Monday, July 25, 2011

Why and For Who Is a Contemporary Worship Service?

Question Received:

I am attending a church where there are two worship services on Sunday morning. Both these services are the same in worship style. As a result of a demographic study our pastor has decided that we are going to change our 11:00am worship service into a distinctive contemporary worship service. A praise & worship leader has been obtained to conduct this service and many musicians from without the church have been invited in to participate in this worship service. We have a good number of elderly who attend the 11:00am worship service and cannot attend the early service for one reason or another. Our pastor is using the scripture in I Corinthians 9:22 to justify what he is doing. Is he not being inconsiderate of our elderly by doing this? Is it biblical to order our worship according to demographic studies and preferences of the unsaved as opposed to the preferences of those who already saved within the church?

My Answer:

First the church and you must understand what worship is.

Psalm 29:1-2 (ESV) Tells us what worship is.

"1Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness."

Our loving God is described this way.
Deuteronomy 4:24 (ESV)
"24For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God."

Exodus 20:2-11 (ESV) describes how we approach God in the first four of the ten commandments.
2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 "You shall have no other gods before me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. 8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

In the Old Testament the Lord struck down young priests Hophni and Phinehas,in 1st Samuel:30-35, because the LORD was "lightly esteemed" in their worship. In the New Testament Paul writes, In First Corinthians, 11:29-30, that some have died by having wrong motives during the Lord's Supper. 1st Corinthians 11:29-30 (ESV) "29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died."
According to Scripture The Lord GREATLY cares how we worship.

What is worship for? Wayne Grudem, respected theologian, says we worship to "To glorify God with our voices and hearts."

What does the congregation of believers do in worship? They sing, say, read, hear, preach and see (through the Lord's Supper and Baptism), the Bible. This is a simple yet often neglected formula that is sound. This is what the Bible says happens in God honoring Biblical worship.

Does the style of worship matter?
No the style does not matter, if it is God honoring you can sing hymns, modern praise ballads, the psalms, Southern gospel, IF the words of the song align with the gospel witness.

Does the style of worship matter? Yes, if the focus is not about God from the account of Scriptures then you are not in worship. You are then a participant in a vain performance by musicians, not biblically sanctioned worship.

Does what people wear in worship matter? No, if they are there with the purpose of giving glory to God.

Does what people wear matter in worship? Yes, if their clothes detract from God's glory. They do not need to promote self over observance of God's worship.

Is there ever a case in Scripture where the "Body of Christ", "The Family of God", "The Kingdom of God", "The House of God" is segregated? No. The "Family of God" has young and old.

Is it OK to have different styles of worship services? Yes. If both services honor and give glory to God in a biblically sanctioned way.

Is it OK to have different styles of worship services? No, not if one or both do not honor and give glory to God. This is error IF worship practice is not justified by Scripture.

Worship is for the saved to glorify God.
Who can worship God? His children. How can nonbelievers worship? They can not.
Glorifying God is the first priority of worship. Evangelism will follow worship as the unbeliever in awe watches our devotion and observes God interacting with us.
In 1 Corinthians 14:25(ESV), non-believers are awed by God, not our performance in worship.
"25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you."

In Acts 2:11(ESV), the non-believers were awed by how God interacted with the believers at Pentecost. "11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."

The following verse you pastor quoted, to justify the new service, is a great verse, as they all are.
1 Corinthians 9:22(ESV)
"22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some."
This verse, I Corinthians 9:22, is about giving all in evangelism. Paul did not regard his high status in church as he served others in evanglelism. We should not either. Paul might have conformed to culture but not to the content of the gospel. Paul would have never compromised worship.

You are concerned about the character of the worship, and the inclusion/exclusion of senior Christians.

Your pastor has started a new worship service.
Have you heard him out or are you pushing your status as a senior in church to get your way?
Is the glory of God primary in your concern for the integrity of worship?
Are you concerned for the other believers who worship?
Do you care to evangelize the lost?
Do you love, support the well being of the pastor and family,
and pray for his success in ministry?
Only you know these answers, if you look to the Lord and the biblical witness to get the truth, not just your way.

This does not have to be a show down with you winning or the pastor winning, with the loser leaving the church.
Pray and talk to the pastor about these questions and possible answers.
Would seniors be welcome to worship at this contemporary service?
Is it a priority to glorify God in this worship service?
Is the purpose to attract just the lost?
Is worship and evangelism being confused?
If so, should the church consider other ways for evangelism and outreach.

Remember the priority of worship is to glorify God, evangelism is often the result.
If evangelism and outreach are main focus, is there another way for the church to do this evangelism and outreach the pastor is leading the church to do?
Has the church considered week night, or weekend night evangelism events with music and preaching? (We used to call these revivals.)
If so, could that be accomplished at another time in another way not yet considered?
The lost usually do not care to go to church on Sunday mornings.
You could have this time of evangelism and preaching on another time rather than replace a successful Sunday morning worship time.
Would a weekly evangelism event be held on Saturday or Sunday night.
The unsaved probably do not care when this would happen.

Pray, Pray, Pray that God is glorified in your actions.
As a senior member of the church you could pave the way to the pastors
success in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. You could also crush him emotionally and his called vocation to shepherd the flock and preach the gospel.

Go with the grace of love of God and His glory to accept or help shape the best biblical solution to the church's and pastor's carrying out the gospel mission of the church.

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