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Vol.  10  No. 1 January 2008  Page 16
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Ken JoinesWorship and Such

By Ken Joines

    In my travels, and in reading numerous church bulletins, I am intrigued by the evolution of the term “worship leader.” More and more, I see the song director singled out as the worship leader to the exclusion of other public participants. All along I had thought that the brother leading prayer was also leading worship; that those serving communion and preaching were leading worship. In a recent report about a youth gathering, it was said that a singing group would “lead us in worship and then we will pray and hear a message from God’s Word.” Just what were they doing when they prayed and preached? Is this not worship, too? What’s going on here?

    Actually, I fear that I do know what’s going on. There seems to be a nationwide—if not worldwide—movement afoot to place less and less emphasis on preaching, and perhaps do away with it altogether. In an AP article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal (April 15, 2006) about a Franklin, TN church, it said, “Sunday mornings at the People’s Church look more like a rock concert than traditional worship services.” It went on to say they are “moving away from singing hymns…” (Are our congregations far behind?)

    In the article, Dr. James Byrd, Assoc. Dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School, hit the nail on the head—albeit unwittingly—when, in reference to the praise songs, said, “…There’s less to disagree with in music than in sermons, where you can get into theological arguments.” I believe that this accounts for the increasing popularity of drama teams in some churches. More “praise” songs. More drama. And less preaching. That is the trend.

    God’s design for spreading His Gospel was that it be preached. “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom did not know God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21). Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…” (Mark 16:15). The last time I checked, preaching was fairly high on God’s to-do list. A church that cuts back on its preaching will starve to death spiritually. Satan’s design is to remove the knowledge of God’s Word from the people. Are we too blind to see that?

    Another thing I’ve been noticing is restlessness about Sunday night and Wednesday night services. And in every case, it is a movement away from preaching. In some places, instead of a Sunday night worship service, the people are urged to go out and do community service. Others have suggested that instead of a sermon that we have skits and drama team offerings. Some seem ready to chase every new fad that comes along.

    If we ran our school systems like some would like to run the church, we would soon be out of the education business. Just suppose the teachers said, “You know, we’ve noticed that our young people are getting bored with all this Math, English, Chemistry and History. What they really want is more field trips and service projects.” Are field trips and service projects beneficial? Are they good teaching tools? Yes. But when a school starts dropping academic classes and starts majoring in field trips, it is dead. And when a church starts cutting back the time needed to preach the Word of God and replaces it with drama teams, praise music, skits and service projects, that church is dead. They just haven’t had the funeral yet.

    Is it true that we need to be outside our church houses practicing pure religion? Absolutely! Is it true that a small group Bible study might attract someone who is not attending the Sunday night assembly? Yes. But has anybody thought about doing this on Thursday night or Saturday so we can still have that precious teaching time in the assembly for the entire body? Probably not. We’re not quite that religious. After all, we don’t want anybody thinking we’re fanatics, now do we?

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