Modern Worship

I recently read on Facebook about a church that wants to put a McDonald’s franchise in their church. The reasoning behind this is so that more people will attend church before or after stopping at McDonald’s for lunch. Although this seems funny in a way, it is really a sad commentary about the times we live in. Many churches add coffee houses, basketball gyms and other gimmicks to their buildings to get young people and young adults in the door so that, in theory, they will join a particular church and attend it regularly. The reason this is occurring is because many churches today either have low membership or they are disbanding due to membership and financial concerns. Why are these churches facing serious membership issues that cause them to resort to these strategies? They use these methods because contemporary Christian music and the latest bands and informal atmosphere in these facilities doesn’t seem to bring in the numbers that they would like to see. We as Protestant Reformed Churches are concerned with numbers to. To a certain extent this is a healthy concern. We want our churches to grow and flourish. We want our mission fields to prosper to such an extent that they become organized churches. These are good, legitimate blessings of God that we may and must pray for. God calls us to “… pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6a).  The trouble is, however, that many churches are worshiping God as they see fit, not as His word commands us. They focus on emotions, feelings and experiences rather than on praising God in a joyful and respectful manner. “God is to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all that are about Him” (Psalm 89:7). God takes these violations of His law very seriously. Take Nadab and Abihu for example. Leviticus 10:1 tells us that they “the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.” The result of this was that God became very angry “and there went fire from the Lord, and they devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (verse 2). The “strange fire” that they used for sacrifices came from a source that God had forbidden, although the Bible doesn’t tell us what it was.  Another example of this will worship came from David. Although a child of God, David didn’t always do things as God commanded him to, In II Samuel 6, he decided to transport the ark to Jerusalem on a cart, rather than let the priests carry it. All went well until the cart hit a rough spot in the road and the ark started to sway. Uzzah reached out his hand steady the ark, touched it and died. As a result, the ark was put in the house of Obed-edom and was returned to Jerusalem in a proper, reverently joyful way at a later date. From this we see that God commands us worship Him not just joyfully and with emotions running high, but with a reverence and respect for who He is  what he has done. The result of not having solid preaching in churches is that these congregations have to resort to basketball gyms and McDonald’s to attract members, efforts that don’t prove fruitful and merely delay financial trouble or disbanding for a while. When we have respect for God and His word, He will see to it that, even if we don’t prosper physically, we will prosper spiritually as we “..hunger and thirst after righteousness”(Matthew 5:6). May God grant this prosperity!
Kevin Rau

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