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Sunday Morning Tension

ImageWalking into a church building on Sunday morning should evoke desires, emotions, and passion.  Through the songs, teaching, fellowship, and prayer, Sunday morning gathering is a vital time of growth and encouragement for a Christian.  Each time we walk into a church building for worship, our hearts should be led into worship and challenged for whatever comes in our discipleship journey.  I think most people know what worship should look like, but my tension comes in this: how has communal worship taken on two (at least) distinctively different identities in the modern Church?

“A fellow who doesn’t plan his service and does not plan his sermon and says he is trusting in the Holy Ghost, is a liar and the truth isn’t in him.  Or, else, he’s too dumb to know what he is saying,,,if you come unprepared and just flip over the pages, hoping for the best…and not preparing and thinking that’s spirituality, you can be sure that’s not spirituality.  That’s shameful laziness irreverence.” – A.W. Tozer “How to Pray for Revival”

“In Adullam, we’ve made the deliberate decision not to be very excellent or polished during our main gathering, simply because we don’t want to create an environment that is so good that it causes people to feel positioned as observers.  Because I want myself and our people to have time to be incarnational in the world, we don’t take up their time working on the church service.  We don’t have worship practice, and I spend only a few hours a week planning our time together…” – Halter and Smay, The Tangible Kingdom, 104.

“…the sermon begins in the parking lot.  By the time I stand up to deliver what is traditionally considered the message, everybody in our audience has already received a dozen or more messages….The quality, consistency, and personal impact of your ministry environments define your church…”– Stanley, Deep and Wide, 157

Three opinions on the structure, quality, and excellence of the Sunday morning worship gathering.  How important is a solid, well prepared, intentional service?  Do people honestly care what they see, what they take part in, on a Sunday morning?  Tozer and Stanley have a different view of preparation for church.  After reading some of Tozer’s sermons and Stanley’s book, I find it hard to believe that Stanley is surprised by many things on a Sunday morning.  Smay seems to make a very strong case that Sunday morning is not a really high priority on his week.

Should the bar be set high on Sunday?  How much prep time should be spent?  When does the Spirit leading become an excuse for ill preparation?

Three great authors, leaders, and men…three different opinions, causing me to question my own!

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1 Comment

  1. Linda says:

    I think it is true that we have deliberately tried to take “striving for excellence” out of worship to make it more accessible to those who are unchurched, but in doing so we offer to God not what is our “Best” but what is just “good enough”. I believe we are called to always offer “our best” and only WE know what that is. I find this trend disturbing as I was always taught we give our best, off the top, right down to wearing our “Sunday best” as they used to call it. It is a matter of respect for our most High King. Everyone knows just what is their best in anything and should be striving for that always. You can always tell when someone spent little time or effort in their responsibilities, it is obvious. If the Holy Spirit decides to take over and lead in a who different direction, that will be obvious as well.

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