Monday, July 22, 2013

Why Do We Call It A "Worship Service?"

True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
John 4:23

Sunday ≠ Worship Service

This week I got into a conversation with a friend on why many churches call their Sunday gatherings "worship services," when in fact the New Testament never refers to a gathering of believers as such. Let me say that again for those of you who did not catch it: The New Testament NEVER refers to a gathering of believers as a "worship service." But the chances are that your church does call your Sunday gatherings a worship service.

One might wonder why the New Testament never calls it this. Simply put, because worship was a way of living for the New Testament believer. Worship was not something that they came to do on Sunday, but it was who they were, worshippers, seven days a week twenty-four hours a day. In other words worship cannot be confined to a particular time or place such as a Sunday gathering (John 4:23-24).

Sunday = Spurring Service

If we are not going to call our Sunday gatherings a worship service then what should we appropriately call them? More biblically appropriate names would be a "spurring service," "serving service," or an "equipping service." The church in the New Testament focused much more on being participatory than most of our churches today. This is one key aspect of church planting that we focus on in S. Asia. We start out new churches with the new leader doing participatory Bible studies as a way to spur one another on as we see in Hebrews 10:24-25.

This does not mean that they will never preach sermons because we do develop new leaders to become self-feeders and prepare their own lessons, but we try to keep it as New Testament as possible, which means keeping the participatory aspect in the new churches. This is one reason I am not a fan of a church that does two to three separate teaching (i.e. Sunday school, morning sermon, night sermon) on a Sunday that allows for very little obedience, but only produces spectators.

Returning to The New Testament

So, what does your church call its Sunday gatherings? And, why? Should we not return to the New Testament idea of spurring one another on through participation with one another? This week instead of attending the Sunday gathering as a mere worship spectator, participate in some way and encourage your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to depart from the gathering for worship.

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