Message Series: History of Worship
Message: Part 5: From House to Church
Scripture Text: Acts 13:13-16, 42-44
1. We’re in a series on the history of our worship.
a. We invest a lot in this time on Sunday morning. You make an effort to get here.
i. Why it’s important is something we’ll spend six weeks trying to uncover.
2. So much has changed over history of Christian worship.
a. Like the place where worship happens.
i. It began in the Old Testament as a simple pile of rocks, then became a tabernacle, then a temple.
ii. The Christian movement began in the local synagogues, then met in homes, then basilicas, then cathedrals, then steepled town & neighborhood churches of all denominations, to non-denominational worship centers.
b. As the movement has spread throughout the world and encountered thousands of cultures, the language of worship has changed.
i. From Greek, to Latin, to German, to English, to an estimated 3200 different global languages
ii. And the language of worship has gone from spontaneous to scripted, high church to low church, liturgical to
c. And what about the evolution of music in Christian worship?
i. From no music to all music; no instruments allowed to full orchestras and praise bands using every instrument ever created.
ii. From prayer chants to spiritual songs, Latin Mass to metrical psalms, hymns to gospel songs of revival to African American spirituals to contemporary praise choruses.
3. One thing has been constant: it’s been done together
a. The writer of Hebrews has a message for Christians: 10:24-25
i. Do a search of all the times the word
“Church” appears in the Bible and you won’t see it used the way it gets used
1. It’s not used to
describe a building or a worship service – it’s always a people.
ii. The words for church in the original languages of the Bible: Bet kenesset, sunagoge, ekklesia – always literally mean a gathering of people.
iii. For over 2000 years Christians have been gathering together, in
numbers ranging from 2 to the 6 million who attended mass officiated by Pope Francis in Manila, the Phillipines in 2015.
b. The theological term is ‘Corporate’ worship, as opposed to individual or personal
c. And to be sure, Christian worship can seem a little too “corporate,” with big productions, rigid and repetitive forms, and star preachers and performers.
i. It can be hard to tell what’s being worshiped, God or the worship itself.
4. But I also think the Bible is fairly clear: there
is no personal Christian worship which doesn’t include corporate worship.
a. The writer of Hebrews says that gathering for worship is not to be ‘avoided’ by followers of Jesus; “neglected” in other translations.
b. God doesn’t always want to hang out with you alone. He wants to hang out with you surrounded by his people.
i. His work of salvation, healing, and equipping for a new life of mission isn’t for you alone, it’s for a people called “the church.”
c. To be sure, personal worship is part of the package.
i. Writer Donald Whitney reminds us: Can we expect the flames of our worship
of God to burn brightly in public on the Lord’s Day when they barely flicker for Him in secret on other days? Isn’t it because we do not worship well in private that our corporate worship experience often dissatisfies us?
ii. But only-private worship can
be too much of a good thing.
1. I’d have a really nice BBQ smoker right now if I had a dollar for everyone who’s told me they don’t go to church because they prefer
worshiping God in nature, by themselves.
2. That’s legit worship but the problem is that if that’s all you get it’s more of a worship of what YOU life than what God likes.
3. God likes a choir better than a solo.
d. We’re at a critical crossroads in the future of corporate worship. Technology like TV and Internet streaming are allowing more worship
without attendance, from your cell phone or sofa at home.
i. New technology could either make worship more corporate than ever before or make it obsolete.
ii. But at the same time, we are seeing trends away from huge, mega-church experiences to small, intimate, gatherings for worship.
5. My advice is this: corporate worship is mandatory. It’s not an option. So let’s make the most of it! Come on Sunday ready to take advantage of every good reason we worship
a. Worship offers the incredible power of the Ministry of Showing Up.
i. When you come to something and other people are there with you, all voluntarily, it’s incredibly encouraging.
ii. I’m of the opinion that having a million Facebook followers
won’t ever beat being in the same room as a hundred people all believing the same thing you believe.
iii. It’s the power of connection.
b. Worship offers Spiritual Enmeshing.
i. It’s the power of feedback. We always need to test our beliefs, see if they are worth pursuing All-In.
ii. Seeing and hearing others engage those beliefs from their own perspectives deepens and solidifies our own beliefs.
iii. AW Tozer said: Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be.
c. Worship offers a Support network. Beware of churches of any size which offers a private worship disguised as corporate
worship. People arrive and leave with no interaction, no connecting, sharing, forgiving, supporting and praying for each other.
i. Your church should offer care when you need to have it, and encourage you to offer care when someone else needs to have it.
d. And finally, Worship feeds your life’s purpose and mission.
i. A lot of mobilizing happens here on Sunday mornings – sharing with each other opportunities to LOVE1st both together and on our own.
ii. Walter Brueggemann put it bluntly, “Worship that does not lead to neighborly compassion and justice cannot be faithful worship of God. The offer is a phony Sabbath
6. So if we gotta do this, let’s do it right. Every Sunday.
7. Evolution of Music – Hymns – Judy