Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Hobbs, Taz, and Chloe.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Church and Worship

Every Sunday, and sometimes on other days, Christians gather together for their worship services. But I think that we have lost some of the idea of worship, especially what the Protestant Reformers and some of the Puritans considered worship. Now, I know that those worthy folks did not have a lock on true worship (in the sense that they were the only ones who did it right). I am not saying that. But there were elements in their worship that (I think) are very important and I think sometimes, these elements are being lost in our modern times.

Above all else, I think we are losing the idea of "meeting God" in worship. Many worship services today have become "shows and programs." By that, I mean that they are times of entertainment, not unlike many modern pop concerts.

Worship is essentially having a life changing encounter with God. Everything in the worship service leads one to be ready to meet God. All the prayers, the singing, the scripture reading, all designed to bring one into a ready state for an encounter with God.

That "meeting with God" happens during the preaching of the sacred word. As the preacher faithfully expounds the word of God, the Holy Spirit takes that preached word and applies it to the listener's heart and situation, so that the hearer is compelled to respond in some way to the word. To the Puritans, this was the whole point of the worship service. This is the place and the time when the Christian met God. And, as Henry Blackaby says in his study "Experiencing God" "No one can meet God and walk away unchanged." In fact, if a person leaves the worship service in the same condition he was in when he entered, he did not meet God there.

This is what the church does when it meets. I fear that a lot of modern worship is all about sending people home entertained instead of sending them home changed. Church leaders need to be aware of what they are doing (bringing people to a life changing encounter with God) and plan their services accordingly. Charles Spurgeon noted this trend over 100 years ago. He had a sermon titled "Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats." We've come a long way since Spurgeon's day.

The next time you go to church, go prepared to meet God. Oftentimes, people get what they expect. Ask yourself, did the message that was preached compel me to make a life changing decision? Am I changed because I was here? If not, why not? Scripture warns us to use our time wisely because "the days are short." If you are attending a church, and you are not meeting God there, are you using your time wisely? It is worth considering.

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