Tuesday, April 24, 2007

To Worship Or Not To Worship That Is The Question

On the Blog Necessary Roughness a mission congregation was brought up that apparently only meets for Bible Study. A few of us engaged in a short conversation about the topic and while none of us have posted in awhile, I am still thinking about the conversation.

Now in pursuing this conversation, I do not really want to comment on the congregation itself rather I want to stay within the "theoretical realm" because I do not know what is going on in that specific instance. Rebellious Pastor's Wife brought up an objection concerning a church with a pastor not gathering around the sacraments in divine service. Now, I can think of one legitimate reason for not gathering around the sacraments, Holy Communion, in particular, and that is they are going through catechesis and are not yet ready. However, this fact does not negate the benefit of gathering for a prayer and preaching service. Which makes me wonder why a mission would not start a regular service of some sort once there were two or three regulars.

Now for my question, what would drive the ultimate decision to not have a regular worship service and just a Bible Study? I have to wonder if it is because we are locked into this idea that we need a proper building in which to worship. Really a storefront or church building is not necessary for a worship service. All that is needed is a person willing to open their home or a convenient open space like a park. As it was brought up in our discussion the promise of Christ is to be where ever two or three are gathered in his name not in the designated sanctuary of such and such building.

My second thought is that we are of the mindset that a worship service is not meant for witnessing. This thought baffles me completely because a worship service centered around the Word of God is going to witness to people. As God's word is presented in the context of the service one can not help but be convicted by the Law and healed by the Gospel, because they will be given clearly. I realize a major portion of the service is the Sacrament of the Altar and that unprepared people are rightfully asked to refrain from partaking and this can be perceived as an impediment or turn off, but this still does not necessarily negate the witnessing ability of a worship service. I mean the ancient church would ask people to leave before receiving communion and as we can see now it didn't turn off everybody.

Now, I realize in a sense I have set up straw men, but I am curious as to why people when they have the means would not have a worship service. I don't know maybe other's have some experience with this thought process.

2 comments:

Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

you wrote:

My second thought is that we are of the mindset that a worship service is not meant for witnessing. This thought baffles me completely because a worship service centered around the Word of God is going to witness to people. As God's word is presented in the context of the service one can not help but be convicted by the Law and healed by the Gospel, because they will be given clearly

I am glad you continued this! I agree completely with this statement. My previous objection is based on the fact that many of our mission programs are rooted in the idea that it is all about growth and outreach, rather than feeding God's flock. I've also seen many church growth congregations turn their focus onto "how do we structure the service so that we can draw people in." In these congregations, the sermon and the music are particularly designed to appeal to the person with very little knowledge of the gospel, and of course, the Table is opened up to all, too, lest we offend. So the flock that is there is never fed anything other than "milk." My inlaws' congregation is this way.

When I was saying "the worship service is for the believer," I particularly meant that the worship service should be designed to feed the flock. In doing so, the Law and the Gospel should be clearly presented, and that would also witness to those who are there who are unchurched. I am not for closing anyone off from worship who needs to hear the gospel! (that would be terrible!) I'm just against making them the focus at the expense of the believers.

Dr. Luther in the 21st Century said...

It is a considerable challenge to properly mix milk and meat in a service. However, it is not a challenge we should shirk. I have to admit, though, it is easier to write a milk sermon than to write a meaty sermon and still keep it interesting for the average person. I can't consider myself an average person considering I have read Martin Chemnitz for fun, but then I have always been a little strange.

Even though I think we should reform and embrace the modern styles of music, I think it is also time that we stop being so afraid to be who we are. Given the recent successes of the Orthodox Churches we do not need to look like Willow Creek to reach the lost. We just need to actually reach out with the Gospel. Wan't it Billy Graham who described the LCMS as the sleeping giant who if they ever reached out with their doctrines would be a force to reckon with?