One of the myths in church today is the idea that “If I worshipped longer, I’d worship deeper.” I hear this mantra from people sometimes. “You cannot put a time limit on God” or “I was at this one church where they worshipped for 2 hours and it was incredible.”
I believe both of these observations. Sometimes as a worship leader, I (personally) can become too predictable or structured, which can in turn prohibit the openness to the Spirit’s promptings. However, I do try very hard to be prepared (1 Peter 3:15) ahead of a corporate gathering and to also allow for “flex” in what I originally feel God leading our congregation to do.
I also believe that you cannot put a time limit on God, but I believe that you can put a time limit on a church service. One is dishonoring to the power of God, another is being respectful of your neighbor’s time.
Most times when I hear people talk about time constraints on worship, they want it to go longer. If it isn’t long enough, accusations of “quenching the Spirit” start flying. For many people, it takes a few primer songs before they can really get into it and begin to “feel God”. However, what if instead of waiting to experience God, we used the entire half hour of worshipping through song to really connect with our Creator?
Would that be long enough?
My answer would be, “Of course not!” To be able to experience all that God has for you would be to be experiencing God all the time! At the same time, some people do not want to sing for two hours. Some people just don’t enjoy praising God through the medium of music (especially for a long time!). I definitely do, but that doesn’t mean it is for everyone.
It’s usually at this point in this conversation where the problem is labeled as “the American church and Christians” and wanting everything done “really fast”. I’m sure this plays into it, but most people don’t like to sit and listen for more than 30 minutes to someone talking – even if it is all really, really good. And most people don’t want to stand and sing for an hour – even if the music and experience are really, really good. In our culture, it’s just hard to stay focused for that long. That’s why students in schools move classrooms – we need a change of pace or we disengage.
So maybe the problem isn’t so much the American church, but our own selfish desires to make church services go exactly how we envision them. And maybe worship is more than singing songs for a half an hour on Sunday morning.