When Worship Becomes Habitual (by Andy Hynes)

by Guest Blogger on May 6, 2013 · 13 comments

Have we turned worship into a ritual?  Is worship something we have shown our people is a process they go through on Sunday morning?  Has worship become a concert we attend each Sunday?  I think we are suffering from decades of worship that has placed man as the center and not Christ.

Here are the areas I think we are hurting in the most…

Baptism

There are certain denominations that teach a baptismal regeneration.  This is not a biblical concept, as if that shocks anyone.  But the doctrine is out there.  As Baptists, I think we have fled so far to the other extreme that we “over” simplify the purpose of baptism.  We are biblical on the method and meaning.  However, the significance leaves much to be desired.   As Jesus commanded in Matthew 28, in making disciples we were to “baptize” them in the name of the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”  There was great significance in baptism, otherwise Jesus would not have emphasized to draw it out as an essential aspect to disciple making.

Lord’s Supper

Another area of our worship that has lacked is the worship of the Lord’s Supper.  Once again, to avoid a resemblance of the salvific purposes of it, we have diminished it to a quarterly task.  Usually the same message is preached, the same methodology is performed, and on we go.  There is an overall lack of significance to the worship of the Lord’s Supper.  When I read the initial Supper, I see something that had great significance for the disciples.  It was going to be the one thing that Jesus was leaving as a symbol of the His death.  Acts 2:42 tells us the church turned the breaking of bread into a fellowship meal, used to remember the work of Christ on the cross.  I wonder if we personally dealt with the Lord’s Supper in a more worshipful way, if we could lead our people to as well?

Song Worship

This is perhaps the main area someone thinks of when they think “worship.”  It is, however, only one component to worship.  This, maybe more than any other, is where I think we have tried to “adapt” to the culture in order to “reach” people.  We have transformed our stages into concert sets.  With fancy light shows, painted walls, drapes, etc.  We look to include musicians who are more “talented” and yet have no connection or investment in our local body.  The song part of worship has been turned into a performance, instead of leading people to sing praises to God. I am not saying these things are “wrong.” However, if we use or see them as the “tool” to attract people to our church, then we MUST be concerned about that kind of motivation!

Preaching

You might ask how I think this has been turned into a routine.  Well, I think whenever a pastor preaches sermon after sermon and never gets to the heart of the text, then it is a man-centered approach.  When we are more concerned about modifying someone’s behavior than worshiping Christ, then there is a problem.  There is a reason why the Bible was written where, when, how, etc. that it was.  The work of the pastor is to spend exhaustive amounts of hours searching out those truths.  Discovering what and why the particular words were used, and why the particular setting was where it was.  THEN you can be faithful to draw application to your church and your setting.  So much of the preaching today is ALL application, which in my estimation is all about the MAN, and not about Christ.

Ultimately does our worship lead us to say, “Certainly you are God’s Son?” (Matt. 14:32).  Or as Jesus quotes Isaiah in Matthew 15:8-9, that their lips gave attribution to God, but their hearts were FAR from Him.   This is not an impossible ship to turn around.  However, it will take a concerted effort on our part to see worship come back to the heart of God, and stop being a ritual.

 

1 Bruce H. May 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Andy,

Don’t we worship with our tithes and offerings, too? That is really downplayed for the most part. In Sunday School we fill out the envelop and check off the various items we did faithfully through the week or we wait for the offering plate to be passed during the services. It becomes a grudging habit, too.

All of the things you mentioned I have fought with in my personal life. I desire to change them up and make them different in order to stay away from becoming traditionalistic. When I do that I am really acting in the flesh. I am trying to feel something when obedience needs to be the worship from me. I think if I am walking in the Spirit I am worshiping through each event. I have come to the conclusion that we do not need a 5 hour worship energy drink to feel better. Just do what you do at the time you do it and wait for the Spirit to change our traditionalistic fears. Once we get past needing the right feeling we may understand what obedience is all about.

This verse came to mind as I read your post. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” John 3:6 By walking in the Spirit we don’t miss the worship. Worship doesn’t necessarily have to be what we think if we are walking in the will of God. I am not disagreeing with you. I went through being different and it didn’t work for me.

I mean what I said in a nice way.

2 Christiane May 6, 2013 at 8:17 pm

I am not able to understand what you mean here:

” By walking in the Spirit we don’t miss the worship. “

3 Bruce H. May 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Christiane,

Where are we when we walk in the Spirit? “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

It seems to me that, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13 How do we worship without the Spirit? “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23, 24

4 Christiane May 6, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Hi BRUCE H.

thank you for your gracious response . . . I appreciate the time and effort you took very much

I think I understand your meaning better.
And old Irish blessing speaks of this: “May God give you to drink from the sacred well of the Trinity”
The gospels speak of the ‘living water’ that leads men to faith in Our Lord and thus is more powerful than just the understandings of men:

Those who walk in the Spirit are strengthened to speak the WORDS that point towards Christ.
These WORDS, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, are tuned to that sacred vibration that awakens a response in the hearts of those who hear them . . .

those words are often best heard when they come from the humble people who understand ‘I must decrease, that He will increase’
and are heard by those whose own humility has made a place within themselves for the Presence of the Holy One to come and reside . . .

‘deep speaks unto deep in the roar of waters’ and those among us who have come to a place of repentance will be forever blessed:

““ I hear a murmur
of living water
that whispers within me
‘Come, Come to the Father’”.

5 Dean May 7, 2013 at 8:18 am

Bruce, you didn’t get the memo brother, the tithe is taboo now. :) You make an excellent point about worship through giving. I remember several years ago realizing that my tithe was part of my bill paying process with no worship involved at all. It had become exactly as Andy describes in his article. I repented of that publicly and teach it as a time of worship every Sunday during offering.

6 Bruce H. May 7, 2013 at 8:48 am

Thanks, Dean.

I heard a sermon titled, “How to Rob God Without A Gun” based on Malachi 3:8. The more I pondered it, I realized how perplexed our thinking is about earning money. What we have left over after the tithe and offering has been graciously given by God. Nothing is ours outside the provision of God because we do not “earn”, that’s a works mentality. That changed my whole way of living and thinking. I now work as unto the Lord.

7 Jess Alford May 7, 2013 at 11:31 am

There is no such animal as tithes, we worship when we give. When we give, we ought to have a thankful heart, and say Thank you Lord for allowing me to do this. Thank you Lord for allowing me to give something back to you.

8 Bruce H. May 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

Sorry, Jess. Our money is not earned, it is given by God. Our response comes from that standpoint. It didn’t change because of grace. It is now through grace we give what is not ours, but His. Nothing we have is ours.

“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:7,8

9 Jess Alford May 7, 2013 at 11:58 am

Bruce,

Acts 5:4

10 Bruce H. May 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Jess,

Not to be conflictive, but, wages would be different than resale of property. I am sure one could tithe or provide an offering on both. I just do not see them the same.

My point is that we do not give to God. It is already His and we return a 10th or more or an additional offering. Does it not seem odd that Malachi 3:8 would ask the question, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” Can you show me where the ownership of our money has changed since then? I do not think we own anything. That should be the way we think and live here on earth.

11 Ed B May 6, 2013 at 8:37 pm

I agree with you. When it comes to the Lord’s Supper, it seems at times we have been more concerned with communicating what we do not believe rather than simply worshiping our Lord through the ordinance. It is unnecessary to define who we are NOT. That has been a pet peeve of mine for many years and it is not a problem unique to Baptists.

We know the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine throughout the process, but these are symbolic of the body and blood of Christ and should be treated with the respect we would give the actual body and blood. After studying Leviticus over the past several weeks I am even more taken with the significance of Christ offering His blood to the disciplines at the last supper. In addition to the sprinkling of blood to cleanse, consecrate, sanctify, and redeem, I think the symbolism would have been striking to the disciples who knew from Leviticus that the life of any living thing is in its blood. Christ was symbolically offering his very life in the cup and for the first time they were instructed to consume blood, but not just any blood, His blood (symbolically of course). There is real meaning here and it is a very worshipful time. We shouldn’t throw that away for fear of someone misunderstanding us as being in agreement with transubstantiation, consubstantiation or even real presence. Those doctrines should not be the point of reference for our worship in our churches.

12 Bob Cleveland May 6, 2013 at 10:15 pm

I think, by and large, we’re not taught to expect anything more than the doing. We don’t expect anything to actually happen when we do the things we do in the service.

For me, it took a couple of years exposure to the AoG, in prayer meetings every week coupled with the occasional Sunday night service. It set me free to worship Him as the original languages meant. Once that thing happens, then you can truly worship in the most routine settings that we’re all so used to.

Oh .. on the matter of Baptism … at Pentecost, when Peter preached his brief sermon to the assembled masses, it represented the first time in the history of the world that we had an incarnate Jesus, crucified and risen, ascended, and the coming of the indwelling Holy Ghost. And salvation by faith in Jesus. Yet when they asked Peter what they must to … at a time when I’d expect we’d hear the clearest, most unclouded, concise description of what’s necessary for salvation, devoid of any of man’s subsequent inventions, he said “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins.” I wonder if our modern practice (and teaching) isn’t missing something.

13 Jess Alford May 7, 2013 at 11:48 am

Andy, I couldn’t agree more. Everything has turned into a ritual. One change can upset the stars and planets. The stars will burn out, and the
planets will stop revolving around the sun. All hell will be unleashed upon the Earth. The continents will be swallowed up by the ocean.

God forbid, there is one little change.

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