I heard a great story in chapel at seminary today that really has me thinking. The more time I spend studying Biblical worship and thinking about God’s priorities for the church, the more I am beginning to think that we’ve really wandered away from what God wants us to do and be. I love the church, and I love God’s people, but I wonder if we are so busy trying to be relevant and passionate that we’re simply missing the point.
The preacher in chapel today relayed the story (I can’t verify its authenticity, but it makes a good point nonetheless) of a minister who was serving in a very old church. On the pulpit was an old metal ring. One Sunday, the minister asked the congregation if they knew what the ring actually was. He went on to explain that the ring was actually an hourglass holder that was donated from the people to a former minister. The minister went on to share that in those days the people generally allowed the minister one to two full turns of the hourglass per sermon! When he said this, a woman in the congregation audibly gasped. “But when would we worship?” she cried.
I don’t think our mindset is all too different these days. We’ve unintentionally equated music to worship and true biblical preaching to a drudgery that we must sit through in order to get back to more music. Unfortunately, churches are compromising in this area to the point where the preaching of God’s word becoming nothing more that a sidebar in the “worship experience.” And what preaching there is seems to be gravitating more and more to what is being popularly called “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” the “God is here to help me be a better person, have my best life now, and that’s about all I need Him for” view of religion. We fear proclaiming the truth of the Gospel for fear that someone might be uncomfortable and not want to come back.
Any pattern of worship that does not have as its center the Word of God cannot be worship. Or rather, it cannot be worship of God. Sure, it can be worship of music, songs, lighting, ourselves, etc., but it isn’t the worship of God. I hope it isn’t too late to turn these trends around. Young people and teens are dropping out of church at an alarming rate, and who can blame them? We aren’t focusing on that which is truly life-changing: the living and active Word of God, which is capable of changing lives.
God grant that our churches would see the importance of the proclamation of God’s Word and the gospel in the worship service, for I fear that if we continue on our current path we are heading towards a Christianity that is too busy “worshiping” to care about what really matters.