Summary: Discussion of the fact that much of what we use in worship isn't mandated by Scripture: pulpits, crosses on the wall, buildings, even sermons and music. So what is necessary, according to Scripture?
Worship – What is Necessary?
July 25, 2010
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEY'S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
Today’s service is going to be a bit different. But I’m guessing you’ve already figured that one out.
The most obvious “different-ness” is the sanctuary. The crosses are gone, the pulpit and the rest of the sanctuary furnishings are gone.
If I could have removed the baptistery and piano I would have done that as well.
Even the format of the sermon portion will be a bit different.
I usually use an outline format that I think helps me to communicate to you, but today it’s going to be a dialog.
I’ll be sharing some things, but I’m going to ask you to participate as we not only read some Scriptures aloud, but as I ask you some questions and wait for responses.
We’re going to talk about worship, but more than that, my hope is that we will worship, and all the more intentionally as we go without some of the trappings of our normal service.
By the way, this set-up isn’t permanent, so I don’t want you to panic.
I like having the cross, and the pulpit, if for no other reason than that it gives me a place to put my Bible and notes, although I could just as easily do that with a table or music stand, and to be totally honest, I feel like the prayer railing separates us too much and gives the impression that the people on the platform are somehow special, which I don’t believe at all.
But I want us to see that worship is not in the external things, but it is essentially an internal thing.
Allow me to start by reading this from Pastor Wesley Bishop, pastor of a Wesleyan Church in North Carolina:
Worship is a broad term. Some have said that it defies explanation. Merriam-Webster defines worship as, “to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power” or “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion” following up with “to perform or take part in worship or an act of worship.”
Three thesaurus entries for worship include: revere, adore and love. Rick Warren in The Purpose-Driven Life says, “Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.”
Ralph Martin states, “Worship is the dramatic celebration of God in his supreme worth in such a manner that his worthiness becomes the norm and inspiration of human living.”
William Temples says, “Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose -- and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.” (Pastor Wesley Bishop, from Greenville Wesleyan Church in Greenville, NC, from his sermon, “What is Worship?”. Sermoncentral.com)
The purpose of our time together is not to define worship, although it’s helpful to see that there is no standard definition for it.
The purpose of our time together is show you that it’s possible to worship when we don’t have all the trappings we’re used to having around us.
Because for many people, it’s not worship unless they’ve got all this kind of stuff around. And as we’re about to see, if you need that stuff, then you need examine your heart regarding what worship is all about.
Let’s start by reading this aloud together:
Worship Scripture #1
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they sang:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
14 The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.
In this passage there is no mention of “Church furnishings” like pulpit, prayer railing, communion table, cross, flags, chairs, pews, hymnals or overhead projection.
So here’s the first question I want to ask you today: what do you think is essential in a worship service?