5 Big Things Missing from Modern Worship

~  Challies

I once paid a visit to one of the most mega of America’s megachurches. It’s a church whose pastor is well-known, a church known for its innovation, a church held up as a model for modern evangelicalism. I went in with as open a mind as I could muster. I left perplexed. I was perplexed not by what was said or done in the service as much as what was left unsaid and undone.

Since that visit I’ve had the opportunity to attend many more churches and, as often as not, they have been similar, missing a lot of the elements that used to be hallmarks of Christian worship.

Here are some of the missing elements of modern worship:

  1. Prayer
    That church I visited all those years ago was the first I had ever attended that was almost completely devoid of prayer. The only prayer in the entire service was a prayer of response following the sermon. “With every head bowed and every eye closed, pray these words with me…” There were no prayers of confession, of intercession, of thanksgiving. There was no pastoral prayer to bring the cares of the congregation before the Lord. This is a pattern I have seen again and again in modern worship services, with prayer becoming rare and minimal instead of common and prominent. Conspicuous by their absence are any prayers longer than 30 seconds or a minute in length.
  2. Scripture Reading
    Another element that has gone missing in modern worship is the scripture reading. There was a time when most services included a couple of lengthy readings, often one from the Old Testament and one from the New. But then it was trimmed to one and then the reading disappeared altogether in favor of mentioning individual verses as they came up in the sermon. But what of Paul’s command to Timothy that he devote himself to the public reading of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13)? In too many churches this element has gone missing. In too many churches the Word of God is almost an afterthought. If a worship service includes no prayer and no Bible reading, can we even recognize it as Christian worship? Already we do well to pause and ask the question: If a worship service includes no prayer and no Bible reading, can we even recognize it as Christian worship?

More: https://churchleaders.com/worship/worship-articles/301057-whats-missing-modern-worship.html

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Why Do We Go to Church?

Recently James K. A. Smith discussed the “good life” and the implication for Christian living at the Wisdom Forum. Halfway through this dialogue he made a striking comment,

People come to church and have no clue why. They sing a few songs, listen to a sermon, and go back to their lives without any change. The problem is that they have no understanding as to why they are doing what they are doing.

I am still chewing on these words, and I am overwhelmed for resolution.

If the common church attender comes to “worship” on Sunday but does not know why, then we have a problem. Why, then, should you go to church? To be more theologically accurate, why should you gather with the church — since the church is not the building down the street, but the group of believers?

How will we change this misconception of our time together? We have a purpose, not just as a body, but as individuals too. Do they know that? Now that I have a Master’s of Divinity in Christian Studies, you might assume that I have all the answers. However, I need to be reminded of why we gather as much as anyone.

The diversity of the local church should mirror heaven to a dying, lost and sinful world.

So Why Do We Gather as the Church?

We “church” to glorify God. We gather around God. Romans 12:1 commands us to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. This lifestyle propels communal witnessing (1 Peter 2:9), repenting (Acts 2:38), worshipping (Psalm 150; Ephesians 5:19) and teaching (Colossians 3:16). We gather because we are one body, drawn together by God to be a people of God who live for God. We testify to God’s greatness. We disciple others through life together. We serve, teach and encourage, not just one another, but the world at large.

We do not ultimately come together for Sunday worship service to experience an emotional response that brings joy to us as consumers, though many Westerners gather for this very reason. Rather, we gather because God has united us. We gather because we live life together in being effective witnesses to our local communities. We gather because the diversity of the local church should mirror heaven to a dying, lost and sinful world. Christians are made to gather.

So again, I restate the issue at hand. Do believers and weekly church attenders really know this? Even if you think your church members know this, you may want to re-educate them because there might be blind-spots in your pews. Thankfully, everyone in the church has a purpose.

Read more: http://intersectproject.org/faith-and-culture/why-do-we-go-to-church/

Francis Chan: If All You Had Was Scripture, What Would Church Look Like?

https://www.christianpost.com/news/francis-chan-if-all-you-had-was-scripture-what-would-church-look-like-227393/

12 Reasons Your Church Doesn’t Produce Spiritual Growth

https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/161973-12-reasons-your-church-doesnt-produce-spiritual-growth.html

Why It’s Dangerous to ‘Build a Church on the Bible’

This past Sunday First Baptist Dallas celebrated it’s 150th anniversary, a historic milestone of longevity and influence however you define it. But in an interview with the Christian Post preceding the anniversary, Pastor Robert Jeffress made a statement that on the surface seems doctrinal, but I believe is in fact dangerous. Here’s a printed portion of the interview between the Christian Post and Pastor Robert Jeffress:

CP: At a time when many churches are in decline or closing, how is it that First Baptist Dallas is celebrating its 150 anniversary and still going strong?

Jeffress: I think there’s one simple answer to that. We are a church that’s not built on a denomination or a church built on tradition or a church built on popular opinion. We are a church built on the Bible. The fact is, denominations change, culture changes, opinions change, but God’s Word never changes. I think the reason God has blessed First Baptist for these 150 years is, this is a church that has been dedicated to proclaiming the unchanging truth of God’s Word.

So, what’s so wrong with the statement? I’ll ask it this way: if you would have sat down with the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, perhaps even some early church fathers like Clement of Rome or Tertullian, and asked them what the church was built on, they wouldn’t have said ‘the Bible,’ and for a very good reason. ‘The Bible’ didn’t exist yet as we now know it, not being finalized in its canonical form until the 4th century. In the decades immediately following the resurrection of Jesus, even before the letters of Paul were written and the eyewitness Gospel accounts recorded, the church thrived and flourished not because of a book but because of an event.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/newwineskins/why-its-dangerous-to-build-a-church-on-the-bible/

‘Where Two or More are Gathered’ Doesn’t Make a Church

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/chorusinthechaos/where-two-or-more-are-gathered-doesnt-make-a-church/

Whatever Happened to Church Discipline?

From what I “gather,” church discipline has largely dropped away from non-fundamentalist American evangelical Protestant church life. Read more
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~ Roger E. Olson