Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Let me start out by saying that I have nothing against worshipping God in song, nor do I have any particular beef with any group of people who love to spend hours and hours singing songs to God in arenas packed with thousands of people. There's nothing wrong with gathering together to worship God in song. Nothing at all.

What I do have a problem with is the idea that if I spend hours and hours in God's presence worshipping Him in song that I will somehow be transformed into a more devoted follower of Jesus. It's a lie.

The only thing that will make me a more devoted follower of Jesus is simply to obey His teachings in my everyday life.

Jesus was pretty clear on the idea that if you love him you will do what he says. Obedience, according to Jesus, is the best measure of whether or not (and how much) you actually love him.

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching...he who does not love me will not obey my teaching." – JESUS (John 14:23-24)

So, when I see a worship conference with the name "One Thing" being advertised it sort of irks me because the suggestion is that this is the one thing we are called to do as followers of Jesus. Yes, we are expected to worship but what does that look like?

According to Romans 12 our "spiritual act of worship" involves becoming a "living sacrifice" where our entire lives are surrendered to Jesus, not just our lips.

I can find two places in the New Testament where the phrase "One Thing" is used; once by Jesus and once by Paul.

Jesus uses it when he tells the Rich Young Ruler that there is "one thing" he lacks and instructs him to sell all he has and give it to the poor and follow Jesus. In that case the "One Thing" was a heart of compassion for the poor and a willingness to surrender everything for the sake of Christ.

Paul uses the phrase in Galatians 2:10 when he reports that the "One thing" that Peter and the other Apostles expected of him was to remember the poor. It was also the "one thing" he was most eager to do.

Service and worship are linked together in Scripture. Worship is more than singing songs and crying and jumping up and down to declare with your lips that God is good. It's also, Biblically, about surrendering your whole life to God (Romans 12), and about caring for the poor (Amos 5, Isaiah 58, James 2:14, 1 John 3:17-18, etc.), and about obedience to God and to Jesus' words (John 14:15; Matthew 7:24, etc.)

So, while I applaud the idea of gathering to throw ourselves into hours of singing songs of devotion to God, (and I really do), I also want us to remember that the kind of worship God is seeking asks more of us than a few hours of song. He asks us for our whole life, and he wants that life to be surrendered to him in obedience, and he wants that life to be spent on the poor and the needy.

Jesus and Paul both agree that "One Thing" is needed, and that's a heart for the poor and a desire to please God through our obedient hearts.



chuck said...

The one thing scripture that you are looking for is Psalm 27:4 "One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple."

It is David wanting to spend time with God. Really not a bad thing. He (David) wanted to spend time with God in prayer, in the Tabernacle. It is a heart position.

From the position of worship, prayer and fasting we better prepare ourselves for the practical ministry.

That scripture is the basis of the Onething ministry. The ministry is much more than a gathering of people for worship songs.

You have to admit though that if more Christians truly worshiped God, and with wholeheartedness, we would see a different face on Christianity. A face that wanted to serve out of love for our Savior, and not out of duty.


Keith Giles said...

Chuck- thanks for the comment. I'm aware of the OT reference for the ONETHING conferences, and I don't disagree with the idea of loving God so much you want to spend hours worshipping Him. Again, seriously, that's a wonderful thing.

What I'm commenting on is more the people I know who lean in this direction and are specifically enamored with this ministry and Mike Bickle's church, etc. (and again, I'm not slamming Mike or his church or their worship conference ministry here, only commenting on the false assumptions some who attend these events have developed).

I agree with you that "if more Christians truly worshipped God and with wholeheartedness, we would see a different face on Christianity"...and it WOULD be great, I agree, but sadly it's not the case.

Why? First, I believe because there's not an emphasis on what Jesus defines as "worship" and on what Paul describes as "worship" (which is a life surrendered to God and devoted to following the example of Jesus in an everyday lifestyle of obedience).

Secondly because people are left with the idea that if they spend hours in an emotional state of worship they will somehow eventually become more "Christian" or spritual or like Jesus and that is simply not the case.

It's not the case according to Scripture, and it's not the case according to the evidence of the people who are addicted to these types of worship events.

I used to work for Vineyard Music Group and I've met the worship groupies who ran from worship conference to worship conference expecting that this would help make them better followers and lovers of God. Sadly it is not what happens. The fruit of this is not more loving and sincere and devoted followers of Jesus.

This is not to say that someone who is fully in love with Jesus might not be attracted to these events and be blessed by worshipping for hours at a conference. Of course they would.

I'm simply arguing for getting the horse and the cart lined up in the proper, Biblical, order for the purpose of allowing the people of God to get the most out of their walk with Jesus.

I really don't intend to attack or to slam the ministry of Mike Bickle or their church or the OneThing Worship Conference specifically. I only hope to provide a better Biblical context for what worship is according to Jesus and to Paul and to James and to John and to Peter, etc. and to help people to avoid confusion about this subject.


chuck said...

I get what you are saying. I have seen similar fruit or a lack there of, from people who conference hop. BTW, no offense taken.

I am not too sure of it is a sign of the times, or if we are on the cusp of the end times (seems like the latter more and more everyday), but I am reminded of two scriptures when I think of conference hoppers.

Daniel 12:4
But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.

2Timothy 3:1-7
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that the conferences are to blame. It is more of an expectancy that some people have as if God will zap them and their lives will be supernaturally changed in a moment without any real work on their part.

On a side note, I was part of the International House of Prayer. I have worked every conference offered there, including onething. I have seen people being touched by God in a real way, and I have seen people get nothing out of it. I guess what it comes down to is our heart position with God. That is something that no conference (or worship gathering) can do for you.

Nothing beats reading the Word...


Michael O'Neill Burns said...

great post. i've always felt like conferences such as the 'one day' conference, and many of the other 'passion' conferences, really miss the point. if an entire generation of christians gathers together i think there are better things to do than a) sing songs that mostly deal with 'me' and 'my' relationship with God and b)hear messages that basically enforce the status quo and encourage us to continue the course of our lives as normal with the reminder that God is okay with us living to the standards of worldly success.

I have gotten some slack for a critique like this from friends who have attended and helped plan the conferences; but after listening to talks from them (which are available online) and reading accounts of them, I think the critique stands.

I wonder what it would like if instead of thousands of young people gathering in a stadium to sing songs for a day, they took to the streets and for one day brought food and care to the needy; to me that would seem much more useful, and would be even more like true (biblical) worship, which is always close to justice.

chuck said...

First, don't take this a slam towards your comment. I am in no way trying to critique your critique. I just want to share some info with you. :)

I don't know where you got your information from, but the onething conference is much more than a worship gathering. At all IHOP KC(International House of Prayer, Kansas City)conferences there are break out sessions where staff from IHOP, FSM(Forerunner School of Ministry) along with other ministries speaking on topics like,

Drawing Near to God

Contending Earnestly for the Faith

The Daniel Lifestyle

How Jesus Redeems Our Brokenness (An honest talk on sexual addictions and healing from it. There's a hot topic in church today)

Fasted Lifestyle

and Affection Based Obedience

As you can see there really isn't anything status quo or normal about these topics. The message from IHOP is that of radical obedience to Jesus.

It is good to add that every conference there is an offering taken that is given to the poor in whatever city they are in. These offerings are generally tens of thousands of dollars. That doesn't even include the work done daily by the School of Evangelism or the many outreaches to children and the poor. The key to all of these ministries, in fact, to all successful ministry is; loving God with all our hearts, mind and soul, and to love others as ourselves.

Mark 12:30-31
30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Looking at Mary and Martha we see both in play. Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet and told her.

Luke 10:41
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

I may be reading into this a bit, but what I notice is that Jesus is not saying that what Martha is doing is bad, but He is saying to get the horse before the cart. Loving God is the first commandment. Loving others follows. Intimacy with God fuels and sustains missions.

Four words sum this up:
Love God, love others.