God told the prophet Amos, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. . . Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:21, 23-24). God is saying to every generation, “It’s not the song or the sound that I seek from you. It’s the righteousness that flows from your worship and the deeds it stirs you to do in My name.”
We can no longer measure a song’s power by its entertainment value or any other manmade standard. We measure it by whether it calls forth what the Holy Spirit wants for His Body in that moment. Our worship is to be an everflowing stream of His righteous presence. Thus, we dare not allow on stage those “who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp . . . who . . . anoint themselves with the finest oils” (Amos 6:5-6). This speaks of leaders we anoint based solely on their talent, skill, and cleverness. God is calling us to clear the stage of any standard other than this: “Surely you are in this place, O God!”
I speak to myself when I say to all pastors, “Do we place more confidence in strategies, structures and programs than in God’s leading? If so, we need to clear the stage of such things.”
Churches may have all the makings of a dynamic body. We may make sure every sermon is tightly articulated, every song perfectly tuned, every espresso machine filling people’s cups — but it’s all worthless if God’s presence is nowhere to be found.
It is time to discard surveys that ask people what they want from church rather than asking what God wants. If surveys dictate our direction, we may as well take down our sign that reads CHURCH because we won’t be one. We’ll be a professional organization that seeks success based on market demands. And that’s not the gospel!