2007-11-15

Worship and Evangelism

Fide-O has an interesting point:
Recently I had was blessed to discuss with some brothers the evangelistic power found in a church that truly worships. In recent decades, seeker-churches had "dumbed-down" their worship services to try to appeal to the world. They even used secular songs, skits and drama, stand-up comedians and so forth to try to communicate the gospel to non-believers who attended their Sunday worship.

The problems with such a worship service are numerous. For one, worship on the Lord's Day should edify the saints not entertain the lost. Christians meet on the Lord's Day to worship not to put on a show or "do" evangelism. Secondly, such tactics actually cloud the truth of the Gospel rather than effectively communicate it. "Worldly" worship services ultimately fail to communicate the transcendence and holiness of God, remove any message of "transformation" from the Gospel, and turn the church into a community just like the world rather than a community of faith.

But with that said, I truly believe that if we lead our churches into true biblical worship then the Gospel will be powerfully communicated to all unbelievers who are present in the congregation. There is nothing more redemptively powerful than a transcendent, holy God meeting with people. We should design our worship services to exalt God and edify His people. And while we worship we should be so gracious as to explain the elements of our worship that all who are in attendance may fully understand the Gospel in our worship. When God's people worship sinners should be converted.
In other words, sinners are more likely to hear about Christ and the Gospel from a regular "Biblical" church service than from a special outreach service. The reason is obvious - regular "Biblical" public worship will always present the Gospel in the context of the church body and is able to balance out the needs of the individual and the needs of the group, while the evangelistic service removes the importance of the church and focuses solely upon the individual. Moreover, the evangelistic service is essentially a "throwback" of 19th century revivalism whereby the church service is replaced by a revival meeting.

It is the Gospel that saves, and it is the power of the Holy Spirit working through the preaching of the Gospel that makes us persevere. The Gospel should always be central in public worship: it should be explicit in every single Biblical sermon that is preached since the Bible's message is ultimately about Christ; it should be explicitly present in the songs we sing since we sing praise to the God who has saved us; it should be explicitly present in our public prayers because it is only because God has saved us that God can listen to us.

Yet the irony is that if a church service simply becomes a revivalist meeting, the Gospel message ends up being distorted or misunderstood since it is not proclaimed in the context of the Gospel's natural result - the church.

It's not that I'm against evangelistic meetings. I think they're fine if they're useful. But have them on a Friday night or some other time. Churches should not get into a situation in which they replace public worship with evangelistic meetings.

1 comment:

Jason E. Robertson said...

The funny thing is, the brothers I was talking to did not believe in either revivalism or in the kind of service D.A. Carson was describing in the audio on my post.

In other words, some guys are so sensitive to not being seeker-sensitive that they claim that we should not even consider or address the unbeliever in our worship services. They say that all the focus should be on (1) God and (2) God's people.

I think that this is an over-reaction to the seeker-sensitive movement. I think we should preach the gospel with such clarity that both the believer is challenged and the unbeliever is convicted.