An over-the-top worship “experience” is what many churches are trying to sell today. Bright lights, sharp cameras and a lot of action is cooked-up in order to attract interested “worshipers” of the God of Heaven. But is such beneficial, necessary or profitable for the seekers, or even desired by God? I don’t believe so.
Obviously the first century didn’t have the same impressive technology that we do today, but the first century was well-acquainted with dramatic skits, various orchestrations of musical instruments and the desire of the general public to be entertained. And yet we read nothing about these avenues being employed when it came to the church’s worship service toward God.
Am I saying that worshiping God is supposed to be a sensory-dulling experience? No. I believe John 4:24 says something about the spirit being used with the truth, and by default the truth being used with the spirit. But if you read the “1st letter” to the Corinthians that we have then you will find several corrections being given to the church when it comes to the out-of-control behavior that was being displayed during their worship services…corrections which seem to contradict any modern-day notion of a lights, cameras and action-packed worship experience that is so often sold to the public.
“Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40)
I received a letter in the mail yesterday addressed to the church, from a “local” media installation company offering to install the “needed solutions” for our sound and video problems, that I found interesting.
My purpose for this quick little post isn’t to “pick on” the company, or to send them an “open letter” or to really be a rebuttal toward them in any way, but rather to point out something that was said in their brochure to which I believe reveals a problem with many of the company’s targeted customers – churches, and their worship services.
The brochure asked, and I quote, “Are you looking for new ways to enhance your fellowship’s spiritual experience? Maybe your church’s sound/video system needs an upgrade?”
So here’s my observation, and I hope you get the picture and the message:
Worship by its very nature is meant to be about what the worshiper offers to God, not what the church offers to the worshiper. But many churches, both past and present, have been and are currently in the business of selling worship experiences. They have taken something (i.e. worship) that is supposed to revolve around what gets brought and they have turned it on its head to make it about what gets received. And now they find themselves in a situation much akin to the restaurant and service business – competing with competitors on the basis of who can offer the best experience to the customers, the consumers and the curious.
Stop and think about it for a moment. Have you ever wondered how the church through the early centuries ever managed to worship God without all the lights, cameras and action? How boring it must have been! Why did people ever show up? I just don’t know!
But then again, maybe I do know. Maybe the church did just fine by being more concerned with giving to instead of taking from the worship services. And just maybe if churches were more concerned with that kind of worship experience today, our appetite for entertainment could be more easily contained.
Here’s a link to the latest PDF issue of the Christian Worker.
Here are the topics that you will find:
- Still the Most Critical Problem (Bill Jackson)
- Apollos (Sam Willcut)
- Bless the Congregational Lectureships (Bill Jackson)
- Religion and Politics (James Boyd)
- Fighting, but Not Striving (Tom Moore)
- Shall We Digress into Holy Rollerism? (Curtis Cates)
- Self-Control (Jerry Moffitt)
- Strong Churches (Neal Pollard)
- Jesus Brings Hope Out of Tragedy (Charles Box)
Christian Worker is an edification effort of the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, Texas.
You can subscribe to the email version of the Christian Worker paper by clicking on the publications link on their website and then following the given instructions…or by clicking on the link provided here in The Fellowship Room under the “Friends” category to your right.
Copyright © 2014 Southwest church of Christ, All rights reserved.
Back home again! Our trip — yes, let’s call it a vacation — was really great, spent with family. And getting home is always good as well. For the first time I can remember, in a long while, I returned home feeling rested. And it’s good to be back on TFR. Missed you guys, though I’ve been reading a good deal, so I’m not entirely out of the loop.
• During our trip, I’d decided to keep up only two, yeah, three things: my Forthright Magazine articles on Mondays, and the Portuguese devotional which I’ve also been translating regularly into English. I’m glad to say I didn’t miss a lick during the entire time.
• I’m not always so clockworkish. Writing has its creative, moodish element, though it is eight parts persistence. Not all my material written during our trip was of the highest quality, but I trust it was all true, understandable, and amen-able. (And even amenable.)
• In the news. Is it justifiable to connect emphasis upon emotion with the modern evangelical praise movement? Could the music minister who tased his pastor, after getting the pink slip, be cited as a case in point? (Ironic the church name, New Welcome. Maybe that’s the new wave way of doing things.)
• Colossians 3 is the NT reading for today. Maybe the New Welcome folk might want to read it next Sunday. I need to, I know.