Sunday, September 23, 2018

Who needs it?

A few years ago in a blog post entitled, “I Don’t Worship God By Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere,” Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, asserted that he doesn’t feel intimacy with God through singing, he rarely attends church, and most of the most godly and influential Christians he knows don’t regularly attend, either.  This is an individual who championed the church of the god of preference in which worship style and musical taste was offered to fit as many desires as possible.  This is a guy who inspired the worship style in which music was almost sacramental -- the spot at which we most connect and feel the intimacy of God's presence -- and now he admits to not attending any of those services!  He and “most of the godly and influential Christians he knows.”  Surprised?  You should not be.  When faith is me 'n Jesus, worship is an option at best and, if you don't need it, you don't have to have it at all.  For without sacraments or a sacramental Word that is efficacious in its preaching, what does church provide that you cannot get all by yourself at home?

The reality is that for a long time the focus of worship among many churches has moved away from God and the means of grace through which He has promised to work to the Christian.  When personal preference for worship or musical style becomes the focus, then we are powerfully affirming their supposition that worship is mainly about them.  If they are happy, then God is happy.  When we talk about worship style or even congregation as being a good fit for that person or their family, then we are telling them that what drives everything is how they feel and the job of pastor and congregation is to support their feelings.  When we make worship entertainment or sermons practical how to advice about getting what they want from God or anyone else or when we allow them to see the church as a spiritual buffet to appeal to taste, we are saying that none of this is all that important -- certainly not as important as it is fun, easy, rewarding, entertaining, or useful -- all of which are determined by, who else, the person.  When we strip the sacred from the space and define the space by the same technology that entertains them at home, we are admitting that we have little to offer except a repackaged and rehashed version of the stuff they already have, they already value according to taste, preference, and desire, and they trade in or switch out as taste or desire changes (sort of like marriage).

In other words, we have become enemies of God and of His purpose by co-opting worship for us and our wants and our preferences and by substituting feeling for truth as the great judge of what is good, right, beneficial, and holy.  When our theology of worship has devolved into worship that is no longer centered upon God and His means of grace, what God has done and does through the Word and Sacraments, the only thing left to justify church at all is how we like it, what we think we get out of it, or how it appeals to our personal preference and taste.  And from then on, it is a constant battle to get ahead of the curve lest we fall behind and get judged irrelevant.  It is the triumph of spirituality over religion (the truth religion of Christ and Him crucified).  Who needs the church in all of this?


ErnestO said...

Of all the hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical hypocrite,
who sins more safely because grace abounds,
who tells his lusts the Christ's blood cleanseth them,
who reasons the God cannot cast him into hell, for he is saved,
who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians, but lives

From The Valley Of Vision

Anonymous said...

My only hope is that all LCMS districts will eventually be like Kansas. Other than that, I don't think I can add anything more to what Pastor Beane has written.

Anonymous said...

The Church is more than just a building. The Church is a
gathering of God's People around Word and Sacrament. It is
an assembly of believers who trust in Jesus Christ as the Way,
the Truth and the Life.

Ted Badje said...

1st Anon, dId Pr. Larry Beane receive a call to Kansas?

Joseph Bragg said...

A prime example of the disconnect between the Church, Christ and the Christian Faith as prevails in Contemporary Christianity. Christ and the Christian Faith cannot be separated from the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ - the ark of salvation. Not, of course, what is called Church today, but the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Visible Church with it's unbroken and unchanged history of Apostolic Dogma, Life, Worship and Succession.

Joseph Bragg said...

As to the Church Growth movement -- The worship of the Church is for the Faithful - not to attract the world. The idea of marketing the worship of the church to the world is another example of how Contemporary Christianity has lost the truth of the Church and become just another worldly, social organization.

Daniel G. said...

Mr. Bragg,

Well said.

Anonymous said...

2 So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
Exodus 32

Anonymous said...

Pastor Peters wrote:

"When personal preference for worship or musical style becomes the focus, then we are powerfully affirming their supposition that worship is mainly about them. If they are happy, then God is happy."

I respond:

Twenty years ago, when the unchurched were asked about God, they would state they believed in Jesus.

In 2018, when the unchurched were asked about God, they would state they believed in a God that was a good force of energy (not necessarily Jesus).

In both cases, the response was understood as a sentimental 30 second thought - albeit with no-followup. Who needs (a) God when you are happy? For sadness, there is always marijuana.