Worship service vs. worship experience

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by BroChris, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. BroChris

    BroChris
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    I've been thinking about our morning worship service. I, personally, enjoy the flow and structure to it, but I can see how certain elements might get in the way of others worshiping, or may be distracting (such as announcements, birthdays & anniversaries, etc). Yet I like how laid back our worship service is and how it doesn't need to be "perfect." I know many churches that go the other extreme and construct a worship experience, which borderlines on being artificial and manipulative.

    I feel like if I make any changes to the order and flow of the service, then I'm focusing on the wrong thing. Rather than truly focusing on the heart of the believer, which should be able to worship God in any circumstance, I feel like I'd be trying to evoke an emotional response artificially.

    Am I thinking about this too much? Are my hesitations to make unneeded (or even wrong) changes keeping me from making good changes?
     
  2. annsni

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    We've discussed this a lot at our church. Our service usually goes like this:

    4 worship songs
    Pastoral prayer
    Greeting each other
    Announcements
    Offering with special music
    Consecration song
    One more song
    Message


    Some of us find the greeting and announcements in between worship really breaks the worship up. I consider the message part of worship too so it would be nice to have a good flow from worship to the message. I'd rather see us ditch the announcements unless it's something really important - and give those announcements at the end of the message or maybe at the beginning - but not in between songs. We have the screen up front so we can loop announcements there before and after services and of course all announcements are in the bulletin each week. I don't think it's worrying about an experience but have you ever had a great quiet time reading your Bible then get a phone call to interrupt you? Then you get back into the Word but you've been distracted and it's not the same as if you were able to just go straight through. It's the same with Sunday morning.
     
  3. Tom Bryant

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    A couple of thoughts being "laid back" doesn't mean that a service ought to aim at people experiencing worship or that it shouldn't be as "perfect" as we can make it.

    We do all our announcements prior to beginning the service so we don't break into a service that is genuinely experiencing the presence of God with the ladies dinner next weekend.

    You can juggle the schedule without manufacturing an experience. It's a matter of your heart AND making certain that the order of service is not sent down from on high. It's just a guide. Give God the freedom to do whatever He wants.
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    WA Criswell once said that we got on our knees to pray at the offering time because the offering was the only REAL WORSHIP going on in a church service! Lots of truth there.

    But in our church we want the whole "experience" to be "worshipful", that is, giving praise to the glory of His grace.

    So we read the Word. We sing hymns of worship (not the I/Me/Mine of many churches). We share together of what God has done. We pray corporately. We celebrate the Lord's Supper. We preach the Word of God, not sucked-out-of-my-thumb man-made messages. We discuss and apply them. We even EAT in a spirit of worship (we agreed not to talk politics or football, but on biblical or child-rearing subjects).

    There is no dichotomy. Every bush is a burning bush. All ground is holy ground.
     
  5. BroChris

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    I guess I'm coming from the perspective that our whole lives are to be lived in worship. So when we come together as a church to worship, why do some feel the need to construct a worship experience? Now, I do see your point, Ann, about sometimes being distracted during a Bible study, and I see how that relates to the worship service. But I just don't want to take that concept to an extreme and manufacture an artificial experience. If the hearts of the church members are focused on worshiping God, then they will worship God, no matter the style of the songs, or order of the service, or anything else.

    Our worship services are "laid back," I guess, in the sense that we don't appear to be striving for professionalism. We just come and be ourselves. The person leading music and announcements engages the church in conversation, and they talk back during the service. And I like that we can do that. It seems like we're being real with each other rather then different because we are "at church." But to someone who visits for the first time, it may seem very distracting and unprofessional. You know what I mean?

    I guess part of my dilemma is that I've never understood why someone should experience the presence of God more during a worship service than they do any other time of the week. If I try to get them to experience this, don't you run the risk of manufacturing mere emotionalism?
     
  6. SaggyWoman

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    Generally speaking, the church I attend by choice may have a few announcements at the front, but after that, the service flows....no offering plates are passed (there are boxes to place these things in).

    Another church I am required to attend via work I struggle to gain flow because

    1.) The pastor drains me by constantly talking at the preface of the service. Just get on with it.

    2.) During the musical portion, there is a song, sit down, pray, stand up and sing, pray, sing, pray. Seriously?? You are dragging.

    3.) People block the main exit because most want to shake hands with the pastor. Please. Step aside. Call him during the week. Really?
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    Worship is not about us or our personal experience. It is about God and God alone. The very second it becomes about you then it stops being true worship of God and idolatrous. We need to be prepared to worship with no expectation of anything in return eg. personal worship experience, feeling good etc. If you never had an "experience" would you still worship God? True worship can only occur when we have no thought of ourselves.

    Bottom line is when you have begun looking for a personal experience you have stopped worshiping God.
     
    #7 Revmitchell, Oct 30, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2009
  8. BroChris

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    This is exactly why I hesitate to make any changes to the worship service. Worship is not about the order or the flow. It should be an attitude of every believer. Yet, at the same time, there's a part of me that says, "This part of the service could be shortened to save time" and "This part should be eliminated because it's distracting." I certainly don't want to change the service just because of personal preferences, but I'm sure there's a balance to be reached. I'm just not sure where that line is.
     
  9. Tom Butler

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    I think you've put your finger on the problem. When I hear the term "worship experience," I semantically relate it to what I get from it. The focus is on me, and I sense that the goal is for it to be pleasurable to the participants. So, in planning such an experience, the goal is to incorporate such elements that attain that end.

    Now, can worship be pleasurable? Of course. I have left many services with my spirit uplifted; I have gone out with joy. Seeing souls confess Christ produces joy. Having a young man surrender to the ministry produces joy. Watching new converts sink beneath the baptismal waters produces great happiness.

    But I'm also reminded of Jim1999's comments in another thread about the Welsh revivals. There, worship services did not produce pleasure. They produced agony. They produced weeping. They produced conviction. They produced cries for forgiveness. What the Holy Spirit poured out on the Welsh was not a rockin' good time.

    Worship requires an object for that worship. It ain't us.
     
    #9 Tom Butler, Oct 30, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2009
  10. Revmitchell

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    Before you make any changes teach a series on worship and lead the church into necessary changes through the word. When you just drop changes on them often the change itself is a distraction. based on your sermon series have the church discuss in a Bible study what are the elements in a service that are necessary and helpful to worship and what is not. Let needed change fall out of that discussion. They will love you for it.
     
  11. Revmitchell

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    Although it is possible that you may hear something similar to " I do not care what the Bible says, we are Baptists!" Which by the way was said in a business meeting by a retired Pastor.
     
  12. TomVols

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    While worship may not find its bene esse in order and flow, order and flow are important to the ability to process things.
    I find nothing more distracting in terms of flow, than having announcements in the midst of worship. I prefer to have them at the beginning, or at the end if that's not possible (the beginning is better). Congregational singing, prayers, then preaching and responding through offering are all Biblical elements (GASP...you mean the Bible should prescribe our worship?) worthy of our Lord. How you do all these things can vary, and as can when you do them (A local church has its believer's service this way: sermon first, then songs, then offering, seeing all as a response to the preached word).
     
  13. Edward 1689er

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    The way I like to think of worship, in true worship, "service" is God-centered and understands that worship is something we do for God and unto God. God is "receiver" of what we do. The elements come from what God Himself has requested in the Bible. The word "experience" is a man-centered idea, focusing on what I "get" out it. While in true worship believers are blessed and receive great benefits, it is not people who are the focus of worship.
     
  14. Tom Butler

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    A few years ago, my wife and I were vacationing, and on Sunday morning decided to attend a rather large church, whose pastor is widely known in the SBC. He was known to be conservative, so we looked forward to hearing him preach.

    When we arrived, instead of to the auditorium, we were directed to an assembly hall, complete with stage, strobe lights, rock music blaring from the speakers. The young lady who greeted us told us that the pastor was away, and the service was moved to the hall (for some unexplained reason.)

    She told us "you're going to have a worship experience you'll never forget."

    We went in, sat down near the bar where water and juice were being served up. My wife and I had our Bibles with us, but it appeared that we were the only ones who had them.

    We sat there for a few minutes, looked at each other, nodded to each other and stood up and left.

    I'm sure they had a great experience. Whether they had worship or not, I can't say, since we were gone.

    But my own SBC cultural background was totally foreign to what they were doing, and while I'll not criticize it, I guarantee you I'll never get used to it.
     
  15. TomVols

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    In the same manner, I've visited many churches where you walk in, sit down, and never stand up again. The choir gathers and sings for about an hour, nothing but one or two stanza Fanny Crosby or Gaither songs, or stuff even prior to them. Congregational singing? None. No worship. Just feel-good entertainment. In fact, if the worship is good enough, the Bible never gets opened and the best services the church can remember had no preaching at all.

    News flash: Rick Warren and Bill Hybels didn't start this.
     

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