Category Archives: Articles on Worship

Worship and the “Mixt Congregation”

Worship and the “Mixt Congregation”

The great shift in worship over the last century has been the result of evangelical clergy in America seeking to make the worship of the church more palatable to the so-called “unchurched.” This is without dispute. The church growth gurus have urged Christian ministers to engineer the style and “aesthetic” of evangelical worship so those… Continue Reading

Votes From the Democracy of the Dead

Votes From the Democracy of the Dead

This entry is part 50 of 50 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The idea of ordinate affection is not welcome today. Narcissism has become a celebrated virtue, and is now even given the monikers transparent, authentic, and real. The two ditches of sentimentalism and brutality now take up most of the road and a slender middle path of appropriate love is known by few and trod by fewer.… Continue Reading

Affect or Effect

Affect or Effect

This entry is part 2 of 50 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The difference between affections and emotions is seen in what art is used in worship. Since worship uses art, worship leaders can use it in precisely one of these two ways: to affect us, or to create effect. They can work with poetry, music and the spoken word to work with the imagination. There the… Continue Reading

Orderly Worship

Orderly Worship

While the New Testament does not contain any examples or prescriptions of particular liturgies, Paul does address the matter of service order in 1 Corinthians 14:26–33: What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.… Continue Reading

The Theo-logic of Heavenly Worship

The Theo-logic of Heavenly Worship

In the book of Revelation, God granted the apostle John a look into the temple of heaven. As with Isaiah during the reign of King Uzziah (Isaiah 6), it is no accident that this vision of heavenly worship came at a time when worship on earth was in chaos. In his vision, John observed God… Continue Reading

He will dress himself for service.

He will dress himself for service.

What is he doing? The servant stared with bewilderment as his master girded up his garment and bent down to the bowl of water. He had done as his lord had commanded—he was dressed and ready for service; the lamps were burning, even though it was already the third watch. He was still awake. He… Continue Reading

Lukewarm

Lukewarm

He spewed the water from his mouth. Disgusting! He had recently come from his home in Colossae. There he regularly enjoyed cool, refreshing water from the spring. He had often taken it for granted. I should have remembered, he thought picking up the cup he had dropped to the ground. I’m not home anymore. The… Continue Reading

What Does “Sacrament” Mean?

What Does “Sacrament” Mean?

Like ancient Israel, early Christians considered worship on the Lord’s Day to be sacred—set apart from the regular, mundane activities of life, and therefore what took place in corporate worship was also sacred. This day was “the Lord’s” in a way different from all other days, and the eucharist was a table belonging to the… Continue Reading

Tax Collectors and Sinners

Tax Collectors and Sinners

There was commotion at the windows. What are they doing here? he thought. He had not expected to meet this famed teacher, let alone dine with him at his table. He had been minding his own business, collecting taxes for the Romans. It was his job; sure, he took a little off the top, but… Continue Reading

Sources for Discerning Early Church Worship

Sources for Discerning Early Church Worship

After the close of the New Testament Scriptures, details concerning how, exactly, Christians worshiped are somewhat difficult to determine. However, several early documents do help to elucidate some of what characterized church gatherings. These include letters from important church leaders like Clement of Rome (35–99), Ignatius in Antioch (c. 35–107), Polycarp (69–155), Clement of Alexandria… Continue Reading

Abide

Abide

It was a strong vine, surging with health and life. The vine dresser moved along the length of the vine, carefully fingering each branch. He had come to know these branches through the years. He knew their needs, and tended to them with the love of a father. He stopped. He reached in and fingered… Continue Reading

The Lord’s Day

The Lord’s Day

An early second-century letter from Ignatius, one of the first pastors of the church in Antioch, helps to solidify that the first day of the week became for Christians their primary day of worship and that they referred to it as “the Lord’s Day.” The phrase “Lord’s Day” appears only once in the New Testament… Continue Reading

Biblical Authority in Worship Practice

Biblical Authority in Worship Practice

One important principle articulated in several places in the New Testament was an emphasis upon the importance of biblical authority for worship practices. Usually these kinds of discussions came in the context of confronting the legalism of the Jewish religion. During his ministry, Jesus had already condemned the adding of religious practices not prescribed in… Continue Reading

Accepted

Accepted

I cannot be here. I should not be here. He knew he was unworthy. He could hardly lift his head. The sound was almost deafening. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!” It was a sound unlike he had ever heard before, yet also strangely familiar. Terrifying, yet comforting all at the same time.… Continue Reading

Worship in the Assembly

Worship in the Assembly

While the book of Acts gives examples of early churches gathering for worship—Scripture reading, preaching, prayer, and the Lord’s Table—the rest of the New Testament further emphasizes this central purpose for church meetings. In particular, several ways in which the New Testament authors describe the church and what it does when it gathers clearly identify… Continue Reading

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a unique Christian addition to corporate worship, though it finds roots in the Passover meal. The book of Acts describes the meal as “the breaking of bread” (2:42, 46; 20:7–11), and Paul says that he passed on what he calls “the Lord’s supper” (1 Cor 11:20) to the church, having received… Continue Reading

No Access

No Access

The king raged with fury. How dare they say I have no right to be here? he steamed. I have done right in the sight of God. He has blessed me. He thought of all the rich spoils of battle adorning his chambers. I have grown strong. My fame has spread far. I deserve to… Continue Reading

Singing and Making Melody

Singing and Making Melody

In both Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, Paul commands gathered believers to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, thereby “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph 5:19) and “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col 3:16). Scholars disagree as to the exact meaning of the three terms psalms, hymns,… Continue Reading

An Unlikely Invitation

An Unlikely Invitation

The man was a scoundrel, certainly not worthy of the invitation he had just received. He had stolen before—he had even stolen from the king’s treasury. And now he was eyeing the fat purse on the richly-dressed nobleman headed his way on the main road, when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Oh no,… Continue Reading

Memorial

Memorial

The requirement for Israel of specific times and rituals for worship, both weekly and annually, established a fundamental principle for God’s people that did not end with Israel. God’s creation of these worship days and festivals was not arbitrary; rather, in establishing these days, God clearly articulated their purpose. For example, when God founded the… Continue Reading