On Friday morning of the Convocation, Bishop David Simpson spoke on the challenges of convergence worship and three temptations regarding those challenges. Today, I want to share my thoughts on two of those temptations – but relating to the church universal and not to convergence worship. My thanks to Bishop Simpson for kick-starting my thoughts on these two temptations.
Temptation # 1: Rejecting the old in favor of the new.
I believe many churches have rejected the “old” over the past two decades. The old traditional hymns, the serving of the Eucharist, the “community” of believers found in the church. Instead, church became “seeker friendly.” In other words, the church tried to adopt itself to the world in an effort to bring more people into their membership. Please understand that I am not criticizing or judging other churches. I understand the desire to see your church grow. I have just started my 15th year as a Church Business Administrator. I know what it is like to need more people to volunteer for the various ministries of the church. I definitely know what it is like to need people who are faithful to tithe so that the church can pay the utilities every month. There is nothing inherently wrong with having praise bands or drama teams or a dance ministry. These and other groups can add tremendously to the worship services. But when the Table of the Lord is moved off of the center of the altar so that a motorcycle can be ridden through the sanctuary up onto the altar, the church has gone too far. When giving your tithes and offerings, which is an act of worship in and of itself, becomes a convenient drive-by drop-off, the church has gone too far. I am saying that when churches mix the world and the world’s attitudes with their worship, teaching and preaching, they have gone beyond “rejecting the old in favor of the new.” Instead of the 11 AM Worship Hour, we now have the 11 AM Entertainment Hour. And the pendulum between old and new has swung far to the left. We need to bring it back to the center by going back to the basics – the hymns, the serving of the Eucharist more than once a quarter, the table of the Lord front and center of the altar, fellowshipping and being a family together. Then when these things are re-established, add the praise band with some current worship songs or the occasional dance in worship. The entire point of this rambling is to say that the church needs to get its focus back on God during worship. That is what will draw people into the church.
Temptation # 2: Avoid the smorgasbord approach.
This statement applies to us in at least two ways. First, we cannot take a smorgasbord approach to the Bible. We can’t pick and choose from the Bible what we like and what we don’t like. Those Scriptures we like we apply to our lives and the Scriptures we don’t like we ignore. It doesn’t work that way. All of the Scriptures – every verse in every book – applies to all of us.
We can’t use the smorgasbord approach to church either. We can’t pick and choose what part of our church’s programs we like and will participate in. That’s not to say that we serve on every committee, show up every time the doors are unlocked. What it does mean is we support our church with our attendance on Sundays, our prayers through the week and our tithes every pay day. We give of our talent and our time. We support our pastor through prayers and encouragement. We do not have “roast pastor” for lunch on Sunday. We support our Rector’s Council, or Elders or Board of Deacons – whatever your church calls the governing authority of the church – with our prayers. We participate in the activities of the church. Most importantly, we pray and ask God what He wants us to do in the church. We ask Him to show us our place in the church. Then we are obedient to His call.
I am sure there are more temptations when it comes to being involved in the church; pray about this and ask God to show you where and when you are falling prey to temptation. Ask for and receive forgiveness and then choose to follow the entire Bible and to fully support your church.