I got to see James Taylor a few months back and, as always with James Taylor, it was a great show. The man may be 63 but he can still rock. Thousands were there enjoying the beautiful night; they were out to have fun, and fun they had.
As Taylor broke into "Sweet Baby James," the woman to my left sprung to her feet, put her hands in the air, closed her eyes, and with a smile on her face sang along.
As I watched her in a moment of James Taylor Joy, I couldn't help but think of some of the worship services I have been to where I have seen similar looking women and men with the same expression, the same hands waved in the hair, and the same joy as they sung along.
After these worship services I have heard people as they left saying things like "worship tonight was awesome," or "now that was worship." This is all very similar to some of the things I heard as I was leaving the James Taylor show that night, "James was awesome tonight," and "now that was a concert."
So what is the difference between the James Taylor concert and Christian Worship?
Now I am not suggesting that people who hold their hands up in worship services are disingenuous, but if Christian worship is limited to singing along, with your eyes closed, and your hands raised, then why not go to a James Taylor concert?
In recent years, I have noticed a trend in the church to put an emphasis on giving people a great experience when they are in worship services rather than urging them to live Godly lives.
My prayer for First Baptist is that we would measure the success of our worship services not on what people do when they are in the service, but rather on how they live when they are not in the service.
Too many of our churches have bought into the lie that successful worship means feel good entertainment. I don't want people coming to our worship services to feel good about themselves, but rather to feel good about the God they serve and the Savior who loves them.
As we learn to turn our focus away from seeking our own pleasures to seeking the pleasure of God, then and only then will we find true worship, and true joy.
Let us encourage one another daily to live out worship as we learn and follow the will of our Lord. For the sake of his Kingdom, for the Glory of his name. Amen.
Jason Dees is senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Covington. He can be reached at 770-786-9031 or www.firstbaptistcovington.com or www.facebook.com/jasondees.