Levi Sisemore, Texas Normal Singing School
You’ll find much diversity amongst churches of all different stripes and “flavors.” Some of the differences are simply matters of taste or expediency; some come from genuinely divergent interpretations of Scripture. Some are right, some are wrong. What you will find within that variety is something which all groups have in common: a regular gathering or assembly. It’s a sociological truth that all groups – Christian or not, even religious or not – are compelled to gather together. Of course, that’s the nature of group, isn’t it (or don’t you find humor in the introvert’s rallying cry: “Introverts of the world, unite! Tomorrow. In your own homes”?)?
Often enough I hear of a believer who will leave the assembly (which is a synonym of “congregation,” as “the assembled” are “the congregated”) of one group to begin assembling with another group (what we call “changing churches”), citing as the reason for his move that the “worship style” or the components of worship in the one assembly no longer move or excite him, and he must go somewhere that speaks to his inner-self. “It’s boring at my old church, I needed something new.” Sometimes instead of moving churches, the church itself moves to an entirely different “worship style” – the same thing is accomplished, though, as we end up seeking fulfillment through our own preference and performance of worship.
Allow me to suggest that this is shallow. This week I was reading Worship by the Book (D.A. Carson, 2010) and was impressed again by the role of the heart in worship:
“What is clear is that if you try to enhance ‘worship’ simply by livening the tempo or updating the beat, you may not be enhancing worship at all. On the other hand, dry-as-dust sermons loaded with clichés and devoid of the presence of the living God mediated by the Word do little to enhance worship either. What we must strive for is growing knowledge of God and delight in him—not delight in worship per se, but delight in God” (p. 32).
We don’t necessarily improve worship by changing up the externals, but we cannot help but improve our worship and appreciation of God by changing up the internals. Whether in a beautiful building with many talents or alone under a tree, worship is enhanced and improved as the heart is refined towards godliness. Unless my heart is right with God, nothing else matters.
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!” (Psalm 95:6)