Creed Screed: Doing Worship
By Paul Leavens
What is in the middle of church? “U-R.” If “U-R” is not in ch-ch it is incomplete. We cannot have church without “U.” If something is missing maybe it’s because “U-R” not where “U-R” supposed to be.
Open your mind, I am not talking about attending. We say that we attend worship. That in itself is misleading. We cannot attend worship; we have to do the worshipping. You may say, “Well, that is what I mean when say, ‘attend worship’.” The time has come when we need to spell it out and make sure as many as possible understand. We cannot spell church without “U.”
One of the great enemies of worship is the passivity of the people. We have drifted into a situation in which people want the drama of worship to be played out by the leader: “You do it for us. You are the minister. You do the whole thing. Don’t ask us to do anything more than stand to sing a few songs and throw a few coins into the offering plate. Don’t ask us to get involved.” That is what makes worship dull and uninteresting. When “U-R” not part of worship, there is something missing right in the middle of ch-ch.
There are different models of worship. To some worship is instruction and teaching, the handing over of information. It stands in the rationalistic tradition of the Enlightenment.
The evangelistic model of worship was shaped by the 19th century vision of the church as a revival – an evangelistic tent The purpose of this model is to save sinners. This is to be done by fervor and excitement and feeling. Many church’s today have been affected by this model
More recently worship has been shaped by the communications revolution. The influence of movies, television, video and action—inspired programs has crept into our worship. We boldly and unashamedly announce our secularized and passive concepts of worship by referring to our worship programs and by language of platforms, audiences and packages of music.
I’ve known some people who have left their church because the drums were too loud. Then I’ve known other people who left their church because they had no drums. And some left because they don’t use the hymn book anymore they have to raise your their head to see the slides. I know some of come to church because they want to be entertained. And I know some have left the church because it’s too much drama.
Perhaps the problem is that we do not know what worship is. Most of us grew up believing that worship is something done for us or to us, rather than by us. Worship is something we do. I think worship must be returned to the people.
The time has come to begin doing that by separating worship from teaching, from evangelism and from entertainment. When we do that we will discover that worship is active, not passive; dynamic, not static; a verb, not a noun. That will bring life, real life, to the church. People want life. Not just noise. Not a show that entertains they want and need life.
Worship is the action of the entire assembly, in which the death and resurrection of Jesus in all their saving and healing power is proclaimed, acted out, and responded to with singing voices, open hearts and engaged minds.
Hope to see you in the middle of church and U-R at worship.
Dr. Paul Leavens is minister of the Christian Church in Lindsay, 120 N. Frazier Ave. To contact him, call 559-562-3743 or visit www.lindsaychristianchurch.org.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.