Walking 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!