My call...

Romans 10:13-14 (NLT)
For “EVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What time is it?

I have addressed in other articles some reasons to worship God (Why do we worship) and the differences of worship styles (Putting an end to style wars); now the obvious question is “What do we do now?” “What time is it?”.

I think once again in the subject of worship, we can find the answer in Jesus’ words, in this situation particularly in the gospel of John 4:23“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

I’m not going to address in this article what it means to worship God in spirit and truth, since I believe you can find the answer in the articles mentioned above; but I do want to challenge you to reflect in the idea that the time to worship God in those terms is NOW.

Let’s consider first the fact that Jesus’ words took place while he was on earth (in this case while he was holding a conversation with a Samaritan women at a well in Sychar, Samaria), and that when he was declaring that the time was “now”, he was implying the day and time the conversation was taking place (the present time according to the meaning of the word in greek “nu/n”), which we may presume was probably around year 30 AC.

If we also consider the fact that as christians we believe Jesus hasn’t returned yet, and that the fulfillment of His Kingdom and spreading of the Gospel among the earth is still pending; then we can conclude that the father is still seeking for those worshipers, and therefore we are still in the time frame of NOW mentioned by Jesus.

I personally have 2 main reasons to be encourage and challenge by this verse, and to take the word NOW as my daily present and not rest in the possibility of tomorrow:

My first reason is that people are dying every single day without knowing and hearing about God’s love and God’s redemptive action of sending Jesus Christ. As I have mentioned in previous articles, through worship we narrate the whole story of love of God for humanity. By worshiping God NOW (in the terms He wants us, which implies integrity in the way we narrate the story and respond to it), people will be able to get to know, love and worship God.

My second reason is because I cannot assure myself that I will have another day tomorrow. I strongly believe that it is only God who knows when our last breath on this earth will be, and I do not want to take a chance not to worship Him now, under the false assumption that I may have a chance tomorrow. This reason it’s not based on fear of the consequences for not to worshipping God while on earth, but simply because of an honest response to the love that He has shown me.

NOW is the time to worship, and that is what pleases God.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Putting and End to Style Wars

When we talk about worship in our churches, it usually comes to the table the questions of “What style of worship do we like?” “Which style of worship is better?” or “Which style of worship pleases God?”.

If worship is the expression of our relationship with God in which we remember His story and we participate (through faith, gratitude and obedience) in the anticipation of His return; where does the “style” of worship fit in?

In a simple way and paraphrasing Constance Cherry’s definition of worship style, we can define “style of worship” as the way a congregation expresses the content of its worship as a result of its given context. It is vital to keep in mind that the “worship style” should flow from the context and not determine the context. In other words it should flow from the inside out, and not from the outside in. (I do want to make that clarification, since there are a lot of churches that try to preserve a style that does not fit their current context, or that try to adopt a new style that also does not match their context).

How then can we know which worship style should be used in our churches? I believe the question should be more like: “What kind of worship helps people encounter God in this worshiping community?

Currently in our churches when we talk about worship styles we talk about “Liturgical Style”, “Traditional Style”, “Contemporary Style”, “Blended Style” and “Emerging Style”; let me give a brief description of each style:

  • Liturgical Style = The order of the service is highly prescribed by the church (through a Book of Worship or a Prayer Book), they promote a strong sense of reverence, and are very strong spiritually based.
  • Traditional Style = Uses a rich heritage of content (like hymns and prayers), observes the primary seasons of the Christian year, and the primary instrumentation is provided by a piano and/or organ.
  • Contemporary Style = Fosters intimacy with God, promotes joyful worship (mostly led by a praise team with the use of modern instrumentation and technology), and it is more casual in appearance.
  • Blended Style = It’s a hybrid of traditional and contemporary worship services, and it may hold potential for intergenerational worship.
  • Emerging Style = It’s a style that is still in the flux of what is and where it is going, but it seems to try to take communities of faith into discovering their own way to connect to God, it appreciates new and old forms of worship.

I personally believe a particular community of faith CAN encounter God in a worship service in ANY of these styles; and I believe God does not have a preference in any of them, as He does not have any preference in the language, the culture, the generation or the customs we use. I think that what He cares about is for an integrity and authenticity in the style that we use in our particular church, which is represented in an acceptance and celebration of the type of people that we already are.

We do not adopt a particular style of worship “because that is what we have been doing for many many years; or because that is what everybody is doing now”; but because whatever style of worship we use, it helps us to naturally express ourselves to God and to have an encounter with Him.

What we do in our worship services, is of a greater eternal significance than how we do it. Be authentic!