Serving Greater Vancouver & the Fraser Valley
12 months... 12 ministries WORSHIP (#2)

12 months… 12 ministries WORSHIP (#2)

By Peter Biggs

• DISCIPLESHIP    • WORSHIP    • PREACHING   • EVANGELISM    • PASTORAL CARE

  SERVING THE POOR   • DELIVERANCE    • HEALING 1   • HEALING 2    

• CHILDREN & YOUTH Ministries  • SENIORS Ministry    • MENS & WOMENS Ministries   

For previous subjects in the series go to: lightmagazine.ca/12 

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Most think of ‘worship’ as equivalent to the music (done before the sermon), however worship is much deeper. It is a human being’s conscious response to the God who created, and revealed himself to them.

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Introduction

Go to Google and ask “What is Christian worship” – the response is incredible! So many helpful links from trusted Christian sources.

Go to Wikipedia search for ‘Christian Worship’ – again a remarkable overview that also includes a helpful historical perspective. The long entry starts with:

Throughout most of Christianity’s history, corporate Christian worship has been liturgical, characterized by prayers and hymns, with texts rooted in, or closely related to, the Scripture, particularly the Psalter; this form of sacramental and ceremonial worship is still practiced by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican churches, as well as some Protestant denominations such as Lutheranism and Methodism. In Evangelicalism, worship is viewed like an act of adoration of God, with a more informal conception.’

What is worship?

Most people think of worship as equivalent to the music (done before the sermon), however worship is much deeper. It is a human being’s conscious response to the God who created them, and has revealed himself to them.

Brian Buhler is Lead Pastor at Pacific Community Church, Cloverdale, BC. He states, “Everything we do as Christians is an act of worship; eating, drinking, service, social justice, preaching, evangelizing, sacrifices of time, money, food, clothing, hospitality, and our daily work are all seen as being offered to God as worship. So to suggest that we only worship when we come to church is a fallacy.”

Well-known worship leader and songwriter Brian Doeksen agrees. “Worship is a response to God’s activity and revelation to us. Its a way of life – an ancient path humans have as we long for God. It has to do with how we spend our resources – our time and money.”

Consciousness of God, both in our thoughts and hearts by the Holy Spirit allows that all things we do can be worshipful. One pastor told a parishioner who works in a car wash…”wash each car like it belongs to Jesus as an act of worship!”

The Sunday liturgy

The term ‘liturgy’ refers to a set form and order of content, usually repeated at weekly church gatherings. Every church has a liturgy.

Gordon T. Smith – President of Ambrose University in Calgary, authored Evangelical, Sacramental & Pentecostal an influential book for leaders that challenges the whole approach to church services. He states, “Evangelical churches emphasize the importance of Scripture and preaching. Sacramental churches emphasize the importance of the eucharistic table. And Pentecostal churches emphasize the immediate presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The whole point of Smith’s book is that the church needs all three to get holistic worship right.” In other words, every church should strive to be evangelical, sacramental, and charismatic. The new name for this is ‘convergent’.

Ken Shigematsu, pastor at Tenth Church in Vancouver comments,

“As a pastor, I have long felt that churches need to be centred on the Scriptures, but also experience Christ through the sacraments, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. Gordon Smith has put into words what many of us have intuited. We need a combination of the word of God, the Lord’s supper, and the Spirit to lead people to Jesus and help them feed on him.”

CLICK to read a Light Feature Interview with Dr. Smith on this (and other subjects)

 

Buhler sees the whole corporate event as an act of worship and as a result, spiritually formative. “Sunday by Sunday, the corporate worship shapes, instructs and forms our private worship, and vice versa. We are not a group of detached individuals gathered for a private encounter with God. Rather, for 90 minutes once a week we shed our individualism and choose to worship as a choir.”

Corporate worship challenges

On a very practical level, worship is challenging and may expose our hearts.

• Distractions

What do we think about as we sing in church? Distractions abound!

While we are engaged in a sublime activity like worshipping God, we can easily be simultaneously worried about what people think of us holding up (or not holding up) our hands (a self conscious expression of pride)! How worship exposes our utter need. Paul expresses this in Romans 7:

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me… Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’”

• Dissensions

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23)

The Holy Spirit frequently convicts us that as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18), this may involve costly and painful forgiveness.

• Disengagement

The challenge for all church leaders is that liturgies can become boring and rote. Most of us have experienced rattling through the Lord’s Prayer with little true engagement. Take the Evangelical liturgy: welcome; music; greet one another; announcements/collection; preaching and final song (with the Lord’s Supper in many traditions a monthly ‘add on’).

Concern

Pastors obviously assess the engagement of their people on Sundays. Many are concerned…

Buhler was asked to share his journey in a seminar at Vancouver’s Regent College Pastors Conference.

“About ten years ago, I found myself very dissatisfied, even disillusioned with the state of our liturgies. I believed that our weekly worship was to be formational, that we would become like the God we were worshipping. But we had a few glaring holes, that in my opinion, were contributing to the individualism, consumerism, and worldliness of our churches.

I grew up believing that ‘real presence’, though we never used that term, was found primarily in hearty singing, emotional preaching, and the altar call at the end of the sermon. The altar call was ‘real presence’ for non-sacramentalists!

The Lord’s Supper was valued as a necessary monthly accessory added to the end of an already too-long service.  If you happened to miss the first Sunday of the month, waiting eight weeks for the Lord’s Supper didn’t seem to bother anyone too much.

In the early 90’s when we were bitten by the seeker-sensitive bug, our worship services began to morph into a strange hybrid that married cultural relevance with evangelistic fervour. The Communion Table would be better used as an information kiosk for seekers.”

One could add that the pulpit has been replaced with a coffee table & stool!

Change

Buhler has since changed Pacific Community Church’s whole approach to the Sunday gathering. They celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week and believe it to be a significant means of grace.

“Every Sunday our worship crescendos with a parade of beggars forming a bread line. The physical act of getting out of our seats and coming forward with others assists in removing Communion from the category of a private individual worship experience. We all need Christ together. We are the one loaf. As the church comes forward, we can’t help but discern the body. A failing wife pushed in her wheel chair to the Table by her loving husband; both desperate for Christ. Behind them is a 40 year old dad who was just served divorce papers. He’s accompanied by his 13 year old daughter; both desperate for Christ. Behind them is  a single mom and her young adult son who has recently declared his sexual orientation; both desperate for Christ.”

Conclusion. Five essential elements

1. Worship is trinitarian

• It is for God

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” (Exodus 8:1)

• Christ is central

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2,:20)

• It is to be Spirit-led

God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

2. It is a response to God revealing himself to us. 

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1)

3. It involves the corporate relationships

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23)

4. It transforms us in our discipleship

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16)

5. It produces a God conciousness that is missional and 24/7

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

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