Tuesday 9 March 2010

What is Worship?

This question may seem like a ‘no-brainer’ to most people and it may be the kind of question which is never asked but just simply assumed. However, do we need to ask this question again for the 21st century church?
Recently I was invited to two different services in the same day and after returning from the evening service, a relative commented to me, that he could see on my face that I had enjoyed the evening service: my countenance was obviously different and he could see that. I remarked; “to be honest, you could say that what I have witnessed today, actually represents two different religions!” Yet, both would claim the name Christian, so what was the difference?

In the service in the morning the first thing that struck me as I entered a hired hall with about 300 people and a bustling atmosphere, was the noticeable lack of Bibles. I seemed to be about the only person carrying a Bible to ‘church’ and there were no church Bibles available either. The service commenced in a very casual way with a very professional music team, power point etc. There was almost no reading of Scripture, the majority of the time was spent singing emotional ‘trendy’, supposedly worship songs and the preaching was short and in fact was not preaching. The message was more like a positive pick-me-up for Christians where the Bible was nothing more than a promise box. However this did not seem to worry the congregation. They responded most enthusiastically with more singing, hands raised and then a hot cup of tea/coffee.

This service left me bewildered with many questions and the words of Jesus to the woman at the well sprang to mind: "You worship what you do not know (John 4:22)”.
In the evening I attended a church service that I suppose the morning crowd would consider ‘non-contemporary’, traditional or even boring and out of touch. On a different note I do find that the word ‘contemporary’ is a greatly misused term in evangelicalism, it is often used as a smoke screen to introduce unbiblical worship practices in the name of being relevant. Our aim is not to be traditional or contemporary but rather biblical.

This service began with a clear call to worship based on Psalm 124:8, everything was saturated with Scripture, including Bible readings, the singing of Psalms, the occasional hymn and we sang the Apostles’ Creed. There was a clear order to what we were doing and everything was conducted in a dignified way with a sense of the fear and awe of the God that we worshipped. Needless to say the high point of this worship was a 40 minute exposition of a passage from Luke that was Christ honouring, effectively explained, and it left us contemplating the majesty and beauty of God (not man or what God wants to do for man). Jesus said, “we worship what we know Jn 4:22)”.

Once again I ask the question ‘what is worship?’Hopefully you will see that this question is absolutely a ‘contemporary’ issue and if God permits, I would like to answer that question from the Bible on the next blog. Perhaps this article has most probably highlighted ‘what worship is not’.

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