Thursday, May 8, 2008

They Don't Care

Lately I have been thinking about the content of the worship services for our new church plant in the Seattle area. I am reminded of all of the books, seminars, and sermons that have addressed the topic of church worship. There are a multitude of opinions on how a worship service should look or feel. Many ideas are directed towards attracting non-Christians to our services. The thought process goes something like this. If we make our church service “cool” and relevant then people will be more likely to come to church. In addition, the reason more people are not coming to our church is because we are not relevant or trendy enough.
However, there is a huge problem with this line of thinking. Most non-Christians don’t care what we do on a Sunday morning. Very few non-Christians wake up on a Sunday and think, “I would go to the church down the street today if they were simply more trendy in their worship and preaching.” So for us to spend so much time and trying to make our worship services more attractive to a person that does not know Christ is silly.

I am not saying that we should not try to be relevant in the way we present the gospel. Nor am I saying that we should not seek to worship God with excellence. I am very passionate about both of these things. However, as I plan a worship service m first priority is to build up the saints for ministry (Ephesians 4). Furthermore, I believe that a room or building full of believers who are truly worshipping Jesus is very “attractive” to a non-Christian. See 1 Corinthians 14:24-25.

The key to growing a body of believers is not in how we do worship. It is how we train believers to share their faith. If we disciple people to be missionaries to their families, friends, and co-workers church growth will automatically take place. We can then make worship about challenging and encouraging people in their walk with Christ. And hopefully many worship services will be able to regain the depth and substance they are lacking.

Our Response

Recently I drove by a church that had erected a monument in memory of the people affected by a tornado that struck a section of Nashville. On this memorial were inscribed the words, “God was not in the tornado, but in our response.” Although these words may seem clever and maybe even comforting I think they are biblically inaccurate.

This is often man’s way of trying to deal with tragedy. It is an attempt to try and defend God from His accusers who say, “if God is good then why would He allow something like a tornado to destroy our city?” However, the words spoken by this pastor do not defend God. They only serve to rob Him of His sovereignty. All throughout Scripture we see a God who is in control of every aspect of our lives. He provides for our needs, defends us from our enemies, and often heals us. God also does allow hardship and suffering into our lives. As we look at the lives of Old Testament men such as Job and Habakkuk, we see God allowed trials and suffering. In the New Testament we see the ultimate act of suffering allowed by God when His Son is nailed to a cross and crucified. All throughout modern history Christians have experienced hardships, trials, and even death because of their faith in Christ.

So what do we say to this? The answer is not that God was not in these events. To say this would mean that we serve a God that is not all-powerful and sovereign over our lives. This is a frightening thought. I believe Paul answers this best in Romans 8 when He declares that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him. We must trust that God is good and that He is sovereign. Everything that happens in our lives is for a purpose.

So the key to all of this actually is in our response. Will we curse God’s name when adversity comes? Or will we praise Him like Job and trust that He loves us and will work all things together for His glory and our good?