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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Schism Sunday XIV: The Way We Worship

I used to love Sundays. They were my favorite day of the week. I reveled in the ritual of it all. We would go to church for our 1.5 hours of worship, fellowship, and good Bible teaching and afterwards we would go out to breakfast, drink too much coffee and discuss the sermon. We would eventually find our way home and into our bed for a traditional Sunday afternoon nap. I love naps and I loved Sundays. Mark asked me to marry him on a Sunday. I even enjoyed Sundays in college, I would dress up to go to Mass (if I wasn’t too hung over) and afterwards I’d go to the campus cafeteria which was still pretty empty because everyone else was sleeping off the weekend. I’d have an omelet and read the bulletin, it was one of the very few times I enjoyed being alone. And afterwards, you guessed it, I took nap.

We haven’t belonged to a church in about a year. I’m sure part of that is because we haven’t tried hard enough to find one that we consider worthy of our membership and part of it is because we are hesitant to join a church after a bad membership experience. But, really, part of it because we have visited so many churches with so many different names and they are all the same. Sure, sometimes the pastor is in a suit and sometimes he’s in a hoodie and jeans. Sometimes there is a projection screen, well most times there is a projection screen. Sometimes there is an electric guitar and sometimes their an acoustic, sometimes people raise their hands and sometimes they just sway their unattentive bodies to the music. Sometimes there is a starbucks in the lobby and sometimes we take communion. But every church seems to have the same marathon worship session that we always seem to forget to stretch for, and the same watered down message that leaves me wondering why I brought my Bible with me. Yes, I will admit that there are approximately 2 churches in the 450 we have visited that have a decent, Biblically accurate message and are actively feeding the poor and taking care of the orphans and widows. And they are at the top of our list of churches we might join one day. (Ok we haven’t visited that many, but there are 450 churches in Sioux Falls, SD)

After a truly wonderful watery service a couple weeks ago it made me wonder. Why are there so many churches out there? If God has called these leaders to start a new church why do they start a new one that looks just like the rest of them? And what is with this thing we call worship? I love the Catholic structure of a Mass. To me it makes sense to spread out your songs in between prayers and Bible readings. But every nondenom church I’ve been to has like 15 worship songs and then a sermon, closing prayer, and we all run to I-hop (the restaurant not the controversy). But what are we really calling praise and worship these days? Singing the hottest K-love songs on Sunday with a live band? Is that what worship is? I realize that in a effort to not to have a purely emotion based faith I might have over intellectualized everything and lost the ability to raise my hands and lose myself in the rhyming words of praise. But when I read the Bible people praise God sporadically, not just when there is live band present. The leper praised God when Jesus healed him, Mary (Martha’s sister) sat at Christ’s feet and hung on His every word, David danced in the streets, and even praised God when his child died. Acts 2:46-47 says, “And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts. Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people and the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved from spiritual death.” (amplifed)
Yes, the first 30 minutes of church should resemble a rock concert.
My Sunday afternoons rarely include a nap these days, quite often I am trudging through the putrid smelling halls of a nursing home to visit my mother. It has become a type of perverse worship for me. For I do not want to go to that nursing home to see my mother in a listless state, repeating the same phrase over and over. I do not enjoy searching her eyes, her face for some kind of recognition that she knows that I am her daughter. I do not want to go there. But I do want to show her my love, so I go. Don’t many people go to church, not because they actually want to go there but they are looking for a way to express their love to God? Is this really how it should be?

If the Lord kept adding to the church’s numbers in the time of Acts, why isn’t He adding to our numbers today? Is modern worship really what God had in mind for our gatherings? Do we need songs and dancing to truly worship our God and Savior? Isn’t there more to this? Do you think any of today’s churches are really modeled after the church in Acts? Should they be? Should church be a sick obligation or an enjoyable routine or something entirely different? How exactly do you worship? And is it only on Sundays?

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