If you follow me on Twitter (@alan_knox) or if you “like” my Facebook page, then you know that I link to several older posts each day along with linking to my new post of the day. I started linking to this older posts a couple of years ago in order to continue the conversations on those posts, and it has worked tremendously!
For example, yesterday I linked to a post I wrote two years ago called “Why keep the worship service?” Believe it or not, my thoughts about the church began to change drastically when I began to study the “worship service” from the perspective of Scripture. In short, I couldn’t find it. Instead, I found believers gathering in completely different ways from the “worship service.”
In part of that post, Doug writes:
I have questioned the worship service many times myself and have asked others about it. The question of doing away with the worship service is normally met with a look of puzzlement. The idea of not having “church,” in the tradition sense, is just too far of a reach – its a foreign concept to be embraced only by the poor and/or persecuted. Besides, where would the clergy find employment? – (that was some of the cynicism i mentioned)
Before you brush off this question, ask yourself where in Scripture we find a description even remotely similar to the modern “worship service.” For something so important that it defines most church groups today, you would think it would be found somewhere in the New Testament at least… in one of the passages that discusses believers gathering together. But, no.
A few years ago, I made an interesting discovery. During the “Reformation,” Martin Luther took the Roman Catholic Mass and modified it slightly and called it “Divine Service” (i.e., “worship service”). This is the pattern that most Protestant (non-Catholic, non-Orthodox) church groups follow today – both “traditional” and “contemporary.” Oh, sure, there may be differences here and there, but for the most part, it’s the same.
But, guess what? Luther designed this “worship service” for unbelievers, not for the church. Luther did not believe that “true believers” should meet in this way. He had a different kind of gathering in mind for Christians, but he could not find anyone interested in this other kind of meeting. In other words, Luther was suggesting something very similar to how “house”, “organic”, “simple” churches gather today. (For more information about Luther’s different kinds of “divine service” see my posts “Luther and the non-Christian ‘worship service’” and “Luther and the Church.”)
So, I’ll ask the same question that I asked in that earlier post: Why keep the “worship service” for the church?