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Worshipping God Imperfectly, Sunday after Sunday
Reading Justin Baeder’s “Moving beyond the Worship Service” has got me dithering. Do we need worship services at all?
Having people attend a worship service as the primary way of doing church communicates that being a Christian is about passively attending to someone else’s ministry efforts. There has to be a pastor, who presents the information to be absorbed. There has to be a worship leader, who directs the praise of the church. There is little room for any involvement by the average person, save for trivial roles such as ushering, the occasional prayer or scripture reading, and, of course, paying for everything.
I don’t disagree. Yet I know one particular church that abolished its Sunday worship service – moving instead to small group structures - and within a couple of years there wasn’t much of a church remaining.
Many friends complain about worship services, often using similar words to Justin’s. They say they get their spiritual nourishment mainly from their prayer group, their Bible study fellowship, their quiet time, or whatever. Anything but Sunday worship.
I don’t think it’s just that our worship is so passive (for the congregation). I know that many – including me – don’t want too much “audience participation”. Just yesterday in church our worship leader asked us to reflect for a few minutes on Isaiah 9:2 (“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…”). Then he said: “Turn to your neighbour and say what the Holy Spirit has revealed to you about that verse.”
I turned to my neighbour and told him my mind had been wandering all over the place for the previous couple of minutes. “That’s very honest,” he said, then added, “Me too.”
Yet we keep turning up on Sunday, and I think it’s more than habit. I suspect that in our increasingly fragmented and insular society, people want community. And we want to worship God together in community. However imperfectly. Sunday after Sunday.
December 22nd, 2003