Worship Is a Sermon/Sermon is Worship…Church Shopping
Note – Keep your comments to yourself.
I really appreciate this article about worship on The Paperthin Hymn. The article is titled “Worship is a Sermon/ The Sermon is Worship.”
I especially appreciate this part:
When we worship, we are saying things about the Lord. We are teaching, rebuking, professing, declaring, correcting and confessing based on the revelation of God in Christ as revealed in his word. That is the function that our praise and worship lyrics have. Paul says that we ought to teach each other the words of Christ using hymns and spiritual songs- the intent being that this is how the words of Christ will dwell richly in us. That is how we will know more about God, and how we will know more about the words of Christ and how he works through his words. That is a sermon.That is preaching.So when we listen and sing lyrics, we need to ask ourselves “what are we teaching others? What sorts of things are we expounding upon? Are we accurately reflecting God’s character? Are we accurately teaching the words of Christ? Are we teaching the scriptures?” We also ought to ask ourselves if we are preaching deep, thoughtful sermons through our music, or if we are singing light, breezy, unclear, muddled, mindless, vague sermons?
I wanna sit at your feet
Drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breathe, feel your heart beat
That is profoundly different than
Blest is the man, forever blest,
Whose guilt is pardoned by his God;
Whose sins with sorrow are confessed,
And covered with his Savior’s blood.
Which of those sermons do you prefer? Because the latter is a far cry from the modern notions of worship, [the former] the bulk of which is incessantly vapid and whose function within an ecclesial setting is to get people riled up on an emotional high; which they then mistake for a spiritual experience, which they can then feed off of the rest of the week, nourishing on and being sustained by the vapors of their own emotional delirium until the next Sunday.
Thinking out loud, so my true opinions may vary to what I write below:
Today, I didn’t go to church. Didn’t want to. Didn’t feel like it. Wasn’t “led by the Lord” to do so. Increasingly I have to ask out loud what purpose church serves in the Christian life, because as church is looking in the 21st century, it is increasingly irrelevant. Now, before you get all concerned at my apostasy, or feel the need to “encourage” or “fix” me in any way, I’m entirely dedicated to the biblical model and notion of church. A group of believers living in community (defined more as “friendship”, so minus the commune and creepy “everyone is somehow related to the pastor” aspects) who regularly gather to worship God, administer the sacraments, and study the Bible together is a beautiful, wonderful, body of Christ thing. Yet that is all but dead in the 21st century it seems.
When it comes to church related things, increasingly God is teaching me to keep my mouth shut and just let things go. I’ve learned more about grace in the last year than I ever expected to learn in my life. And on the great confessional that is the Internet, I feel free enough to admit a large part of that is female related. Girls tend not to like when you speak bad about something they like. Even here on my own blog, I’m tempted to self-censor instead of being honest and listening to the guidance of the Spirit. But since one of the things I’ve been working on defeating in my life in the last year is the fear of man (and women), then honestly prevails.
I’m hard on the church. Yet I also love the church and want to see it improve and to see my friends not hurt themselves. No one today is willing to use their brain and rationally think through things. No one studies history. No studies theology. No one studies the Bible. Everyone is relentlessly positive and anti-antagonistic. That’s not to say most people should be the exact opposite, and I know some consider me the most negative person they know, but the goal as always is balance, to be realistic, to be knowledgable, wise, discerning. It would surprise many to find out that I believe exactly like they do; I just take things a little more seriously.
So regarding that blog article above. Can you see the difference between the two worship styles? Let’s say I move to a town where there is only one church. If that church follows the “jesus-pop/jesus-is-my-cosmic-boyfriend” style of worship and preaching, then I will stop going to church. Period. With no guilt at all, because my Shepherd provides in other ways. And increasingly, the Minneapolis area is starting to feel like that. I’ve made no secret that I’m looking for a new church to attend, but I’ve known from the start that factors other than myself will be involved in my ultimate decision to attend somewhere (which I will, because I have a deep desire to be involved and to serve). One church has some pretty good people and worship, but the sermons suck or the pastor comes across as untrustworthy. Another church is skewed theologically but has some truly deep, mature Christians attending. And yet another has great worship, great preaching and a great pastor, but the average age fo the congregation is over fifty years old.
To avoid your concern, just know that I’m still looking for a church and constantly redefining what is truly important in a church. At this time, I’m growing, I’m learning, and I’m worshipping in multiple locations. And God does not condemn me for it, no matter what man may say. I do not plan on joining a church any time soon, nor do I plan on making regular Sunday attendance mandatory. I have enough law in my life, don’t need to add another rule to it. And obviously I realize there is no such thing as a perfect church. But there is a church God will lead me to, in His timing.
In the meantime, welcome to the post-evangelical wilderness. There are many of us here, we are growing, and it’s probably your fault (lol).
And since on Sundays I watch House, here is a gratuitous Olivia Wilde (de)motivational!