After reading Mark Batterson’s book Primal, I started thinking quite a bit about the “stuff” that gets accumulated in our walk with Christ. Especially church traditions.
I find it amazing that neither Jesus nor Paul nor Peter nor any other biblical writer gave us a format for how we should “do” church. Over time we’ve just come to expect that a church service will have some songs, announcements, an offering time, some special music, and a sermon. But even changing the order of the service is so jarring to some people that they treat it like one of the Ten Commandments has been broken.
We can’t just keep doing church the way we’ve always done church. Sometimes we need to step back to ask, “Why do we do what we do?”
So I’ve been spending some time reading through the book of Psalms. I want to get back to the essence of worship.
- What is it?
- Is it just singing songs? If so, what songs?
- Is there a style that is more God-honoring?
- What instruments should we use? Should we even use instruments at all?
- Do we sing hymns? Choruses? Both? Neither?
- Does music only come at the beginning and the ending of a service?
Since I love sports, I frequently go back to sports analogies. Several years ago I read David Maraniss’ excellent biography on Vince Lombardi. Every year the Green Bay Packers coach went into pre-season drills with a stronger and stronger passion to win. Here’s how Maraniss describes it:
“He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before. He reviewed the fundamentals of blocking and tackling, the basic plays, how to study the playbook. He began with the most elemental statement of all. ’Gentleman,’ he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, ’this is a football.’”
“Folks, this is worship…”
- I know it can involve instruments, but it can also be acapella.
- I know it can be loud shouts, but it can also be quiet whispers.
- I know it can be hymns written 150 years ago, but it can also be spontaneously composed.
- I know it can open a service, but it can also be throughout a service, or even at the close of a service.
- I know it can be in a church, but it can also be in a grocery store.
I know it is highly personal.
I know it is based on what attributes of God I have experienced firsthand.
I know God loves it when I worship Him.
As for the other details, well, I’m still wrestling with that.