Most church families in our country will gather together sometime today or tomorrow. As this happens, the high point for most will be the worship service. The high point of the worship service will be the sermon. If you doubt that this is the case, just ask most of the people present.
There are two troublesome aspects to this. First, scripted worship services are completely foreign to the New Testament church. Second, the preaching of sermons to saved people is completely foreign to the New Testament church.
This is extremely significant. This means that what occurs during the spiritual high point of the week for most Christians is something that we don't see anywhere in the bible.
Please let me point this out in a different way (and forgive the redundancy). Christians believe in, trust, and love the triune God who has revealed Himself in the bible. As His church, we come together as saved people because of what He has done for us and continues to do for us. We know these things because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the truths of scripture. In the bible, we see all sorts of expectations that God has for His church. We even learn about what God desires from church gatherings.
There is a significant problem, then, when the main gathering of the church and the high point of that gathering are not found anywhere in the bible itself. This is mind-boggling to me. It is stunning.
Scripted worship services cannot be found anywhere in the NT.
Preaching of sermons to the church cannot be found anywhere in the NT.
As we know, most churches that meet tomorrow will nevertheless take part in both of the above.
Is there a better way? Yes there is. The bible itself shows us. The scriptures describe for us church gatherings that are unscripted, free-flowing, and expect and encourage group participation. There may be teaching of scripture, but there is no preaching of sermons (everywhere we see preaching of sermons in the NT it is to lost people). Everyone is invited to use his/her spiritual gifts for the mutual edification of the body.
So I have to respectfully ask, if you are planning to take part in a scripted worship service this week, why?
If you are going to listen to a preached sermon, why?
I encourage you to look to the scriptures to inform your church gatherings. We all, including myself, fall short of the biblical ideal for gatherings. For example, my speech, attitudes, and actions during gatherings are not as Christlike as the bible expects. My hope is that this improves as I walk the path of sanctification.
We all have areas where we can grow in godliness in our lives. How do we know what we should look like? The only place of authority in this must be the scriptures. We must strive to become more biblical people.
Let's all ask how our lives must change in order to come more fully in line with what God has for us and expects from us. This applies to us individually and as church families. As we gather tomorrow, will our meetings look like what we see in the bible, or will they be dominated by man-made traditions? We should at least be willing (and brave enough) to ask the question and see where this leads.