Friday, January 8, 2010

The Worship Service? Part 1

I wrote this article in 2005, back when I was writing an article on worship every month for Peninsula Covenant Church's The Bridge newsletter. It's Part 1 of a 2-month series. Tomorrow I'll post the second half. What do you think?


I realized several months ago that my language needed to change. You see, I believe that the words we speak actually matter, that sometimes we subtly communicate the wrong message without meaning to. How often have we said that we loved (or didn’t!) the “worship,” when we were really referring to the music? (Remember, Romans 12:1 teaches us that worship is something we do in all aspects of our lives!) And how often do we find ourselves talking about “going to church,” when in reality, we ARE the Church? Language impacts the way we think about reality.

Dan Kimball is pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, a missional church designed for the emerging post-Christian culture ( He’s the author of two books that have profoundly impacted my thinking: The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations, and Emerging Worship: Creating Worship Gatherings for New Generations. I want to quote at length from that latter book, and maybe you’ll see what I’m talking about:

We usually call the weekend time when a church family gets together a “worship service.” Ironically, this term used to mean a time when the saints of God all meet to offer their service to God through worship and their service to others in the church. Over time, however, the title has slowly reversed. The weekend worship “service” has become the time of the week when we go to a church building much like a car goes to an automobile service station.

Most people view the weekend worship service as a place where we go to get service done to us by “getting our tanks filled up” at the service station. It’s a place where someone will give a sermon and serve us with our weekly sustenance. In automobile terms, you could say it is our weekly fill-up. We come to our service station to have a song leader serve us by leading us in singing songs. All so we can feel good when we emotionally connect through mass singing and feel secure that we did “worship.”

We go to the weekend worship service and drop off our kids – that way they too can get served by having their weekly fill-ups. We are especially glad that our weekend service station now serves coffee in the church lobby – it’s as convenient as our automobile service station’s little mini-mart.

Ouch! Those words hit a little too close to home when I read them for the first time. Unfortunately, I’ve reached the end of my word limit for this month’s article, so I’ll conclude my thoughts on the subject next month. Pray, think and wrestle through these thoughts, and let’s talk!


zanne dailey said...

i'm convicted to use "gathering". a quote by Ryan Detzel, one of the people i follow on twitter ( kind of sums up the thought for me:

"Go to church. Not the building... the place where your fellow beneficiaries of THE CROSS are meeting together to say thank You."

"service" to me has come to mean too much of the stuff people might expect to receive, or even just watch. "gathering" seems to remind us much more of the communal, participatory aspects. at least that's the hope...

Meg said...

unfortunately no matter what we call it some folks will expect what they have been trained to say/do or what they've learned to say/do from day one as church goers. it will take so much more to shift our understanding and expectations as we seek to become the church as a body instead of a building! i'm saying "we" as in professing Christ followers as a unit.

wow. i'm tired. hope that made sense!

thanks for sharing this again Matt!

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