For whom should worship services be designed? Should their intended purpose be evangelism, discipleship, or both? Should seekers (non-Christians) be in mind, or Christians already in the faith? In today’s Seven Minute Seminary video, Dr. Steven Bruns looks back to history in order to discover the models used by the church during some of the church’s most vibrant eras. The video will challenge some of the common assumptions about church services in America.
The concept of confusing evangelism with worship leads to neither being done well is something that I witnessed and experienced first hand in my long time local church. When worship was made “relevant” in a very heavy-handed and dictatorial way church became a complete train wreck for me. I am still associated with that church, but it is not what it once was; it is a completely different church with a completely different personality inhabiting the same facility and I do not know how to relate to it. Worship attendance is much lower across three worship services–which now includes a cutting edge contemporary service–than when the church had two traditional worship services and the vast majority of people attended the late morning service which was done with intention and focus on God. During “the change”, a person who attended the early service told me that the late morning service was the heartbeat of the church. It is very obvious that there is no longer a single heartbeat.
I am a pastor of a “seeker friendly” church and hear this argument or similar arguments regularly. However, we continue to be “seeker friendly” because God continues to use this model (in all of it’s imperfections) to draw people to himself and into saving relationship with Him.
I would like to make one argument for “seeker friendly” services, by way of example: If a Christ follower shares the Gospel with his neighbor and the neighbor is open to the claims of the Gospel but is not yet ready to respond to God and be saved by God’s grace through faith, what is the next step for the unconverted man? Should the Christian man invite his friend to Sunday morning worship to hear more? If a church is not “seeker friendly,” maybe he shouldn’t. If the Christian does invite and the neighbor tags along the next Sunday, the worship experience will likely be so foreign and confusing to him that he has difficulty understanding anything and may not choose to return. In my view, this is a missed opportunity to offer an environment for this man to be drawn close to God and to respond to Him for saving faith.
At our church, we use personal evangelism (conversations about Jesus) and a “seeker friendly” worship service as a powerful combination to allow God to bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ.