Friday, August 5, 2011

The focus of our worship

I know I am a little late on chiming in on the following issue but I wanted to see how others approached it before I spoke up. Take a look at the video by following this link: "Special needs child removed from NC church".

I have heard others addressing this video and the deplorable actions of the church in regards to the sensitivity the church should have displayed and the manner in which they addressed the woman and her son. But what I have not heard is how this church is simply following the same pattern that many other churches do elsewhere.

In the church's response they noted that "It is our goal at Elevation Church to offer a distraction-free environment for our guests". Notice what their focus is for the worship service...THEIR GUESTS. They spoke nothing of exalting Christ, worshiping God, preaching the Gospel, or hearing the Word of God exposited. Their focus is on man and not God. Because of this, they will logically want to do whatever they can for man with no regard to God and His Word.

So what does this mean for all of us? Simply stated, more churches are guilty of this than we are willing to acknowledge. Of course you do not hear of the extremes of a situation such as this particular one all over, but on a more subtle level it is happening every Sunday in our services. Church leaders are focused on being sensitive to the people without being sensitive to the Word. They do whatever they can to not only make the worship service attractive for everyone but to make it comfortable and worry-free. Yes, this takes place in watered down sermons and cotton candy music, but it usually happens long before either of these begin.

It happens when those well meaning people meet you and your family at the door to escort you to where the nursery is for your youngest ones and tell you how great their children's church is. They pride themselves on the reliability of the workers of these programs and ensure you that you children are not only safe there but that you will be able to enjoy the service without having to worry about them. If, like my wife and I, you keep your children with you in the worship service you are usually met with furrowed brows and awkward glances. Some take it even further by insisting that children are not allowed in the worship service. They tell you how the kids just can't "comprehend" what the Pastor is preaching or how the songs are not on their "level".

Even after insisting that your children remain with you, you have suddenly been marked. During the service the tiniest peep from your family invokes several turning heads and whispers. Halfway through the service someone again approaches you to offer the other option of escorting your children away. Even when you thank them you have the sense that you are no longer welcomed. There are others though that take this to the next level. They not only insist that children not be in the worship service but that if you refuse their offer for nursery of children' church then you are in violation of their church policy.

"Adam, you're just being extreme. I mean, what church in their right mind would ever make children feel like they are not welcomed in the worship service?"

If you really want to know, please send me an email (adam@doulostheou.com) and I will tell you.

The real issue is what the focus of our worship service should be. If we focus on man, then we will do everything we can to please whoever walks into our doors. We will alter the sermon, change the music, create a concert-style atmosphere, offer prizes, and numerous other pragmatic practices.

However, if our focus is on God then we will not be concerned with catering to people. We will seek songs that glorify our Lord. Songs which the entire congregation sings in beautiful unison to. We will delight in the fellowship with others sitting around us. We will love seeing children with their parents in the service, because this is modeled in Scripture (Nehemiah 8; Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20). We will desire to bring children to hear the words of Christ as our Savior Himself desired (Mark 10:13, 14). We will delight in the expositional preaching of God's Word and the centrality of the saving Gospel. We will leave that place carrying with us the continual practice of worship in our personal lives and in our homes with our families.

Before we jump to quickly at this seeker-sensitive church, we must ask ourselves: Who is the focus of our worship?

To God be the glory,
Adam (and family)

1 comment:

  1. Good post, and very important for all of us to consider. I recently met a family who have a son with Down Syndrome, and you can only imagine the experiences they've had with that. Many of the churches they went to had youth programs, but the teachers there all didn't want to touch their son with a nine-foot pole. I've met him, and while you can tell of his condition, and it of course means you have to treat him differently than other people his age, he's perfectly tolerable. Unfortunately, as you pointed out in your post, most churches today are more concerned with making the vast majority happy and making worship a simple "experience" rather than a moment of edification.

    By God's grace they've recently found a church where the youth pastor not only accepts their son as a member of the congregation, but the two are now best friends. It's a pity any church in America can't be like that.

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