Thanks for reminding us that worship is broader than music. Far too many believers associate worship with music and how music moves them. You can see this unhealthy connection in phrases like "we had a great time of worship before the message," or "that song was really worshipful." (That last one really gets me - I've even seen that adjective used at the top of sheet music to describe to "feel" of the song).
When I teach on worship I normally divide it into 4 areas: gathered or public, family (if you are not living alone), private, and all-of-life. The all-of-life category is normally the most eye-openeing for people. Many often assume that worship must be a conscious routine of stopping the day, praying, singing, meditating, etc. But according to the Lord we should worship Him all day long.
"pray without ceasing"- 1 Thess 5:17
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." - Col 3:17
We can actually worship God while brushing our teeth, as long as we do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him. ...
Here are two themes that I believe need more modern songs addressing:
- The Word of God (particularly addressing the centrality of its place in worship and pleas for the Lord to transform us by it)
- The role of the Holy Spirit (asking Him to fill and empower us and to quicken our hearts to love God more passionately in worship)
Kevin, I would agree with your advice especially for a new church seeking to establish the centrality and priority of the cross in worship, but would not go so far as to say that I would recommend all churches having weekly communion. As you wrote, none of the reasons you give are biblically normative (I’m not sure I even agree that Acts 2:42-47 is a direct reference to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper). While I agree that communion is a participatory act, so are many other types of activities like responsive scripture readings, singing, or private prayers. All of these things can be expressions of unity with Christ and with one another, albeit not the penultimate expression of unity with Christ. While I agree that it gives us a regular time of commemoration (which is the purpose for the Lord’s Table) I believe that every service of worship should remember the work of Jesus and the cross. We should have “cross-centered worship.” (shamelessly borrowing from the title of my CD!) And I agree that our churches need a weekly time for examination and confession, but that can be accomplished by other means...
I'll admit it. I did it. The blog is only a day or two old and I've already begun to think of "worship in the local church" as primarily dealing with music. I imagine that I'm not the only pastor prone to thinking this way. It is a shame. We prepare the preaching and the songs and assume worship is covered.
Bob Kauflin's post Watts' on Prayer
reminded me that public prayer is an important aspect of God-centered worship in the local church. It is the first in a series of Isaac Watts' teaching on the ministry of prayer. Should be a series worth following. (Mr. Kauflin notes that the issue of public prayer will be addressed at this year’s WorshipGod06 conference
May the Lord help us to take seriously the matter of praying before his people!
When taking Hymnology class in seminary, Dr. Crookshank challenged us to write hymns on themes that are neglected in most hymnals. Since the role of suffering has always been on my heart, I decided to begin composing hymns on the subject. This was the impetus behind Songs for Suffering Saints
Beginning this evening, I plan to post a hymn a day on a neglected topic that, while neglected by hymnody (at least, in my humble opinion), has biblical president for being to topic of the church's song. Tonight's hymn is on the persecuted church. To follow will be hymns on suffering (in general), lament over the condition of God's church, and hell.
Over at An Infant in a Cradle
, I've been blogging on the arrest of Abdul Rahman (see here
) and events such as North Korean Freedom Week
. With the persecuted church weighing heavy on my mind, I want to sing about it. The second verse of this simple hymn has been on my mind.
Let Me Be a Blessing
Let me be a blessing
To my suff’ring friends,
Sharing in their burdens
Even to the end.
In the midst of trials
And their darkest...
Regarding how to transition to weekly communion, I don't have any easy answers. I have the benefit of working in church planting, where we can begin with that pattern. First, I would say that we must teach, and second, we must be patient. I do think that some gradual approach might work. For example, if a church is currently taking the Supper quarterly, the leadership could move it to monthly, and then could gradually celebrate it more often until it eventually is practiced weekly.
I have attended this conference every year (that it has been offered) since some time around 2001 or so. Very often those with reformed convictions also hold to the cessasion of the revelatory gifts of the Holy Spirit (this is probably the case for those on the doxologue, but I'm not sure). It has been my observation that many cessasionists unfairly link these revelatory gifts (like tongues speaking) with emotional, transcendent, and even mystical experiences of worship. It's almost like there is a fear of letting that "charismatic" stuff in the door. While I would have recognized the command to worship God with an emotional response I did little to pursue it both in my private and public worship. Once I found out about how Sovereign Grace was doing the same thing that I was by modernizing historic hymns, I got to know Bob Kauflin, the host of the conference. Once I attended worship at Covenant Life Church and the worship conference that year my view of passionate, biblical worship was expanded an hundred fold. Since then the conferences have served to stoke my vision for how to have and lead passionate...
I like your thoughts on weekly Lord's Supper. I think the benefits far outweigh the potential dangers. Besides, I think the dangers are there regardless of frequency.
I have a question for you on application: How might pastors/congregations implement this without 'upsetting the apple cart' too much, especially for congregations that take the Lord's Supper only quarterly or monthly?
Sometime back I posted this on my blog
. Brothers, give me your thoughts:
For Professor Stam's "The Worshipping Church" class at Southern Seminary, I had to write a paper arguing for or against weekly communion. Below are my arguments.
“Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup…” My advice for a new church would be simple. I’d say with enthusiasm, “Absolutely begin with weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper!” I will give more specific advice in my conclusion as to how a church might best go about it, but I will first give some advantages I see, followed by some disadvantages.
First, weekly observance of the Lord’s supper seems biblical. True, there is not a command given in Scripture regarding the frequency of the ordinance. But it could be argued that weekly observance is biblically normative. Key texts in Acts regarding early church practice seem to indicate that early Christians partook of the Supper weekly, if not daily (Acts 2:42-47; 20:7-12). In addition, early Christian writings such as the Didache and the words of Justin (see WQOTW, 5-6-03) indicate that early fellowships of believers partook of the ordinance more regularly than modern...