Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Worship is one of the most important things that a Christ-follower can do. There is public worship and there is private worship. Worship services happen in churches every week. The question we should be asking is, “Does our worship please God?”

When I was in college I attend a “typical” Presbyterian church. There was the responsive “Call to Worship,” the unison “Confession of Sin,” the “Declaration of Pardon,” the choir sang an anthem and there was the long (and generally boring) “Pastoral Prayer” followed by the “Lord’s Prayer,” The pastor read his sermon. He said the exact same words, at the exact same places in worship each week. Every service was exactly the same.

Now on to another example…

There is a married couple that loves each other very much. Everyday the husband says the exact same things to the wife. Every day the husband does the exact same things around the house and for the wife. Nothing new. Nothing different. Always the same-old-same-old stuff. Would this marriage last? It might. It might not. There needs to be freshness and newness. There needs to be passion and spontaneity.

Now back to worship…

Purpose Driven worship challenges us to look at worship in a new way. It teaches us to ask questions. Why do we do the things we do? Why do we sing the songs we sing? Why do we dress for worship the way we do? Do we expect newcomers to know the “Lord’s Prayer” or “Apostle’s Creed?” Why? Why? Why?

After look at “why” we do things in worship the way we do we are challenged to look at how well we do them. Effort matters, so does quality. God expects our best. We need to be in the practice of evaluating our public worship experiences.

Purpose Driven worship challenges how pastors choose sermon topics. All sermons will be based on scripture and include scripture. But how hard is it to fire up the church attendees to invite their friends to hear a sermon on James 2? The topic would be great. But would a “friend” feel compelled to visit church to hear that sermon? Since adopting the Purpose Driven model I have started doing alternating sermon series: four to six weeks based on a theme, topic or book and then four to six weeks of expository preaching going through a book of the Bible. We had a series on “Breaking the Da Vinci Code.” We looked at the book “Why Men Hate Going to Church” and scripture texts that spoke to the topics (note: both men and women found this series very helpful). We had a Narnia series over Advent called “Discover the Light of Christmas.” And just last week we concluded a series using “Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller for topics. These series brought people to church! People still hear God’s Word from scripture; it just comes through a little different packaging.

Purpose Drive worship can transform the way a congregation worships.


At 8:47 AM , Blogger Classical Presbyterian said...

I'm still too classically 'Reformed' to buy fully into the topical preaching argument. I understand the need to be appealing to nonchurched folks and the need to be relevant. After all, isn't the Gospel itself always relevant to the lives of humankind?

But I still feel that the soundest method of preaching to a biblically illiterate world is to preach in the 'lectio continua' method of the reformers. I preach right through a book (Matthew in this case) and every verse is given its due. This does several things---it allows the congregation to fully learn the 'flow' of the text and it also shows our dedication to learning God's Word on its own terms, not through our agendas.

But this does not exclude topical-type preaching or engaging ideas, does it? It really is up to the preacher HOW the material is presented and HOW it can be 'advertised' to the general public.

There are many great websites on this topis, that being Expository Preaching--

At 5:50 AM , Blogger Pastor Lance said...

Did Jesus preach straight through Isaiah? Genesis? Job?

His "style" was to see what was happening in the context of his day and then bring the truths of the Hebrew scriptures to light.

At 8:16 AM , Blogger Classical Presbyterian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:18 AM , Blogger Classical Presbyterian said...

I thought Jesus preached through the letters of Paul..... :)

Seriously though, it's a good question that you ask!

But I have one idea to reply with: Jesus's audience might have been more biblically-literate (even as illiterate people!!) than our own congregations today!

But even then, I think that the method of preaching is less important than the substance...and on that point, I bet we both heartily agree!


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