Christian philosophy lite: Bringing worship up to date
March 23, 2011 at midnight
Updated March 24, 2011 at 10:25 p.m.
By Raymond Smith
Of current interest in the church today is the subject of worship. Society is changing, and many of the old styles of worship no longer appeal to the younger set - but that does not mean they don't feel worship is unimportant. A new report by Christian researcher George Barna reveals that worship is considered the most important dimension of faith for 92 percent of all churched adults. Barna also states that, "although two out of three adults say they always look forward to worshipping God, only one-third of all church regulars believe they always experience God's presence or intimate interaction with Him during corporate worship times."
Praise is the bedrock of our worship. God is the focus of our attention, and we praise Him for all the benefits He brings us: peace, confidence, joy and love - even encouragement and patience during times of trial. While we try to include music and elements of worship that appeal to the congregation, we must never let those elements compromise our attention to God. Some worship forms may border on entertainment.
The worship leader/music director has the greatest responsibility to guide the congregation into a worshipful mind-set. All distractions should be avoided. His opening remarks can set the tone for the whole hour. The service should be fresh and creative. When we do the same things Sunday after Sunday, worship becomes stale and meaningless. A written congregational survey or evaluation should prove helpful.
Of particular interest today is the changing emphasis on Christian music. Most of the newer and independent churches are singing some of the new choruses, while retaining a few of the most scriptural and poetic old hymns. Not all of the choruses are worthy. Because of their simplicity of style, they are being written by the hundreds, and because there are so many of them, a wise music director will weed out those that are not worthy. A popular music source today is a band instead of a piano, but there is a chance that this could become a source of entertainment instead of worship.
Rick Warren caps it all off by saying that the church must never lose its focus on bringing lost people into the Kingdom and then helping to mature them in the faith. In today's society, that means keeping in mind the needs of the younger generation. Many established traditions may need to be evaluated. Newer methods can be employed without compromising the truth.
Barna jars our consciences by saying that six out of 10 worshippers do not prepare for worship through prayer and meditation, or focusing on God prior to arriving at church. Ouch. Did he really have to say that?
"The bottom line is, do we love people enough to change some of our preferences in order to help them understand the eternal truth of God's grace through Jesus Christ?" (Rick Warren). Achieving a meaningful worship service will make many church members happy, as well as pleasing God.
Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and president of Strong Families of Victoria