Photo Credit: Lawrence OP, Creative Commons
A good friend once sent me this quote from J.I. Packer on Worship:
“If worship services are so fixed that what’s being offered fits the expectations, the hopes, even the prejudices, of any one of these groups as opposed to the others, I don’t believe the worship style glorifies God.”
I really like it. It’s been a while since I’ve found myself in the theological debates about What is worship? Should we use music to worship? What style of praise and music is most worshipful? etc. etc.
When I was in grad school with a bunch of other single guys who had nothing better to do than read Nietzsche, debate Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology and circle back endlessly to conversations on the modern church — we talked about worship stuff all the time.
With Antioch growing up from a tiny church plant of 30 folks to a pretty well established church, however, I find these questions and conversations coming back up in my mind more and more.
“When does a progressive church plant need to step back and look at what silly things it is doing that need to be re-envisioned?”
“Do we do the same things other churches did that we reacted to when we dreamed of Antioch in the beginning?”
“Does our use of music and the arts really keep God at the center — does it aim at the glory of God and the reconciliation of us to Him?”
That is why I love Packer’s quote above — if our prejudices… if our fixed routines… it we fit lazy expectations… if we favor one… then our style probably isn’t broad enough or rich enough to be God’s style of worship.
Thinking about worship isn’t about solving a problem like a math equation — it is much more like making an adjustment as in steering. The value is in the repetition. The value is in asking the question. The value is in recalibrating.