First, I need to be clear. When worship is done to be seen by men, it is not worship; when its purpose is to titillate, to entertain, then it has not reached deeply enough to be worship.
One does not evaluate worship the way a movie critic evaluates a Hollywood film. Worship is far more about self-evaluation than performance. Our worship would not be improved if the singing was done by Celine Dion, or if the sermon was delivered in the mellow tones of James Earl Jones. The purposes of worship, its benefits, are deeper, more abiding, more relevant than mere showbiz.
If people come to your church because you put on a better show, know this, someone soon will put on a better show than you. What brought them to you will also be what you lose them to.
But our worship should have these two qualities:
First, could we please act as if worship is a vital and deeply rewarding moment in our week? How do we explain row upon row of members yawning, checking their cell phones, or stonily refusing to sing the hymns? Outside of laryngitis, is there an adequate explanation for this behavior in the presence of Almighty God?
Second, could we make worship more thoughtful? I don’t mean more sensational, simply more thought-out and edifying. Can it be done with a little prayer and thought without it becoming unbiblical or self-serving? We would think poorly of a preacher who had not prepared his remarks. Why do we put up with (yes, this is the term I want to use), conducting worship continually the same way every time?
- Why could a song leader not select his songs along a biblical theme?
- Why could we not assign four prayers, one of thanksgiving, one for the sick and those in need, one for the church and her prosperity, and one for the souls of the world?
- Why could we not use four or five short Bible readings on a theme, perhaps even the ones the preacher will use?
- Why do we not make the offering “separate and apart” from the Lord’s Supper by, well, making it separate and apart with an appropriate song?
There are a multitude of ways that we could, biblically, make our worship well thought out. This is not cold and calculated; planning can be carried out from the deepest recesses of our hearts. Why do we think that the terms spontaneous and sincere are synonyms? The term “random preparation” is an oxymoron.
I am ready for worship that is thoughtful, edifying, yet biblical. I think we owe our congregations this kind of worship; I think the Lord deserves the best that we have.
“So what am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also. I will sing with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also” (1 Corinthians 14:15).