Monday, October 15, 2007


Several factors have led up to this post in the last couple of weeks. First, a conversation I had with a couple of friends who had attended Andy Stanley's church. While it appeared they had some reservations about the service they were quick to jump to his defense. "It all tied in." is what I heard on more than one occasion. The brief video I viewed in which they were getting ready to have a scavenger hunt in the sanctuary was very disturbing to me. Personally I would have walked out. This is not worship, no matter how relevant one thinks it is.

The big issue for me these days is this "relevance" we think we need to introduce into worship. The idea is we do something kind of worldly to lure the pagan into our church and then pull the ole' "Bait and switch" and hit em with the gospel. There are several problems here. One, we seem to be under the delusion that it is our job to get the pagans into the church. It is not. Our job is to proclaim the gospel, God the Holy Spirit saves. And guess what folks, every single person God ordains for salvation will hear this gospel. Two, the people pulling this "switch" never get around to preaching the gospel.

Second, several articles I have read recently. These articles mainly centered on the "new" methods of doing church contrasted with the "ordinary means of grace" ministries. The so-called new methods are those "Purpose driven," "contexualization," "word and deed," and "emerging/emergent" among others. The main problem of these new methods is their focus is in the wrong place. Even while worshiping at a Christian College, before I knew what reformed was let alone that I was one, I could tell the emphasis was on the wrong person. These new methods all focus on us and what we should/need to be doing instead of on God and what He has done. And no wonder these all come from an Arminian/self-salvation viewpoint. If one has to "decide for Christ," then salvation is up to the individual and not God. It is not surprising then that we hear the rallying cry of the new reformation "Deeds not creeds!" Unfortunately the ones screaming this mantra do not realize they are screaming "Give me Law, not Gospel!"

Finally, the Adult Catechism class Dr. Horton is teaching is on worship. One of the points he made that really struck me is that we have lost the title of the service we attend. We now call it a "worship service," which puts the focus on us and what we do. It used to be called "The Divine service," which put the focus where it should be on God and what He does. This service is not about us, it is not what we do, the service is what God does generously for us. I think we all could do well to reflect on this for awhile. Until next time.



Anonymous said...

Divine service, huh? My, how telling.

Rich Barrett said...

"the people pulling this 'switch' never get around to preaching the gospel."

That's a very sweeping and serious accusation from someone who's never been to North Point or ever heard Andy preach.

Why does generation after generation continue to confuse methodology with theology?

Alan said...

While I admit it is a generalization, It is safer to practice worship as prescribed in scripture and leave the saving to the Holy Spirit. Why are we looking for new ways to attract unbelievers to church? We are obligated to preach the gospel, that's it, the rest of the work is done by God and He will accomplish the salvation of every single person He intends to save, in spite of our many attempts to revolutionize church.

I am not confusing methodology with theology, you are setting up a false dichotomy. Our methodology must be a nature outflow of our theology. To do otherwise is to branch out into uncharted waters and this is dangerous at best.

By the way, I do not have to drink Drano to know it is bad. I purposely stay away from "new ways of doing church" precisely because it is bad.

In Christ

Mark M said...

A few thoughts:

I don't know much about the issue of "relevance" but I think I'd rather not participate in worship that is irrelevant, which is defined as "unrelated to the matter being considered."

I know only a little about Andy Stanley's church, but what I've heard has been good. I would be very reluctant to judge another man's work for the Lord. A couple of verses come to mind about this:
"Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." - Rom. 14:4.
"I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some." - 1 Cor. 9:22

I'm not familiar with the "Divine Service" and had to look it up. I don't really know what is different between a Divine Service and a Worship Service. I would say the example in many of the Psalms would form the biblical basis for what happens in a Worship Service, along with the NT teachings (the Lord's Supper, corporate prayer, etc). What is the biblical basis for the Divine Service?

Lisa G. said...

Hi Mark,

I believe Alan will respond more, but since he's not feeling well, I thought I'd throw in my two cents now. :)

Relevance here is with regard to culture. Modern worship leaders try so hard to be relevant to the culture, using rock music, drama, and other means to reach people in "today's" culture that they are often missing the message of Christ, and Him crucified. That message is the means God chose to reveal Himself to His elect. We don't need to become like the world to reach the world. (In fact, we are commanded *not* to be of the world, only to be in the world.) He will bring every single soul He has chosen to save to hear that message.

You're correct, Divine Service is the same as a Worship Service. The difference is on whom the emphasis lies. Yes, we are supposed to worship God, but we also need to be ministered *to* by God. Remember, Jesus said, "I came not to be served, but to serve." That was the point Dr. Horton was making in Sunday School, that there has been a shift away from receiving God's service.

And judging... "Judge not, lest you be judged" has become a catch phrase, and, among other things, can stop people from using discernment about what they hear. What it really means is that we are not to judge self-righteously, and that is different from using judgment to be discerning of truth. There was a time that I believed anything that had the label "Christian" on it was good. But that isn't true, and there is real danger in not making sure what we're listening to, reading, etc., is scriptural, grounded in truth.

In Christ,