A LARGER WORSHIP GATHERING

Many evangelicals, beginning with my own denomination, have a tendency to quantify everything including worship.  A question asked early and often of those who might engage in discussion regarding their local church and its worship is, “How many do you have in worship attendance?”  What is to me more disturbing is a long-lived trend of bending the very ethos of a church’s gathered worship to serve as an attraction to those outside.  Let me hasten to ask that you be sure and read the entire article lest you misunderstand my sentiment as being insensitive to those outside the faith, or disinterest in gathering of all believers.  The apostle Paul is clear about keeping the worship environment understandable for unbelievers, and the efficacy of the same. (1 Cor 14)

Regardless of whether our worship gathering includes 30, or 3,000 believers, the enormity of the gathering of genuine spiritual engagement in worship includes a much larger gathering.  The beautiful and inspiring vision is painted for us in Hebrews 12.  Our participation is with a “Kingdom that cannot be shaken” (vs. 28), as contrasted to “things that are shaken – that is, things that have been made” (vs. 27).  In this passage Old Covenant worship is contrasted to New Covenant worship where:

you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (22-24)

Talk about a crowd!  Worship Leaders, what would it do to your sense of optimism if, rather than focusing on disappointment in a “low crowd” in Sunday worship, you instead helped those physically present in your worship space to realize the profound spiritual truth that you gather with innumerable angels, with all those enrolled in heaven, and best of all, with Jesus Himself, the mediator of a new covenant, which is our only means of coming into God’s Presence in the firstplace.  The writer of Hebrews contrasts the blood of Abel, which cries out a curse for vengeance (Gen. 4:10-11), with the blood of Jesus which brings forgiveness and atonement.

The orderly worship called for in I Corinthians 14 includes a sensitivity to those unbelievers or outsiders who might enter (vs 24), and Paul suggests the possible result of such entering, even that such a one might “fall on his face and worship God and declare that God is really among you.”  Note, however, that it is not an attractiveness of our worship, much less the attractiveness of the worshipers.  This is a reason so much of church marketing disturbs me as we self-describe “exciting worship,” or invite people to come and join a “loving people.”  Surely those outsiders will be the judge of that for themselves, especially in our culture of choice.  Research is clear that this kind of self-grandizing turns people off to our hypocrisy more than attract them to come to experience our self-proclaimed warmth.  Rather it is God’s presence among worshipers that alone delivers effect.  Oh that this would be what we seek, and even scorn suggestions that we turn worship on its ear to supposedly become attractional for its own sake, bending expressions to appear “lively,” or “exciting,” or “passionate,” rather than trusting our True Worship Leader, Jesus, our liturgist, our High Priest (Heb 8), Who sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us even in our time of worship.

Brothers and sisters, let us more faithfully trust the Gospel as its own self-described benefit for our lives and our witness, and act accordingly as Hebrews 13 goes on to exhort.  I believe there will be attraction in the people we become if we become more like Jesus, not neglecting hospitality to strangers nor those in prison.  Let us pursue “the city that is to come, and “through Him let us continually offer up the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, ‘the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” (Heb 13:14-15)  Who knows, God may in turn bless us with more people in worship gatherings, who come to also seek His Presence.

 

Explore posts in the same categories: Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

4 Comments on “A LARGER WORSHIP GATHERING”


  1. Nothing is more attractive than true worship of the true God! Thanks, Paul, for the reminder.

    • Paul Clark Jr Says:

      Indeed it is Jesus Himself that is the essence of beauty. It is a fond memory, Lisa, of opportunities to lift Him up together with you and your family at times.


  2. […] it here. Share this:PrintEmailFacebook Tagged with: Hebrews, angels, worship Posted in News & […]

  3. Ed Kee Says:

    In keeping with this line of thought, I would suggest this article that I just moments ago tweeted to my followers. http://bit.ly/JsBAYL (Copy and paste into browser) Many of our churches build their outreach programs on the idea of selling something bigger and better – or different, when the reality is that the unchurched aren’t even interested in church at all. They’re selling to those who don’t care! We can’t attract people to our churches by offering them Starbucks coffee. As Seth Godin puts it “they won’t respond to a better-than-them pitch. Instead, they’re much more likely to respond to a new statement of their problem and a new statement of the solution. Check out the article above. It’s very thought-provoking.


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