the weblog of Alan Knox

Learning to worship together

Posted by on Jul 31, 2008 in edification, gathering, worship | 14 comments

We should worship God. Very few followers of Jesus would disagree with that statement. The question is: How do we worship God when we gather together? Those who are God’s children should worship him with their whole life – 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Again, very few followers of Jesus would disagree with that statement. However, the question remains: How do we worship God when we gather together? Actions may or may not demonstrate our worship of God, depending upon our heart and our motives. Again, few believers would disagree with that statement. But, once again, this question has not been answered: How do we worship God when we gather together?

A few years ago, when I decided the enter the PhD program, this was the question that was on my mind. When I started this blog a couple of years ago, this was the main question that I wanted to tackle. As I’ve studied this question, I’ve learned that it can be answered in many ways, and, the way someone answers this question usually depends on what they think about the church – that is, the nature and essence of the church. Of course, someone’s understanding of the church also demonstrates their understanding of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – especially the resurrection of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. These beliefs and a person’s response to these beliefs are interconnected.

Today, people argue and fight about “worship”. The church argues about the style of music that should be played when the church meets together – but Scripture says nothing about style of music. The church argues about the style of “preaching” that should occur when the church meets together – but Scripture says nothing about style of preaching. The church argues about whether or not an “invitation” should be extended when the church meets together – but Scripture says nothing about “invitations”.

We spend time and money and resources on worship conferences, and leadership seminars, and revival meetings, and guest speakers, and special music, and prayer conferences, and sound system specialists, and aesthetics, and producers… and even if we scour Scripture we will not find these mentioned.

When we finally do turn to Scripture, we start with our practices, and we defend those practices from Scripture through inference. Meanwhile, what we do and what we say and how we act and why we do it and who does it… these things look so much different than what we read about in Scripture. Of course, we chalk it all up to culture, until we want to defend something that we do.

When it comes to salvation, we take what Scripture says very literally: Repent! ok. Confess that Jesus is Lord! ok. Be baptized! ok.

When it comes to our relationships with one another, we take what Scripture says literally: Love one another! sure. Forgive one another! yes. Serve one another! right away.

But, when it comes to gathering together with other believers, that’s a different story: Do everything for edification! well… Admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs! don’t we sing to God? Consider how to stir up one another to love and good works! that’s only for a small church; we’re too big for that… Exhort one another daily! that’s not my responsibility.

I think the church needs to learn to worship together. We need to learn what Scripture says – that’s right, start with Scripture – about the meeting of the church. We need to adjust our meetings to what we see in Scripture.

We need to come together to build up one another toward maturity – with everyone prepared to take part. We need to think about how God would use us to encourage others towards love and good works. We need to help one another use our gifts to serve each other, thereby bringing glory to God – yes, even the newest believers. The more mature believers (leaders) need to lead by example, not by doing and saying everything – sometimes leading by example means getting out of the way. We need to stop making excuses for why we are not following the teachings of Scripture.


14 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 7-31-2008

    Lovely brother

  2. 7-31-2008

    Amen Alan.

  3. 7-31-2008

    Alan,

    “I think the church needs to learn to worship together.”

    How very true!

    When this happens we will find that worship, according to Scripture, is a whole of life heart attitude,not something performed on special days for a time.

    For those who have genuine union with Christ, worship will be demonstrated by a life of discipleship, servant-hood and loving and forgiving relationships,in which edification, encouragement,and exhortation are as normal as breathing.

  4. 7-31-2008

    ah man, another challenge ;)

  5. 7-31-2008

    Alan,

    If your blog posts are indicative of your walk with God (which I believe they are), then I just want to say that I am very encouraged lately with the direction that God is leading you. Since I’ve been reading your blog (over a year) I’ve noticed your posts have always been filled with love, humility, knowledge, and encouragement. But recently, your action and encouragement of others’ action has stood out…way out. Your actions may seem to you like a pebble tossed into a pond, but the ripples are spreading far and wide. Critics can argue your theology, ecclesiology, and any other ‘ology, but are drowned out in the wake of your action.

    “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and {so} prove to be My disciples. John 15:8
    Jeff

  6. 7-31-2008

    Lionel, Mark, and Jeff (Greathouse),

    Thanks for the comments and the encouragement. Now… can we meet as the church as described in Scripture?

    Aussie John,

    “[E]dification, encouragement,and exhortation are as normal as breathing.” Yes! Absolutely! This is what the Spirit does through us if we allow him to.

    Jeffrey (E.W.),

    Your words mean more than I can express. I pray that what you say is true in my life. Thank you.

    -Alan

  7. 7-31-2008

    alan:

    if i am going to be honest, it will probably not occur at my church this sunday

  8. 7-31-2008

    Alan

    I would agree that there are things in the church that are counter to what the Bible says but I think there is some freedom with regard to worship in respect to things that are not in the Bible. For instance, the Bible doesn’t mention sound systems but I don’t think there is anything wrong with having one. We certainly can’t sing any of the psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs they sang because we have no idea about their performace practices (translation from music geek speak-what the music sounded like).

    Thanks for your encouragement.

  9. 7-31-2008

    Jeff,

    I understand. We can’t control other people. The question is, when we as individuals come together with other believers, will we (individually) be prepared to edify them, and ready to encourage and enable them to edify us? I’ve learned that as I interact with others as Scripture describes, others begin to follow my example.

    Joe,

    Sound systems or no sound systems… like you said, it doesn’t matter. But, if our concern over sound systems and performances keeps us from following Scripture, then there’s a problem. We can have a great sound system and wonderful performance that everyone likes… but that doesn’t make our meeting scriptural or edifying.

    -Alan

  10. 7-31-2008

    Alan,

    I concur.

  11. 8-1-2008

    Alan,

    I want to echo Jeffrey EW's comments. Our family separated from institutional meetings almost two years ago because of convictions you are expressing here. If it is extra-biblical, why are we doing it & more importantly, why aren’t we doing the things we see in scripture? Your writings (and Steve S.) have been a source of exhortation and encouragement to me amidst a lot of rock-throwers out there who can easily criticize men leading man-made programs, but not show me the more excellent way.

    So, I wanted to say thank you brother and afford you honor for laboring in the Word and doctrine.

  12. 8-2-2008

    Eric,

    Like I said to Jeff, you honor me more than I could ever express. My desire is that my words and my life bring glory to God and help his children.

    -Alan

  13. 8-11-2008

    Sigh. I only wish you and your family lived here in Charlotte. I’m so longing to meet with folks like you here in my own community.

    Vicki in Charlotte

  14. 8-11-2008

    Vicki,

    I’ve talked with alot of people who are in your situation. If you want to talk about this, send me an email. My email address is in the right sidebar at the top of my blog.