Every church should have a track and field starting gun. I’m serious. Along with the Bible and the offering trays, the pastor should be ready to whip out the gun and use it at a moment’s notice.
Think about it. People come into church worship services to encounter God. They come in fragmented, distracted, but anticipating some new teaching or experience. The music begins, and the worship starts flowing from the music into announcements, then offerings, communion, prayer and sermon. God does show up. People worship. God pours out blessings, insights and direction. The people of God unite, ready to follow God. Then the pastor whips out the gun, starts the benediction and fires the shot after the “amen.”
The people of God then rush out into our deeply fractured world to transform it in the power of the Spirit, bringing hope and healing along with the good news. Joy explodes. Love invades. God’s people take the worship, the blessings of God they’ve received, and give it away.
Worship transforms us, and then we transform the world.
Worship realigns us.
Worship gives us the energy to follow God.
Worship is the catalyst for action.
This is the vision of Not For Sale’s Freedom Sunday campaign. What is the best way to defeat the evil driving modern-day slavery? Worship. Not sit-in-the-church-and-soak-it-up worship; not singing-in-the-car-on-the-way-to-the-mall worship; but hope-infused, prayer-filled, smart activism worship.
Isaiah understood this. In Isaiah 58, the prophet chastises the people for separating righteous living from a life of worship. He redefines for the people what true fasting, true worship, really includes: prayer and feeding the hungry; denying our desires and setting others free; caring for the homeless, the wounded, the lonely and the poor, and receiving God’s blessings.