“Disappointment comes from unmet expectations.” This is one of the most profound truths I have learned, and I have yet to find a situation in which it is not true. Why do people disappoint us? Simply stated, they do not do what we expect them to do or act according to our preconceived notions of how they ought to act. The same is true in terms of the church. Why are we disappointed in our local church(es)? We find ourselves disappointed because of unmet expectations. That is the simple, straightforward reality of why we are disappointed. The more pertinent issue is whether our expectations are, in fact, biblical.
I learned this lesson more than fifteen years ago when I became disenchanted with my church. “Why are there so many disagreements? Why are people not taking spiritual matters seriously? Why do I not feel more engaged in church life, the worship service, etc.?” Asking such questions was certainly not wrong on my part – those questions were (and remain!) legitimate and relevant.
But the problem was not what the church did or did not do to meet my expectations. The problem was more internal than external, more me than them: “Because the church is not meeting my expectations, this person has / these people have failed me.” When I became aware of my own thinking, things changed. I began examining my questions, felt needs, entitlements, etc. to see if they lined up with Scripture.
Most (nearly all?) of my expectations did not. They were the product of personal experiences (e.g., previous churches), the surrounding culture, and the common expectations among other churchgoers I knew. In other words, they were man-based / man-centered rather than God-ordained / God-centered. Nowhere was this more apparent to me than with worship. I was more concerned about worship and whatever I was supposed to “get from it” than I was about God (and what he does for us and receives from us in worship). My eyes were fixed on myself, not on the Lord.
What do you expect in worship? If you find yourself disappointed week after week, then I urge you to reflect upon your expectations before the next corporate worship service. Hopefully, you will find the same thing I did: disappointment in worship comes from man-centered expectations. The following article will clarify how too many professing Christians wrongfully approach worship:
Rather than worshiping our worship, feelings, experiences, etc., let us repent of our expectations and instead place our faith in God’s promises about worship. If our hearts, souls, minds, and wills are focused on him and his revealed will, he will never disappoint us because he is always faithful to do and to give what he has promised to those who love him.