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…
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.
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?
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!
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.