Worship: Why Your Church Is Failing And What You Can Do About It
Can I worship God any way I want to?
Does church leadership have biblical authority to design a worship service anyway they think is best?
Judging by the state of worship in the American Evangelical church, the answer is Yes to both questions. And boy do we ever take this permission seriously!
It would appear that singing is what is required if you want to worship God corporately as the Body of Christ. So, if you are not good at it, or don’t really like doing it, you better change your attitude. Flashing light trees, great sound systems, fog machines, stunning visuals and the best possible rock band a church can put together are all utilized to help us sing more.
I’ve been to over 40 churches in the past 6 years and have observed this “worship is singing” idea put into practice. I hate to say it, but if this IS what it means to worship, the Church at large is doing a very pathetic job of worshipping God.
Nothing personal here. I am just stating the facts as I have observed them.
What I see in congregation after congregation is this: The worship team sings their hearts out. The congregation doesn’t. Most people are not engaged. They stand, out of respect. They may even make a half-hearted attempt at mumbling through the words. But 75-80% of the congregation is not passionately pouring out their hearts to God in song. Don’t believe me? Sit in the back row this week, and observe how many people won’t sing.
There is a danger in this over emphasis of “worship is a SONG so everyone sing along” concept of worship. People start to equate the worship of God with music and/or singing. We may falsely believe that by mumbling through a chorus we are truly worshipping the Savior. We can end up doing the very thing God lamented about in IS. 29:13
“The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…”
The trouble with our modern view of worship is that scripture and church history never come to the same conclusion that the modern church has arrived at.
What we do see clearly in scripture is that worship is a life well lived. According to Romans 12:1-2, it is ones life laid down. Worship is actively saying “NO!” It is resisting the call of the world and the desires of our flesh. It is actively saying “YES!” to God and His invitation to become like His Son, moment by moment and day by day.
In the third century, Origen summed up the early churches idea of authentic worship this way:
“The honor that we pay to the Son of God, as well as that which we render to God the Father, consists of an upright course of life. This is plainly taught us by the passage, “You that boast of the Law, through breaking the Law dishonor God.”…For if he who transgresses the law dishonors God by his transgression,…it is evident that he who keeps the law honors God. So the worshipper of God is he whose life is regulated by the principles and teachings of the Divine Word.” Origen c .248 AD
We got rid of them because we thought they were dead rituals
In my opinion, the modern church would serve God’s people better if they began to embrace this concept of what it means to worship God. Corporately, that would involve singing less and bringing back elements of corporate worship that the church has embraced since the first century: communion, confession of sin, extended readings of scripture, prayer, reciting the creeds etc. The church has always believed these elements encourage and strengthen believers to say no to the world and yes to God in our day-to-day routine. But we jettisoned them long ago to make more time for a worship band. We got rid of them because we thought they were dead rituals and because singing songs had so much more potential to facilitate true worship. I think the experiment has run its course and it is time to bring these elements back.
This is more than an academic exercise. The church is in trouble.
Young people are making a mass exodus from her. Non-Christian complaints about Christians are becoming more and more based upon reality. In large numbers we don’t practice what we sing. We don’t take the call of Christ seriously. We don’t embrace God’s invitation to become like His Son and make the personal choices that help us along that path. I think we actively “honor (God) with (our) lips, but (our) hearts are far from (Him)…”
Food for Thought: Does our emphasis on worship as a song lies at the very heart of Christianity’s decline?
It has been said that we become what we worship. While that is true, I also think how we worship affects who we become. The more I consider the decline of the American Church, the more I think a deeply rooted cause of the decline is this sellout we made on worship is a song. That is why I am so passionate about this topic.
Do you think the emphasis on singing as worship has weakened or strengthened the church? What do you think of the idea of singing less and incorporating these other elements into our corporate gatherings?
If you are a pastor, worship leader or are involved in church leadership, I encourage you to seriously consider what you are doing. Ask yourself the hard questions: Is our corporate worship service as effective as it can be in helping our people live a life of true worship OUTSIDE the service? Sit in the back row this week and observe what happens. If you are not involved in church leadership or worship and would like to see the church you love move in the direction advised here, go talk to leadership. In love, share your concerns. If enough people do, perhaps change will happen.
Posted on May 7, 2014, in Christianity, Church Leadership, Contemporary Church Culture, Worship and tagged christianity, communion, early church history, Eastern Orthodox, El cristianismo, entertainment, faith, family, God, inspiration, leadership, Life, music, spirituality, worship, Worship Leading. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.