Is God Still Glorified If People Don’t Come?

One of the big temptations in youth ministry is to analyze and criticise everything that you do. I have found that I am usually far more critical of the ministry than anyone else, and I think that is probably more appropriate than not. But what I have found that I have to be careful of is for the critical attitude to lead to a sense of control. What I mean by that is that I must be careful not to think that if something goes wrong or isn’t greatly accepted, then it must be because I didn’t do something right. While there may be some room for improvement in ministry, I also have to be sensative to God’s control in the situation.

Recently this has been most played out in our staple event, “Pray ‘n Praise”. This has been happening on the first sunday night of the month for over ten years. it is a time where our youth band plays and you just come for a time of singing and praying with each other. It is a fairly simple thing and doesn’t call for a lot of planning outside of the band.

For over a year now, there has been little to zero interest in this event, which is pretty concerning, because it is the base expression of a Christian. We’ve discussed this at length, wondering if we’re doing it wrong, if we need to advertise it more, if we’re doing it on the wrong night. It comes time for Pray ‘n Praise and each month you hope that what you’ve done has made a difference, and there are still only a few kids there.

It is easy for me to look around and see that it is almost all staff and almost no kids and get very discouraged. I feel like telling the kids, “Hey! WORSHIP GOD!!!” The whole time I’m thinking of things we could do to ignite a passion for worship.

This past month I had a bit of a realization. It isn’t my job to make others worship God. All I can do is preach the Word, provide the opportunity for worship, and step back. I have done what I believe is the wise things in advance and whoever God draws to Himself are those who will worship. Worship cannot be forced on anyone, but God will move in their hearts in His timing.

It is interesting that there is a disconnection when it comes to us (or at least myself) viewing the difference between God’s role in salvation and God’s role in sanctification. Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2, and other texts make it clear that not only does God give us salvation when we weren’t deserving, but He also leads us through the rest of our lives. He has created the good works, and all we have to do is walk in them.

I wouldn’t be nearly as likely to get up after an evangelistic event and be overly frustrated that no one got saved. That’s obviously God’s job, not mine. All I can do is attempt to clearly convey the Gospel, and God draws who are His own to Himself. But I find myself doing exactly this when it comes to Pray ‘n Praise.

I can almost hear God saying to me what Jesus Christ said to Martha, “Tim, Tim, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Those that are at pray ‘n praise have chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from them.” They are here. I have drawn them. They are worshipping. And God is here, now worship Him, yourself.

So I made a decision to not think about was or was not there and rejoice that God had brought me to that place to worship Him.

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6 comments on “Is God Still Glorified If People Don’t Come?

  1. beth says:

    Very true. I also think that praying aloud in groups was very intimidating for me when I was a new believer. Having to do lots of public speaking in other forums made me more comfortable with it too. It may be their age, but even adults have a hard time with it. FBC’s prayer night attendance is always sparce, but God isn’t keeping a tally. The few who do gather and pray together are blessed, and God is glorified even in low numbers.

  2. Bob Hastings says:

    Hmmmm, so should you not consider any changes to the program then? …Just playing devil’s advocate. (ooh, I just realized what a horrible expression that is!).
    I agree with everything you are saying, and most of what Beth is saying (I do think God keeps a tally), but shouldn’t there be a place for “maybe it’s time to change things up a little”? I’m not saying do away with the music time or the prayer time, but maybe the teens need a little help in working through their complacency about this weekly event and maybe a few changes could give you the opportunity to talk about this. I don’t know of many programs that go on for 10 years successfully with no changes. Just food for thought.

  3. ehudadams says:

    yeah, we have switched up a few things. I noticed how it was difficult to keep a really sense of worship, as people would start wrestling and goofing off right after. We’ve done some things to make the youth center a place solely reserved for worship. If you want to goof off, you can go outside (its in the 70’s here 🙂 ). We’ve also made a prayer box and put it out so people can share prayer requests with the whole group.

    As far as stirring in their hearts a deeper desire to worship, we’re going to dedicate out Leadership Retreat this year to the subject of Prayer. Each year we cover a different spiritual discipline. Last year it was evangelism, this year it will be prayer. I’ve sat down and talked with the kids about it and shared my concerns, but they didn’t have much to say.

    But we’ll continue to proclaim a majestic Christ and a holy God who is worthy of our praise, and Lord willing (a better expression) He will stir up a passion for Him in their hearts!

  4. BethsMomToo says:

    “And the LORD’S SERVANT must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. GOD may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…” 2Tim.2:24-25

    Your post made me think of this passage, which has similarities to your subject. It’s really a combination of the servant of God serving with the right attitude & in the right manner and God bringing forth the results…I don’t see any emphasis here on “methods”. When it comes to “methods”, I think we have choices, but we have to be very careful not to treat the “methods” as being the moving force. According to Scripture, the focus of ministry is on “the Lord’s servant” serving humbly and “God” changing the hearts.

  5. Bob Hastings says:

    Hi again,

    Wanted to clarify something. I hope I didn’t come accross as placing too much importance on methods. I would never think that they would be what changes people, moves people, or causes people to be closer to God, etc.
    My comments were simply practical in nature about my thoughts pertaining to the experience I had with youth for years and how if we did not make changes from time to time the youth would eventually become less interested. (particularly in the later years…juniors and seniors) This was not necessarily a reflection of their spiritual condition, but because they are teens and sometimes need change to help stimulate their active and changing minds.
    I agree with your mom, methods are never the moving force. Spiritual awakening or growth does not come from methods, man or means, but only from God himself and people who are willing to submit to Him.
    One of the reasons I normally refrain from posting comments on blogs is that it is so easy to post a comment about your thoughts in a particular area about what has been written, but someone else might read your thoughts and think that your comments are intended in a particular way………you know what I mean. In conversation, this rarely happens because you can quickly clarify your intentions with someone. Oh well, I guess this is a drawback that we have to live with in this arena.
    In the end, if my viewpoint appeared to be focused on methods I apologize.
    I do enjoy reading your blog, Tim. The Lord has blessed you with a wonderful education and experience in California. What a joy to see you using all that God has given you for His glory. Praying for you.

  6. BethsMomToo says:

    Hey Bob,

    I really wasn’t focusing on you in particular. I like to think things through and that passage happened to come to mind. I was just thinking about the topic in general and trying to encourage Tim’s recent insight, which I thought was good. I’m glad to see you commenting. It’s nice to have an extra voice here! Keep it up.

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