I’ve led worship at a huge variety of events and in countless churches right across the denominational spectrum, and there’s one thing I hear constantly that really gets to me every time. It always comes at the start of a service and usually goes something like this:

“Tonight, this is the time to leave your worries behind you. Let’s get rid of all thoughts about what we’ve done this week or what’s ahead next week. Please forget about work and let’s just use this time to focus on God…”

Cue music.

Cue a time to forget about the rest of our whole lives.

Cue an hour to leave our secular persons behind and become a sacred being for that one time this week.

Cue permission to do whatever you like this week so long as you forget it about just in time for next time you’re here.

What’s the point in leaving our lives behind at the door as we step into church? To me, that’s going to breed yet another generation of Sunday Christians. If we forget exactly how we feel, then how is God going to affect and change our every day reality.

Thinking about what’s going on in our lives and focusing on God are not two mutually exclusive things – they should co-exist!

God’s way is different. We don’t want to forget, we want God to transform.

Here’s what I prefer to say:

“Tonight, if you have worries at work, hassles at home, doubts in your mind or hurts in your heart, then this is an opportunity to encounter God in the midst of it. This is a chance to bring all this stuff to God’s throne as part of our worship, and see what He has to say to us, teach us or restore in us. As these things fill up your mind, let’s focus on God…”

Cue music.

Cue a time to allow God to meet with us no matter what shape were in.

Cue an hour of engaging with the Living God which will continue into tomorrow and the next day because He is engaging with our life.

Cue permission to be changed, moulded, shaped, restored and renewed.

When we come to God, He wants ALL of us. Everything.

That means every smile, every song, every prayer, every hope…but it also means every doubt, every worry, every stress and every hurt.

We’re commanded to bring an offering to God when we worship. Sometimes it’s even described as a “sacrifice”. God wants our worship to Him to be the most meaningful thing in the world.

Something that’s real. Something that engages with all our thoughts, emotions and senses. Something that’s in the here and now, but affects our present and future. Something that changes us.