There have been two comments made recently that have caught my attention. One was made by Jon Zens as he answered a critic of the book by Frank Viola and George Barna entitled 'Pagan Christianity.' Jon said, in effect, that the New Testament knows nothing of the primary purpose of the gathered church being one of worship. [Not an exact quote] Someone else I read said "Show me a single verse in the NT that states the purpose of the church is to worship." Well I looked. That verse is not there. In fact, worship, according to Romans 12, is the purpose of living. All of life is worship.
The gathering of the church is for "one another" according to the only passage in the NT that speaks specifically of a place where the church is gathered. That passage is Hebrews 10:24-25 where it is made clear the purpose of the church gathered has to do more with the provoking 'one another' to love, good works, and exhorting 'one another' as we approach His return than it does worship. [Not that such activity is not worship since all of life is worship.]The word 'assembling' in Hebrews 10:25 is not ekklesia but a word that references a place. The only such reference in the NT. It is the Greek word from which we get 'synagogue.'
Certainly other passages such as in Acts speak of what is to happen when the church is gathered. Things like receiving a word from God, fellowshipping, eating, and sharing life's needs with 'one another' whether that gathered group is meeting in houses or an upper room some where. But the point of all those passages is an emphasis on our horizonal relationships far more than an experience of worship. [Not that such activity in our relationships is not worship.]
Another comment that has grabbed me is where someone stated that much of the teaching, talk, and thinking on church life in our day is falsely based on a model of the Temple and Prieshood of the Old Testament. I don't remember the exact quote but that pretty well summerizes it.
I thought about it. I concur. I DO think a false basis for church life to follow is one based on the Temple and Priesthood of the OT. But present day traditional worship experiences seem to be just that.
This is evidenced by those worship experiences being built around a special place like a church building, [the Temple] and when you are there your are "at church." [Thus able to worship] That is of course contrary to that earliest group after Pentecost who went from house to house. Then, special people become prominent [Pastors] and are the only ones qualified to lead us in worship just as the Priests of the OT were necessary for the people. "My Pastor" is the language we use to reflect that specialness. [Why we don't say "my Prophet" or "my Teacher" or "my Evangelist" may reveal more about our misunderstanding, if not our misuse of scripture, in establishing offices to be held by special people instead of experiencing Spiritually gifted people in the Body.] We don't often comprehend that the body gathered is to be ready to excercise gifts to edify all. Were we to honestly follow an Old Testament "Priests are to lead in worship" way of thinking ALL would have to lead since ALL are Priests in the New Covenant. But I digress.
Add to that special place and special person the need for special things and special days and times and you will soon get the picture. For example, the pulpit, the organ, the communion table, [special things] and a few other things become what I used to call "sacred cows." You don't touch them, move them, eliminate them, or change them in any fashion. They are not unlike the vessels in the Temple except Aunt Suzie or Uncle Charlie donated or made them thus making them as sacred as the vessels King David dedicated and were used in Solomon's Temple upon completion.
Special days and times? Sunday at 11:00 am and Sunday evening at 6:00 pm IS the day and time of worship. Monday through Saturday are days of work. [The six days shalt thou labor thing] But come Sunday, that special day, and we go to our special place to be led by a special man who uses special things all to bring us into the the special presence of God for a special event. Worship. [Forgotten is the fact that Sunday isn't the sabbath or a day of rest or worship for that matter but, for believers, every day is a Sabbath in Christ for all of us rest in Him.]
May I say it? Somehow I think we've missed the New Testament concept of church life and particularly the worship aspect of it. I'm not saying anything I've listed is, in and of itself, evil or wrong. But if we make an idol of any one of the things mentioned it becomes wrong if not evil. No standard or procedure was given in the text of the scriptures that would guide the methods we use in church life but what is fulfilled in ANY method is mandated scripturally.
We're wrong to make worship a Sunday thing only because we're mandated in scripture to present our bodies [all of our life] a living sacrifice which is the beginning of real worship.
We're NOT wrong in worshipping on Sunday at 11:00 am unless it becomes an idol we bow down to and refuse to let anyone touch or change.
We're wrong to make one man the center of all that is spoken or done in a gathering of believers because we are mandated scripturally that it is to be a "one another" time.
We're NOT wrong in hearing a message on Sunday morning unless it becomes an idol and we bow down to it and refuse to let anyone touch or change it.
We're wrong in making the pulpit, the hymnal, the organ, the choir loft, or anything else a sacred thing because we are mandated by scripture that people are sacred and any tool can be legitimate as it aids in building relationships.
We're NOT wrong in using any tool that enhances body life unless they become idols and we bow down to them and refuse to let anyone touch or remove them.
We're wrong to think of the church building as sacred because we're mandated in scripture to see our physical bodies as the true Temple of God.
We're NOT wrong to take care of any property we, as a church gathered, might own or use unless it becomes an idol and we bow down to it by refusing to use it for ministry and instead protect it from damage.
It seems to me we may be at a time in history where new wine skins are needed for the fresh wine of the Spirit to flow through the Body of Christ and the need is bigger than just adapting to a new style of worship. It may be that some of our old school thinking about a lot of things biblical may need investigating afresh. This will not mean the text has changed but our understanding of that text is an ever deepening and comprehending thing.
That's my thinking at least.