Dear BPCWAians, Continuing from the last 3 weeks, we will look yet at another fundamental purpose for the local church.
(4) The Promotion of Godly Worship. These days, people often decide to attend or stay on in a church based upon the church’s worship style. Some leave because they’re “not used” to our worship style, being used to another back in their home countries. To many, consciously or unconsciously, the worship style of a church characterises the church they look for. Without needing to read a church’s Confession of Faith and Constitution, its worship service speaks a lot about its view of God, faith, and practices. Worship is faith in practice. It reflects our view of God, because it is about how we approach our LORD in the most official representation of assemblies gathered under His Name. Sadly, the promotion of godly worship is an obvious but often overlooked purpose for the church. The Bible does give instructions about congregations, assemblies, and fellowships of God’s people in the visible local church. We gather every Lord’s Day for the Worship Service. This is God’s visible witness which unbelievers can see when they come into our midst. And how we worship tells others about the character of the LORD that we worship.
Man-centred worship: In today’s Christendom, some under the “Christian” umbrella teach Church leaders how to “transform” the church to be seeker-sensitive. Focussing only on 1 aspect of the church’s purpose, the seeker-sensitive movement (which Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Church” promotes) focuses predominantly on salvation of souls and bringing in the “unchurched”. To do this, churches are taught to replace the traditional Sunday worship service with a service style to suit what unsaved people seek after. Since most people dress up for work all week and want to dress casually on weekends, the church is told to “dress down” and invite everyone to dress informally and casually for worship. Contemporary jazz, rock, pop, sentimental ballads, and folk music is introduced because that is what the flesh of both believers and unbelievers seeks after. Moreover, the message of the seeker-sensitive church is only positive, avoiding mention of sin and repentance. It often mixes human psychology with an inspiring Bible verse which is often taken out of context. Such philosophies and teachings are syncretistic and are man-centred. Many churches exist today for the people, and to bring people in. In catering to man’s likes and dislikes, the church merely becomes a social club to pander to and to entertain man, not for the worship of God. This is the worship of man, music, and self.
God-centred worship: Worship is about man bowing down with deep humility before an Almighty God. Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images”. Hence, God alone must be the focus of the whole Worship Service, and none other. Biblically, the purpose of the church’s worship service is not to please man, but to please God. Every item of the Worship Service, and all who lead and participate in it must have only one focus in mind, and that is to be able to give all glory and praise to God alone. Satan has invented worship styles that “steal the limelight” from God. None must share in the glory which belongs alone to God. The Minister, the Worship Leader, the Interpreters, the Pre-worship Song-leader and the pianist must minimise distractions that may draw the congregation’s attention away from God to themselves. Rather, positively, all that they do, say and play must aid and point the congregation toward God. This applies to the choice and style of music too. Christian worship must speak of and reflect the character of the only true and living God Who is Creator of Heaven and earth, Who is set apart from all others, and Whose glory can never be shared.
Because worship is all about God, everything about our worship must be reverential. The dignity and regard that we give to Him in worship must show how exceedingly great He is above that of any man that we may approach.
This honour is reflected not merely in the church’s order of worship. In worship, we come not as individuals, but collectively as an assembly, a congregation, a people of God. One must not try to “outshine” others with fashion, loud worldly attire, attention grabbing hairdos and the like. Conversely, it is also not for us to come attired carelessly before Him. We must dress as people grateful and reflective of the great redemptive work of Christ. This means dressing chastely, decently and modestly. It also includes dressing appropriately for worship. In Australia, many may slip into slippers and shorts to buy a thing or two from the supermarket. But in worship, we come to offer our thanksgiving and praise to the Creator of Heaven and earth. Having understood all these, let us dress befitting such a worship. Every Sunday, let us give our attention, our energies, our focus to the worship of the Immortal, Invisible, Thrice Holy God. How we worship ultimately reflects our view of God.
Malachi 1:8 “And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, isitnot evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts”. We show respect to our companies, bosses, and officials on earth by how we present ourselves and our attitude when we approach them. How much more should we be in our approach to God?
Yours in our Lord’s service