor Mike (30:01):
Okay. It’s a safety issue. And we had to find new ways of being community, but let’s just be clear that a lot of those new ways of being community are provisional ways. Okay. They, they, they were, they were made to, to deal with an immediate problem. And now, as we’re still going, you know, forward with COVID and it’s still around, you know, we, we still have some more provisional ways, you know, we’re, we’re trying to figure out. And so we’ve, we have some hybrid situations. We, we are adapting things. And one thing that we also have to understand is that, you know, we’re, I mean, a lot has changed in us. I mean, a person’s understanding of personal space or social comfort has changed. You know, when someone sneeze or whatever, you know, you have a different reaction when people get too close to you, sitting in church, you know, your comfort level has changed.
Pastor Mike (30:52):
And you know what? There’s gonna be studies about this for years and years ahead, I am sure of this, but let’s go back to our scripture. Okay? Because again, this is, we’re still called to this and with gratitude in your hearts saying songs, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. Now I’m gonna talk honestly, to you, okay? The gloves are coming off. We’re gonna do a little critique on our independent or individualistic worship. And Hannah, and I know this might just kill the podcast. Okay. But even those that are gonna be listening to this podcast, you need to hear this. So before COVID, you know, an average worshiper in the United States was somebody that worshiped two times a month. Okay. That was considered a good, consistent worshiper by most standards today. You’re lucky. It’s like, now they say one time a month. So sometimes people count like two times online.
Pastor Mike (31:43):
But the, the problem is with online counting is that, you know, if you’re looking at your metrics, sometimes, you know, if someone watches a view for 15 seconds or even three seconds, it counts as, as attending something is wrong. Here’s what I hear. Okay. So these are the old silly excuses for not worshiping. We, we, we say stuff like, I don’t like the style. I don’t like the people who attend, um, because all Christians are, are hypocrites. I mean, is that nonsense? Like, do we even listen to what we’re saying to ourselves? And then now we have these excuses, like post COVID now. Okay. So here’s some of the things I worship God on my patio.
Pastor Mike (32:24):
Here’s another one I hear, you know, I worship in the car. I get to hear many pastors. Now I get to hear many preachers. But the question I have is are you experiencing communal worship? Are you worshiping in community when you’re doing all this stuff? You know, like, are you listening to the music? Are you actually singing the music? Are you participating with the congregation? Is there a connection or are you just fast forward into the parts of the service you like? Let’s be honest. I remember when I, when I lived in Atlanta, there was a new church that was started. That was part of a major Christian, uh, record label. And so it was great because, um, they, when they started doing their previous services, they were doing it on Saturday nights. And I was a pastor there. And I would go to these Saturday night services because I got to see the greatest Christian art, um, artist, right there had a live concert all the time.
Pastor Mike (33:22):
And, and people drive in from all over Metro Atlanta to go to these concerts. And they would hear all your, your big names that were on Christian radio. But did I connect with those people? No, it wasn’t my community. And so for those of us who are content with just saying that I’m worshiping online, and that is enough, do you actually meaningfully connect emotionally connect with the people that you’re watching on the screen? Are you part of their community? Do you feel the same hurts that they feel in their community? Are you rooting for the same high school football team, the kids that are in, in the neighborhood? Do you, do you actually know those kids who maybe like the only meal they get is that free lunch meal they get at your local school. That’s just right down the road here. Do we know the kids?
Pastor Mike (34:10):
We know the people in our community. Can you afford to dress like the people that you’re watching with that are attending that, that big name service, you know, when we limit worship to just an online experience, it sounds very isolating to me, sounds very lonely. And what was pointed out to me this week is that isolation is usually a reaction to a deep hurt. And maybe sometimes because of our isolation, we’re running from pain, that’s inside of us. And maybe we sooth ourselves with being busy because when you’re isolating yourself from the body of Christ, you actually isolate yourself from God. Do you hear me? So if you are not meaningfully meaningfully connecting with the people you are worshiping with you, you are not connecting with God. And you know what that means. It means that I don’t have to face what God is doing in our community.
Pastor Mike (35:06):
I don’t have to face the hurts, the pains. I don’t have to face the challenges or mission that God is calling me to, cuz I’m not connected to the community. I’m removed from reality. And this understanding as cool and trendy as it is. It’s not the gospel. Jesus doesn’t care about how many followers we have on social media or how many subscribes we have to our podcast. But let me tell you something. The gospel that I see that is in scripture that is revealed in Jesus. Christ is a God who chose to live with us. A God who chose to do life with us. A God that promises that, Hey, we are one body we’re called to carry each other’s burden. We’re called to rejoice with those who rejoice weep with those who weep. And I’m sorry, that’s not a, you, you don’t get that.
Pastor Mike (35:55):
We don’t get that yet. We’re not at that kind of technological level yet through just online. All right, ran over back to sermon. Worship is God directed. You see, God is not asking us to sacrifice humans or he is not asking for any kind of special sacrifice or give God is a needed. God is all sufficient, but here’s why we have to worship. And this is something that’s. I just want you to think about this for a moment. Worship is the only reasonable and selfless response to express gratitude for God’s grace in our lives. I’ll say that again. Worship is the only reasonable and selfless response to express gratitude for God’s grace in our lives. It’s more than just words. It’s more to say, I love you, Jesus, cuz you can say, I love you Jesus and, and act completely different. You know what worship is?
Pastor Mike (36:52):
Worship is actually sacrificing your time. It takes time to worship. It’s humbling yourselves. It’s offering your financial gifts and you know what that means. Yes. Worship hurts the wallet, especially when your wallet is in relation to the wrong things and you have the wrong priorities. Worship says, I am teachable. More importantly. Worship says, I cannot do life on my own. I need God. And I need God’s community. You see, this is how we were created to commune with God and each other. This is our soul language. This is the way that God wired us to communicate gratitude. And remember the you in worship. Whenever you see you in the Bible, majority of the time, it’s a plural. You it’s not meant for the individual me. So when we worship God together, we find our identity and this determines all of our activities that follow. Remember how I said that?
Pastor Mike (37:59):
Like, you know, we, we imitate what we worship. Here’s what Paul writes to the church in emphasis features chapter five versus one to two. And then I’m gonna jump to 15 chapter five, verse 15 to 20 imitate God, therefore in everything you do because you are his dear children. See this is your identity. You’re called to imitate God cuz you’re his children live a life filled with love, fallen. The example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God jumped down the verse 15. So be careful how you live.
Pastor Mike (38:38):
Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Yes. The days are evil. No big deal. Okay. Why are we getting all worked up about it? Make the use of every opportunity. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Do you ever ask yourself, like, what does God want me to do? What does God want me to do today? Don’t be drunk with wine because that will ruin your life instead. Be filled with the holy spirit and listen to this again. Singing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and making music to the Lord in your heart and give thanks for everything to God, the father and the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Do you see the connection here? God is trying to tell us something. And he is speaking to us right now who are this?
Pastor Mike (39:40):
Overscheduled distracted, anxious Americans right now, living in Palm beach county somewhere or maybe drove in or Elizabeth somewhere else. He’s speaking to us. You see, we want to be like Jesus, right? I hope so. I wanna be like Jesus. And I hope you wanna be more like Jesus and our faith needs to be integrated into every part of our lives. And it’s more than just memorizing a bunch of rules or some static beliefs. But you know, every day we are confronted with a new discovery. So kind of new learning. Look, we’re seeing like new galaxies out there and we’re confronted with all these things. And you know what the challenge that we have is, or the invitation that we have is not to run away and hide from it. But the question that people are asking is how does your understanding of God fit into this new discovery?
Pastor Mike (40:31):
You know, can you see the kingdom of God at work and all these new things. If you have a static understanding of scripture and, and, and you’re just dogmatic, you’re not up for the task at all. You’re wasting your time and you’re not being a faithful witness to Jesus Christ because Jesus lived with us. Jesus is with us and he is part of our world. I like how James clear says, as he says, knowledge is making the right choice with all the information. Wisdom is making the right choice without all the information, you know, sometimes, you know, we, we, we, we, we don’t have all, all the questions answered. You know, I mean, there are things that are not written in scripture that scripture does not explain. And that’s where we’re called to be a little bit wise and say, okay, where’s the heart of God in this?
Pastor Mike (41:23):
Where where’s the kingdom principles here? How do we adapt? How do we do this? So today what I’m bringing us back to is this. We need to have a sense of belonging and believe it or not singing is part of it. So this is just a generic thing, but steps to increase your sense of belonging. Number one, make an effort, create a sense of belonging takes effort. You actually have to be willing to put yourself out there, be a little bit vulnerable. You actually have to seek out those, those groups, those people, you know, that, that, that have that, that, that Christ-like interest that you care about. That wanna be the Jesus that you want to be like. Okay. So, and then if you are not in town, okay. Cuz I know there’s there. Sometimes family comes in. Sometimes we travel. Sometimes we have to miss our, our gathering.
Pastor Mike (42:17):
Okay. If you’re not in town, here’s what I want to challenge you do. Don’t put worship to the side, go ahead and visit a congregation that most closely aligns with, with your tribe. Go ahead and do that. Or, um, go ahead and use the online option that we offer or wherever your home church is to stay connected with the home church or maybe, you know, try out another church just to broaden yourself, go ahead and do that. But don’t skip worship. Don’t gimme that. Sorry. Excuse anymore. Okay. It’s not good enough. The next thing be patient. Okay. When you come into a new community, it takes time to get acceptance, attention and support for the members. I mean sometimes, I mean, I’m sorry. Sometimes we church, I mean we stink at hospitality, you know, cause we’ve been conditioned as a, as good wholesome Americans to just be concerned about ourselves.
Pastor Mike (43:13):
And we like our friends, we like our, you know, our world, we like our language. We like our culture. And when new people come in, we don’t know how to interact with it. Even though we know we’re supposed to, we have to, I mean, this is a discipline. So I’m asking you to be patient with the churches out there, be patient with our church. And then finally practice acceptance. You gotta be accepting of other people that are different than you focus on. Where, what, what, what are the similarities are the main things or the essentials that bring us together. I’m closing with two parts, um, Hebrews chapter 10 verse 24. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and, and good deeds. Not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the day approaching.
Pastor Mike (44:05):
So when you come into worship, what would it look like? If you didn’t say man, what’s in it for me? Oh, I hope I hear a good message. I hope I get challenged today. I hope I learn some more. I do, but, but what if my motive, when I come into worship is okay, put God first and I’m gonna consider how I can provoke other people around me to actually love and do good deeds. I’d like to be a part of that kind of church. In fact, that’s the kind of church that we are and that’s, that’s the direction we’re going. And if this doesn’t, you know, be to your heartbeat, I’m sure there’s another place that will, there’s lots of places out there, but this is what the gathering place is all about. So here’s the invitation let’s get back to worshiping. Let’s be the church that is a sign of hope. And what God’s kingdom can really look like here in our community, connecting Sunday’s faith with Monday’s work. Someone needs to hear this right now. It’s time to come home.
Hannah Hunter (45:10):
Hey, beautiful people. This is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm beach area, we would love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 1115, for more information about our community and faith. Check out our website at thegatheringplacefl.org. Thanks for
Hannah Hunter (45:34):