Tell the Story
Featuring David Brown Posted on April 25, 2008
Several years ago, a fellow staff member came to me after a service and expressed how he thought the service “got there.” At first, I was excited because the perceived “goal” had been reached, but the more I reflected upon the idea of “getting somewhere” in corporate worship, the more dissatisfaction occurred. My dissatisfaction was rooted in the fact that the evaluation of corporate worship, including every method which had been used, was entrenched in a type of personal experience. How one person felt during a few moments determined their worship experience. For the single mom with three children who barely made it to church on time, her worship was judged according to what the “mood” of the morning. For the couple whose marriage was on the brink of divorce, worship never “got there” because of distractions. The examples of worship being based upon a temporal, emotional experience are numerous in today’s churches but Biblically inaccurate.
In the New Testament, the believers gathered together not to receive an emotional high but to proclaim the mighty work of God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The essence of their worship was built upon a testimony to the power of Christ and how that power was changing lives on a daily basis. How had He moved in believers’ lives during the past week? What had the power of the risen Christ done to impact non-believers through the work of the worshiping community? When the early believers came together, they encouraged one another towards being like Christ and anticipating His return. Despite how they “felt,” the early believers were always concerned with proclaiming Christ, which was very emotional, but their emotions never became the judge of God-honoring worship.
Churches in the twenty-first century must develop a healthy theology of worship that allows for services to be evaluated with Biblically-grounded principles. In reality, I do not see Peter and the apostles sitting around after a worship service comprehending if they “got there” in worship. One thing was always certain during the early believers worship, they proclaimed Christ at all costs. This type of lifestyle worship was a daily cost of comfort that encompassed more than the corporate assembly.
Transitions and creative elements are very important in connecting to a constantly-changing culture, but one of the reasons why more believers do not know “how” to worship is possibly because they have not been taught one of the single most important factors in Biblical worship, testify to the power of Christ. Believers are to re-tell the story of Christ despite how they feel. In fact, no one who dies to him or her self is ever comfortable but still chooses to take up their cross as an act of worship. A local church can always proclaim the message of Christ despite a “mood” or “feeling” and in so doing, glorify the Center of worship.