TEN MORE WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR CHURCH'S WORSHIP SERVICE
The enthusiastic response to "Ten Ways to Improve Your Church's Worship Service" has encouraged me to write a sequel. If you are unfamiliar with the "Ten Ways" article, you should read it first. While there are some exceptions here, the suggestions in that article, as a whole, are more important than these. You can link to it by clicking here or by pointing your browser to www.SpiritualDisciplines.org/10ways.html .
1. Plan worship only for people who can worship.
Many churches plan their worship services as though unbelievers can worship. But the Apostle Paul makes plain in 1 Corinthians 12:3 that "no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit." Anyone can utter the words, of course, but unless the Holy Spirit indwells a person they cannot say such things as a sincere expression of true worship.
In other words, those who do not know Jesus as Lord (and thus do not have the Holy Spirit) cannot worship God, so why design the worship of God for those incapable of worship? We plan evangelistic services and events for unbelievers; worship services are for believers.
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ELY, MINNESOTAA JOURNAL ENTRY
It was about 1987 when Caffy and I spent a summer's week in a borrowed cabin near Traverse City, Michigan. One afternoon we browsed through a used bookstore. While perusing the "Regional" section of the shop, my attention was arrested by an interesting title, Listening Point. I had no idea at the moment, of course, how the book would change my life.
The author was Sigurd F. Olson. His works were in the "Regional" section because he was from another Great Lakes state, Minnesota. Sig died in the early 1980s while in his own early 80s. Listening Point is one of his best-loved volumes, telling of his decades-long enjoyment of a beautifully rugged, lakeside piece of land near his home at the top of the U.S. map. Olson wrote about remote north country travels and adventures, not Christian books. But Listening Point (and his other works) were so well-written that they kindled within me a desire to visit a place I'd never heard of previously, an area on either side of the Canadian border he called the Quetico-Superior country, better known today as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
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Within the Church
GOD IS GLORIFIED MORE IN CONGREGATIONAL WORSHIP THAN IN PRIVATE WORSHIP
When a football team wins the national championship, it gets more glory if the game is shown to millions throughout the country than if no one but you were to see it individually on closed-circuit TV. An author gets more glory if many others acclaim his book than if you alone were to read the words and praise his work. Public glory obviously brings more glory than does private glory. Likewise, God gets more glory when you worship Him with the church than when you worship Him alone.
The Lord is most glorified when His glory is most declared, not when it is hidden or private. Never will Christ be more glorified than "when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe," and when "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (2 Thessalonians 1:10 and Philippians 2:10-11, italics added). Despite its deficiencies, worship in the church is more like this than is private worship, and thus it brings more glory to God.
If I tell you what a wonderful wife Caffy is, and write it for all who read this book to see, that public praise brings her more glory than if I tell her privately. This is not to minimize the importance of telling her the same when we're alone, for if I don't tell her privately, it won't mean very much to her if I say great things about her to others. That's the way it is with the public worship of God too. "There is no way," says Welsh pastor Geoffrey Thomas, "that those who neglect secret worship can know communion with God in the public services of the Lord's Day." It is right to worship God both alone and with the church, but worshiping God with the church brings Him more glory.
It is very simple: greater glory is given to God when many people sincerely sing together,
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like Me!
than when one person sings this testimony in private. God delights in the devotion of every individual and in each moment of private worship, but we ascribe greater glory to Him when we join our hearts and voices together in a symphony of worship.
[Taken from pages 77-78 of Don's book, Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church.]
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