by Pastor Mike Stine
There is a worship debate in many churches today. Perhaps your own church is one of them. In these churches there are two factions. One side wishes to uphold the rich traditions of the church and that it holds dear. The other side believes that those traditions are outdated and are unable to reach the lost and dying world that we live in today. The debate quickly spins out of control and into “he said, she said” type of argument. At the end of the day, the actual glorification of the Almighty is pushed to the back of everyone’s minds if not forgotten altogether.
Both sides have their points. The church is meant to worship. Our Sunday morning service is typically called a worship service. Also, the Bible instructs us to reach the lost with the message of Christ crucified for our sins. What these two sides don’t realize is that both can be accomplished in one church service and the argument of traditional vs. contemporary does not even have to be brought up.
Every week the church meets and unbelievers are among us. Some have sat in the sanctuary for years and don’t even realize that they’re still lost. Others have wandered into the church for the first time. Why do these people come to church? With the rare exception of some large churches, these people did not come simply to be entertained, because the church has excellent music, or great dramas. These people are in church in an attempt to fulfill an unsatisfied need.
We live in a very spiritual age. It is much like the age about which Paul tells young Timothy. People have a form of godliness, yet deny its power. Being religious is an accepted and respectable thing still. The majority of people in America still claim to be Christians. The problem comes when they are expected to act like Christians. These people are in our churches every week. They are drawn fill a void in their lives that they can’t fill with anything else. These people cannot worship God however, because they do not know Him.
If you took a survey of why unbelievers came to church, you’d find that very few people came because of the worship style. Churches with a particular worship style may grow, but it is not necessarily from people getting saved, but rather from people switching churches.
So why does worship matter at all in respect to the unbeliever? It matters a great deal because it is the one time when they get to see God at work in the lives of many Christians at once. The pastor gets his chance to preach the gospel to the unbelievers in the church, but it is during worship that the lost see the difference that the gospel makes.
If believers are truly worshipping God, there is tremendous power behind that. When believers come together in worship, there is a unity that cannot be found in the workplace, in politics, on television, or anywhere else. There is a sense of purpose that is shown through the worshippers. Any nonbeliever who is a witness to this is going to ask themselves from where this sense of purpose and unity comes. The answer is in Jesus Christ. These lost souls who have wandered into our churches looking for something to fill the emptiness in themselves are going realize that they’ve found what they been looking for.
The answer does not lie in a particular style of worship. Nonbelievers do not enter the church because they heard great things about the worship there. They may stay because they find entertainment in the church. They will stay if they see people with changed lives who enjoy worshipping God.
The responsibility is ultimately on the congregation and not the worship planning committee. No matter what style of worship is used in the church, if unbelievers do not discover what they are searching for in it, they probably won’t stick around. Odds are, they can find better entertainment somewhere else. However, if the people of the church make an effort worship God with their full being every Sunday, it will be noticed by the outsiders looking in. That is how evangelism is accomplished through worship. It has nothing to do with debates over styles but everything to do with giving God all of the glory that He deserves.