Spirit and Truth: What happens when worship leaves the building?

courtney mcbath worship Aug 24, 2020

     In a post-coronavirus world, what does it look like to love God’s house like the psalmist in Psalm 122:1?

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

     Or how do we apply the words of Hebrews 10:24-25?

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

     It’s important to note that those who framed these words didn’t have a huge weekend service, and neither do many of our brothers and sisters around the world. Is it possible that we have idolized weekend worship and made the gathering more important than the God we are worshipping when we gather? Historically, in every great crisis God was revealing to humans what “was not God.” Money, security, property and now maybe even our public worship services are being exposed as what is not God.

     Consider the words of so many of us. “I miss worship time.” “I can’t wait until we get back to regular weekend worship?”

     As leaders, have we framed worship as what we do on weekends or mid-week or whenever we meet at the church? When we pray at home, we don’t call it a worship service even though true worship is happening. When we go to church, we always refer to it as a worship service even though it may not be.

     If we but peruse the passage where our Lord corrects the Samaritan woman in her theology of worship, it speaks to us.

Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem. “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:20-24).

     This woman, like most, framed worship as a place and time. Our Lord defined worship as an act of the heart (spirit) and truth. Could it be that two thousand years later we are still standing at a post pandemic well arguing with Jesus about the “place and time” of worship?

     Jesus is clear. The understanding and advent of worship was not for a future time.... the time is coming and now is! The true worshippers are not a cult or narrow group of believers who are the only ones that truly worship. It is the smoke that makes it beyond the veil of religion into the secret place where He dwells!

     Leaders understand that worship, because it is from the heart, can never be limited to a place. A Jerusalem mountain, a Samaritan hill or a weekend gathering. May we never again feel that church is closed or that worship is abated because there was no weekend gathering.

     Leaders are constantly learning and it’s possible that we had to spend time at home because God was teaching us what worship truly is.


This article was extracted from Issue 2 (Summer 2020) of the AVAIL Journal. Claim your free annual subscription here.



This article was written by Courtney McBath



Courtney McBath is the Senior Founding Pastor of Calvary Revival Church (CRC) in Norfolk, Virginia. He also serves as the leader and founder of Calvary Leadership Network, a group of pastors and leaders serving the church globally. He is a teacher, mentor, coach and a global pastor.


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