So what do I mean by worshiping Jesus and emphasizing Jesus? The answer is painfully practical and somewhat obvious, but you may discover something new when you give it a look.
Lemonade is a good illustration. How do you make lemonade? It’s obvious, right? Well someone did, in fact, write it down for the first time in a southern cookbook in 1824. That’s a pretty short recipe. “Lemons, water, sugar.”
But revisiting this obvious recipe has helped us discover new ways to make it better such as using a simple syrup instead of sugar or adding in another fruit like key lime.
So, at the risk of being painfully practical, hoping you’ll think of something new, let me give you a few ideas on worshiping and emphasizing Jesus that we have implemented at our revitalizing church - Griggs Memorial.
Let People Be Conformed to Jesus
Jesus makes people. So let people be who they’re made to be. Of course, I’m not talking about walking in sin. I’m talking about allowing people to come to church without checking their personality at the door.
We know that there is no spoken pressure, but we also hope there is no unspoken pressure in our church to conform to any one personality by the way you socialize or dress. We’re solely worried about conforming to the image of God’s Son, Jesus.
Pray in the Name of Jesus
Jesus said, “Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will do it.”
“In Jesus' name, Amen” are therefore some of the most important words spoken in a church service.
The significance of praying in Jesus' name needs to be continuously repeated. We get to go to the Father and ask confidently for things with Jesus’ approval. Obviously, this changes our culture of corporate prayer.
Jesus' name is holy, so we should only pray in his name for holy things. Jesus' name is above all names, and not to be taken in vain, and thus we should only pray what we really mean, and really mean what we pray, so we don’t break the third commandment. And if we’re confident enough in a prayer to put Jesus’ very name on it, then the listeners must pay close attention and agree in their heart as if the whole group is approaching the throne.
Publicly Read About Jesus
Apostle Paul told Pastor Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of scripture, so we always make sure to read a passage during our services. However, we recently made the decision that at least once during every service we will read a passage from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John to ensure Jesus life, teaching, death, and resurrection is given it’s much deserved time in of our gatherings.
Sing Songs About Jesus
I was in Bible college during the years of 2006-2010. During those years, it seems that the raging debate was over what we were to sing when gathered as the church.
Arguments about what instruments, what technology, and what songwriters we should use ensued. I definitely took part.
When it comes to revitalizing, this type of debate may come back up as folks may ask, “Should we change the style of music we play?”
My answer is, “No.”
In my experience, those of us in the South especially, put way to much stock in style. No one should be attending any church solely because they like the style of the music. You’ll never get that idea from the New Testament.
Whether you’re old school or modern, keep the style. The shift you need to make is lyrical.
If it’s clearly centered on Jesus and full of doctrine or is full of truth meant to be sung to Jesus, sing it. Then, sing it again.
If it’s in anyway man-centered, vague, or lacking doctrine, don’t sing it.
Talk About Jesus
We have service on Sunday morning and Sunday evening. On Sunday nights we always have a time for anyone in the audience to share a story of how Jesus saved them, helped them or blessed them. There are weeks where no-one feels led to share, but there are weeks that are packed with personal stories about Jesus that encourage the whole body.
When I first started pastoring Griggs, I went straight to the book of Mark. If you’re starting to revitalize, I recommend teaching through one of the gospels, the book of Mark being my top recommendation. The book of Mark is simple. The book tells story after story about Jesus life, one right after another, quickly and succinctly. It took us a little over a year to get through the entire book. What an awesome way to spend a year.
Always preach Jesus no matter what the topic or book of the Bible you’re in. We need to be preaching messages that are strictly Jesus-focused. No Christian preaching in this era should be strictly moral. Thou shalt not covet could be preached in a synagogue. We need to preach sermons that are so Jesus-saturated they wouldn’t be allowed in any temple, mosque, etc. Thou shalt not covet because Jesus, through his saving death and resurrection, has provided for your greatest need.
Revitalize for Jesus
We’ve been revitalizing for two years and, by God's grace, we've been able to bear some fruit. We've baptized 15 people, added about 40 new members and have added a handful of new leaders.
In another sense, not a whole lot has changed about our church. We kept many of the same traditions. But a slight shift made a huge difference for us, and that shift was a laser focus specifically on Jesus in everything we do.
However, there's something very important to note. We shouldn't emphasize Jesus for the purpose of revitalization, like it's a growth strategy. We should look to emphasize Jesus because we're so grateful to him. I think he's the one who does the revitalizing when our hearts are truly his.
We have choices to make and a part to play in revitalization too. But even when we are active agents in the revitalization of our churches, the goal should never be to return to our former glory. Who cares about our glory? Our motivation for revitalization should be simply that more people worship and emphasize Jesus. It's all for him.