Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Moving Beyond the Worship Service - Justin Baeder at The Ooze

I find it remarkable that the worship service has survived the two largest worldview shifts to impact the Western church.

The central gathering has remained essentially unchallenged since Constantine.   Having people attend a worship service as the primary way of doing church communicates that being a Christian is about passively attending to someone else’s ministry efforts.  There is little room for any involvement by the average person, save for trivial roles such as ushering, the occasional prayer or scripture reading, and, of course, paying for everything.

Perhaps the most destructive effect of the worship service is to convince us that it’s all there is to church – there are no other legitimate gatherings.  Perhaps the modern church does not realize the diversity and beauty of the spiritual practices that the church has engaged in through the centuries.

We find ourselves inheriting a worship service that has seen no fundamental format change in 1700 years, and there is no room for valuable practices that don’t fit the paradigm. I’m suggesting not that we do worship in a certain way, but that we free ourselves from thinking it has to be the same four or five elements every week.  Even so-called "emergent churches" seem to have swallowed the worship service paradigm relatively whole.

Do a Bible word search for “service” and see if any reference is made to a Sunday gathering. You’ll find references to helping others, making personal sacrifices, and suffering for the Kingdom of God. Likewise with “worship.” You will not find references to a formalized gathering of passive Christians who have paid top dollar to sit and absorb their spirituality for the week. We have invented the worship service, and made it the essential activity of the Christian faith.

The full article is available here