John Cornish

What’s the point of a worship service?

In Ministry, Worship on October 26, 2010 at 7:21 pm

So, I heard something on the radio yesterday that blew my mind. There is a local Christian radio station here in DFW that has a talk show every afternoon at 5. It’s hosted by a professor at one of the local Christian colleges. Typically, I really enjoy the show, as it’s generally focused on theological, ecclesiological, and apologetical issues that are extremely relevant and engaging.

Well, yesterday’s topic was dealing with how the church relates to and/or ministers to the world, i.e. those outside the church. It didn’t take long for the subject of music in worship to arise, as it is often at the centerpiece of such discussions. One particular caller was talking about how her church had two worship services: one in both contemporary and traditional styles. She mentioned that she wasn’t sure how she felt about that. In response, the host said something that blew my mind. Now remember, this gentleman is a professor at a fairly well-respected Christian college, as well as a pastor for many years.

His response went something like this (you can actually hear the audio here…it starts about 7:00): “Now, the real issue at the heart of all of this discussion about contemporary vs. traditional music is a fundamental debate about for the worship service is intended. There are really two options here: those who are more traditional say that the primary purpose of the worship service is the edification of the saints. Those on the contemporary side say that the primary purpose is for the evangelization of the lost. So as believers we have to decide which of these two perspectives we agree with.”

I nearly drove off the road. He then proceeded to ask this woman which perspective she agreed with, to which she responded that she believed that the worship service should be geared to the lost. Wow.

The problem here is that BOTH options are absolutely and completely unbiblical, which may be the reason there is so much confusion in the church today. A worship service is supposed to be an opportunity for the people of God to engage in…get this: WORSHIP. Worshiping who? The lost? Each other? NO. We gather to worship GOD.

Granted, evangelism and edification are both wonderful side effects of corporate worship, but we should NEVER design worship with either as the primary goal. No wonder the church is so confused…

  1. Wow! That just blows me away. Glad you didn’t drive off of the road. 🙂

  2. WordPress decided your post and a recent one of mine on music were somehow related, so I clicked, and I’m so glad I did! While some services in church do have other purposes, I’m of the same opinion: worship and communion services should direct us all to God in worship; we should gain our edification from God, and let God regain the lost. Thanks for posting this!

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