Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Personal Worship Experience vs Corporate Worship

I ran across two excellent pieces today concerning the “personal worship experience” and “corporate worship.” The first is an article from Christianity Today called “The End of Christianity as We Know It.” You can read the article here. The author, Mark Galli, discusses what has become known as the ‘worship experience’ and the similar effects a ‘worship experience’ produces compared to hallucinogenic drugs. It is a good article that exposes North American Christianity’s obsession with the worship experience. Here are a couple of quotes from the article:
“It's a lot of work to fast and pray and worship and deny oneself—and even then, experiencing God is a hit or miss proposition! What's the fuss if we can pop a mushroom and have a nearly guaranteed religious experience?”

“If religious experience is something that a drug can induce even more easily than spiritual ritual and disciplines, it may be time, for example, to rethink what many churches are trying to do on Sunday morning: create a memorable "worship experience."”
“We are shortchanging our people when we make worship mostly about experience or a pep rally to motivate people to good deeds. We practice religious neglect when we fail to witness to them the saving story of God in Christ and train them to be fellow witnesses of that story, so that they might share that story with a world that does not know its left hand from its right.”

After reading this article Dr. Ed Steele, Associate Professor of Music at the Leavell College of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, reflects at his excellent blog Worship HeartCries about ‘corporate worship’ and the ‘personal experience’ by asking the question: What is Congregational Worship?

It is apparent from his post that Dr. Steele has been pondering this subject for a while but the connection to the Christianity Today article must have inspired him to write. Dr. Steele does a fantastic job pointing out that the solution to the ‘personal experience’ is found in true, biblical, corporate worship. Dr. Steele also does a fine job portraying the line between personal worship and corporate worship, a subject that I see too many times being overlooked which, in my opinion, then becomes the root for the ‘personal worship experience.’
Dr. Steele ends with five things that should happen on Sunday morning when we gather for corporate worship:
1. We must teach what biblical worship is and isn’t. There are still many people that believe that “the music is the worship...”

2. Personal worship is indispensable. We must feed daily on God’s Word; we must immerse ourselves in His presence in prayer. There are no substitutes for personal time with the Father.

3. Personal worship is not a substitute for corporate worship. We are baptized into the Body of Christ and are members of His body. There is no biblical idea of a member of the body existing apart from the body.

4. Corporate worship must facilitate worship that centers itself around Jesus Christ as His Body. The focus of corporate worship is not a focus on personal experience.

5. We must begin to learn what it means to live and worship as the Body of Christ. Personal preference is willingly subjugated for the good of the whole body.

There is much more that could be said about these topics but for now I would encourage you to read both of these articles. I would love to see this discussion continue and take a higher priority throughout the church. Please feel free to start that discussion in the comments section!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Worship Leaders: Imitate William Gadsby and Charles Spurgeon

"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith." -Hebrews 13:7

In the time span of over 50 years two hymnbooks were published in the 19th century. William Gadsby published his hymnbook, now known as Gadsby’s Hymns, in 1814 (and later in 1838) and Charles Spurgeon published his hymnbook, known as Our Own Hymn-book, in 1866. Both men compiled these hymnbooks in a very comparable fashion and I think it is worth our time to find out why and imitate their example.

While both men have many admirable qualities that would be beneficial for Christians to study and emulate, I want to focus on the strikingly similar pastoral concern that both men had for their congregations concerning the worship of God through singing. From reading the preface of each hymnbook we discover the reasons why Gadsby and Spurgeon made the effort to compile their hymnbooks in the first place. I want to take a look at what reasons both of these men gave in their own words and see how we might benefit as worship leaders by imitating these two great men of faith.

Gadsby’s Reasons

When Gadsby became the pastor of his church they had already been established in singing hymns from Watts, Hart, and from Rippon’s Selection. He writes, “Though some of these hymns are big with the important truths of God, there are others…which give as legal a sound as if they had been forged at a certain foundry. This was one reason which induced me to publish a selection. Another was, we had three editions of Hart’s Hymns amongst us, either differently arranged or differently paged; so that when any of those hymns were given out, one part of the congregation was unable to find them. These circumstances, together with a desire in my own breast and the express wish of others to have a selection of hymns in one book free from Arminianism, and sound in the faith, that the church might be edified and God glorified, were what induced me to attempt this work.”
(For Gadsby's Preface click here)

Spurgeon’s Reasons

Spurgeon wrote a bit more about why he felt it necessary to compile a hymnbook but we can gather his primary motives through the following excerpts:

“Our congregation has long used two hymn-books [Watts and Rippon]…and we should most probably have been very well content with those books had it not been for difficulties connected with the remarkably complex arrangement of their content. To strangers it was no small task to discover the hymn selected for singing; for, in the first place, there were two books, which was in itself an evil; but the matter was made far worse by the fact that these two volumes were each a puzzle to the uninstructed…We felt that such ought not to be the state of our service of song.”

“None of the collections already published are exactly what our congregation needs, or we would have cheerfully adopted one of them…Our congregation has distinctive features which are not suited to every compilation, not indeed by any known to us.”

“Subjects frequently passed over or pushed into a corner are here made conspicuously the themes of song; such, for instance, as the great doctrines of sovereign grace, the personal Advent of our Lord, and especially the sweetness of present communion with Him.”
(For Spurgeon’s Preface click here)

Concern for Order, Unity and Intelligibility

Both men laud the efforts of the likes of Dr. Watts’ and Dr. Rippon’s collections but they understood that the way in which their congregations used these wonderful resources hindered worship greatly. The collections were contained in multiple volumes and editions which lead to endless page-flipping and book switching after every song. Various editions of the same hymnbook would produce confusion as to which hymn number the congregation was going to be singing and certain verses might be laid out in a different order or omitted altogether.

The lack of a uniform means of presenting songs no doubt led to an improperly ordered service. The lack of participation due to these reasons led to disunity. Both of which led to unintelligibility of praises. Spurgeon writes, “The providence of God brings very many new hearers within the walls of our place of worship, and many a time we have marked their futile researches, and pitied the looks of despair with which they have given up all hope of finding the hymns, and so of joining intelligently in our words of praise.”

These men saw a problem and out of their concern for congregational order, unity and intelligibility they produced a hymnbook which accomplished all three. Not only did this solution edify the church, but it also broke down unnecessary barriers to unbelievers who might visit.

Concern for Sound Doctrine

It is apparent that both men had a deep concern for their congregations to have a steady diet of sound doctrine in their hymns. Gadsby introduces his hymnbook with Psalm 47:7 “sing ye praises with understanding.” Both men were aware of the educational impact of hymns and sought to squelch shoddy theology and emphasize that which is good. Spurgeon made it a priority to not only include doctrinal songs but to highlight them and push them to the forefront of congregational singing. Gadsby, a true Strict Baptist of his time and a man of stronger backbone than most today, found it necessary to not only emphasize sound doctrine, but to make sure his collection was devoid of Arminian theology. Here both men are truly acting like Shepherds for their congregation; guarding, tending and feeding all at the same time.

Concern for Their Flock
Ultimately these men cared greatly and deeply for their congregations. They wanted to see the praises of God sung orderly, with unity and intelligibility, through sound doctrine “that the church might be edified and God glorified.” And while I am sure that these men loved the Church universal, it is abundantly apparent that they loved their local congregations very, very deeply. The hymnbooks that they produced for their churches are landmarks of this love. That Spurgeon’s compilation became known as Our Own Hymn-book is evidence enough that the local church was the primary focus of the project.

Gadsby and Spurgeon knew their congregations intimately enough to recognize that they couldn’t just copy or mimic another congregation. They needed to produce something specifically for their people. Spurgeon recognized that his congregation’s “distinctive features [were] not suited to every compilation.” Gadsby gave ear to the “express wish of others” concerning content for the hymnal.

Another indication of the love and concern these men had for their flock is the fact that they composed hymns for them. Gadsby composed and included over 150 hymns in his compilation. Spurgeon composed several himself and tells us why. “The editor [Spurgeon] has inserted with great diffidence a very few of his own composition, chiefly among the Psalms, and his only apology for so doing is the fact that of certain difficult Psalms he could find no version at all fitted for singing, and was therefore driven to turn them into verse himself.” Spurgeon knew what his congregation needed and he supplied it, however hesitantly, out of love.

An additional point we should consider is the way in which both men seem to be plainly aware of Christian Pop-culture’s influence on their congregational music. In deciding how to shape his hymnbook Charles Spurgeon writes,
“We have not cast about for models suggesting by the transient fancy of the hour, but we have followed the indications given us in the word of God and the long established usage of the universal church; desiring to be obedient to the sacred precept, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
And Gadsby takes aim at Watts and Rippon’s work, saying that some of their hymns “give as legal a sound as if they had been forged at a certain foundry.” The imagery he offers is that these popular songs, which are gospel-less, are being pumped out of the same mold (sound familiar?). Neither Spurgeon nor Gadsby attempted to copy Christian pop-culture but instead “followed the indications given us in the word of God.” And this was done out of a love for their church.

What This Means for Us

There is much we can learn from William Gadsby and Charles Spurgeon and their compilation of hymns for their congregations. Though we could spend hours discussing ways in which we could imitate these men (and I hope this does spur more discussion!), I want to look at three concerns they had that we would be wise to imitate in our ministries.
1) Imitate their concern for order, unity and intelligibility in worship. What is it that hinders any of these aspects as it relates to your congregational worship service? What are you going to do to remove those hindrances? Is it a visual issue? A sound system issue? A leadership issue? Whatever the case, I encourage you to read through 1 Corinthians 14 and prayerfully consider those things that hinder orderly, united, intelligible worship.

2) Imitate their concern for sound doctrine. Don’t just throw in a song every now and then because it has a lot of doctrine. I encourage you to make doctrinal songs a priority in your congregational singing! Emphasize theology! The more you know about God the more you will love God! Spurgeon puts it this way, “Oh, if you knew Him better, you would fly to Him!” Ask God which aspects of the worship service have overlooked or shoved specific doctrine into the corner.

3) Imitate their concern for the local church. The motive of all of this reforming was a deep love for the church. Both men wanted their hymnals to be of service to their local churches specifically. Any blessings that the hymnbooks might have outside of their local congregations were simply afterthoughts. Do you love your church enough to attend to their needs, guided by Scripture or are you trying to shoe-horn in the latest popular worship fad? Are you depending solely on a Worship Industry to direct your worship planning or do you have one ear to Scripture and the other to the congregation? Pray that God would increase your love for your local church. Ask God to reveal to you the “distinctive features” of your congregation and then seek to find the best and most biblical way to serve them.

I mentioned before, these men like Shepherds did their best to guard, tend and feed their flocks. The hymnbooks they produced sought to accomplish just that. This is the duty of all those who lead and minister the congregation. As a worship leader you have the privilege and responsibility to care for your people when selecting and leading songs and when you plan (in whatever capacity) the worship service. Take time to meditate on passages such as John 21:15-19, and the books 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. Imitate great men of faith like William Gadsby and Charles Spurgeon and shepherd the flock with similar concern.

Learn More:
Purchase a copy of Gadsby's Hymns and Our Own Hymn-book from Grace and Truth Books
More info as well as some sermons and letters from William Gadsby
Tons of great info and more about Spurgeon can be found at The Spurgeon Archive
Also, I highly recommend checking out Red Mountain Music. They have done an excellent job of re-tuning a few of Gadsby's Hymns.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Effeminate Worship Leader

A Note Before We Begin
Let me start by addressing a very sensitive related topic. I know that churches approach the subject of female leadership differently. Some find it acceptable to allow women to lead in every area of leadership in the church while others don’t even allow women to speak. The Bible is clear that men and women are valued by Christ equally (Gal. 3:28), they are spiritually equal, yet God in His sovereignty designed the roles of man and woman to reflect Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:24). God designed men and women differently so that they would find joy and a since of fulfillment in their particular role (Gen. 2:18). That said, a church that believes the biblical model of the roles of men and women will be shepherded only by men (1 Tim. 3:1-5).

On the same hand, we should also note that churches approach the position of worship leader differently. Some regard the position as a pastoral/elder led position while some regard it as simply a good singer leading songs to help the congregation. Depending on the church’s approach on the worship leader position a church might find it acceptable for a woman to lead worship. So with that out of the way, when I speak of The Effeminate Worship Leader, I am speaking about male worship leaders.

The Effeminate Worship Leader
There’s no real easy way to put it. I could beat around the bush and sugar coat it a bit, but in the end it would probably come off as more offensive than necessary. I’ll try to look at all sides to squash unnecessary offense so that the offense that will inevitably come might be helpful rather than harmful. But I want to address something that I’ve noticed and I am sure many others have observed and that is the Effeminate Worship Leader.

You’ve seen him. You know who I’m talking about. A little too sensitive, overly-emotional, flamboyant is a term that comes to mind. Usually it is seen as just an “artsy” thing. For some reason—and I just can’t put my finger on why—these guys are everywhere in Evangelical Christianity. I know I’m not completely off base because it has unfortunately become a stereotype. But I’m not just basing this off of stereotypes; I’ve noticed it many times personally and have had conversations with others who have noticed it as well. In some circles it has become a kind of in-house joke that the worship leader is metrosexual. And a metrosexual, if you are unfamiliar with the term, is basically a dude that acts like a chick (ie. effeminate). To make my point here’s a link to a humorous Christian satire site that provides a scorecard so you can rate how metrosexual your worship leader is. (I scored a 4 out of a hundred some points by the way…)

I know this isn’t a politically correct topic, but to me, it is a serious one. We can laugh it off with a wink, wink and giggle about it behind closed doors but there comes a time when leaders need to have their feelings hurt and be told to act like a man for the good of the church, the good of the gospel, and for the glory of God.

The War on Masculinity
Our culture is inundated with the lie that there is no difference between male and female. Everything is rapidly becoming gender-neutral. Actually it is more than being gender-neutral; plain and simple our culture is striving to become genderless. And one of the best ways to become genderless is to remove the very trait that has the courage to fight against it, masculinity. Boys are expected to act like girls at school, and when they don’t they get medicine shoved down their throats until they do. Homosexuality is glorified through media, academia, and legislation while any voice of resistance is slandered as hatred, intolerant, backwards and stupid. Feminism has practically stated that their goal is the eradication of masculinity. I could go on but the reality of our culture’s genderless agenda is all around us.

The Lack of Masculinity
On top of the bombardment of masculinity through genderlessness, it is also important for leaders to note the lack of masculinity in our society. Not only is fatherlessness a major problem in our society, but it isn’t even a stretch of the imagination to think how a child can grow up and never have any meaningful connection with a man. It’s easy to picture a child raised only by his mother, who goes to school taught by only female teachers, and perhaps gets a job where the boss is a woman. What’s wrong with that picture isn’t the amount of feminine influence; it is the lack of masculine influence, and that’s the ever increasing direction of our society. The lack of masculinity only fuels the fire for the war against masculinity.

What's the Big Deal?
So what does our society see differently when they go to church? I’m afraid in many cases they see only a mirror of the same effeminate culture. There is a time and a place to discuss the lack of masculinity in the church as a whole, and many helpful books and articles have been written to address this problem but I have never found one which focuses on worship leaders in particular. Though in snippets it has been discussed elsewhere perhaps I might be allowed a bit more liberty since I am a worship leader (and I have long hair too…).

I don’t know if I can put my finger on the exact reason why there are so many effeminate worship leaders. No doubt our society has played a part in producing men who think it’s cool or hip to be womanly, especially when it involves music. It is not uncommon for male musicians to wear eyeliner or paint their fingernails. People think of artists as having strictly feminine characteristics. They are viewed as sensitive, emotional, moody, frail, weak, and soft. In fact, this argument has been presented to me as an excuse for an effeminate worship leader. “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it, that’s just how artists are.” Perhaps that’s how artists are expected to act in the world, but not in the church. However, if your worship leader is simply an artist and nothing more then, effeminate qualities aside, you need a new worship leader.

But should effeminacy in worship leadership really be addressed as a problem? Is it more than a pet peeve? Does it actually covey something to those who are being led? The answer to all is yes. If effeminate leadership reinforces a culture which opposes the gospel, then it is more than a pet peeve, it is a problem.

The songs that are sung, how they are sung, the clothes that are worn, and the manner in which one carries himself—whether in front of the congregation or not—all communicate something to those who are being led. And for those of us who are ministers of the gospel we not only represent ourselves and our church, but Christ whom we preach (or sing about). And if we lay aside our masculinity, the world notices nodding in agreement, the devil breathes a sigh of relief, and Christ is put to shame.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect anyone to lead worship with a gun or a Rambo headband. I’m not advocating for anyone to leave one stereotype and pick up another. I’m not saying you cannot be emotional. But what I am advising is to be aware of how you present yourself to a watching world and to not lose hold of your masculinity.

Act Like Men!
Paul encouraged the Corinthian church, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13) Paul is in essence saying, “Don’t act like women!” He is saying; Be watchful, like men! Stand firm in the faith, like men! Be strong, like men! Act like men! This is a message Satan and the world doesn’t want us to hear. It is countercultural. To the world this is just another one of those sexist, bigoted parts of the Bible only ignorant people believe. Their message is this: Don’t be watchful, be open! Stand firm in the faith that is right for you! Don’t be strong, be sensitive! Act like a woman! (By the way, the gender-neutral TNIV tries to side-step Paul and translates “act like men” as “be courageous”)

Men follow men. Women follow men. It is how God has designed us. When Adam surrendered his masculinity and failed to lead Eve, John Milton calls this move “effeminate slackness.” Adam took the route of effeminate slackness and switched the designed roles of man and woman, and when God approached Adam about his sin Adam pointed to the woman like a coward.

Jesus understood that people followed masculine men (and why shouldn’t the creator of the universe understand that?). In Matthew 11:7-9 we read, “Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John [the Baptist]: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes.” Jesus’ point is that the people went out to see a prophet, a truth teller and one who was prophesied about who would point the way to Christ.

But look how Jesus presents this to the people. He asks two questions that are designed to focus upon John’s masculine qualities. “Did you go to see a reed shaken by the wind?” John wasn’t a coward. John was no shaking reed, he was watchful, firm in the faith, and strong. Then Jesus asks a question regarding attire, “Did you go see a man dressed in soft clothing?” It is interesting to note that the Greek word for “soft” in this sentence is malakos, which is associated with effeminacy. John was not “soft” like the king’s men. Neither his style nor surroundings were effeminate. John wore camel’s hair and lived in the wilderness while the king’s men wore feminine clothing and lived in luxury. Jesus assumed the people understood the contrast.

Ministers Need to be Masculine
So while His point was that the people went out to see a prophet, Jesus centered their attention indirectly on John’s masculine characteristics as well as his masculine attire and environment. Why? Now pay attention here; Jesus is linking John’s masculine qualities to John’s office as a prophet. John’s office as a prophet required masculinity. Why? Because no one is going to listen to a cowardly weakling who shakes like a reed in the wind! Because no one is going to take seriously the message of a man who lives and dresses daintily like a woman! The same is true for shepherds and ministers of the gospel today. And if you lead worship by placing words into the mouths of those you lead, assisting the congregation in response to God through Christ, proclaiming the good news to those that gather then you are a minister of the gospel and your role is a masculine one. Even if you are a woman, you are to lead like a man. Deborah was a woman who led Israel in the time of the Judges. When no man would lead, she led like a man.

Can you imagine what the church would look like if her worship leaders were no longer thought of as limp-wristed, girly men but rather strong, watchful warriors who are firm in the faith? Can you imagine how Satan and the world would react? It would be all out war. John the Baptist lost his head. But as it is now Satan and the world are content to leave the Effeminate Worship Leader alone.

So where do we go from here? I have no formulas or methods but for starters let’s take the Word of God seriously. Recognize that God designed leadership roles to be masculine. Resist the temptation of the devil and the world to become gender-neutral or genderless. Take advantage of the great resources the church has produced about biblical masculinity. Raise your sons to be men. Ask God to help you understand what it means to be a man and how to lead like a man and ask others to pray for you. If you have succumbed to the temptation of effeminate slackness or if you tend to be effeminate, then repent and ask God to change you and start to lead your people like a man. Ask Him to root out that which you don’t recognize in yourself to be effeminate. Confide in other believers whom you trust. Remember to rest in the assurance of your salvation in Christ and be thankful for His abundant grace. Then be watchful like a man! Stand firm in your faith like a man! Be strong like a man! And act like a man!

UPDATE 4-14-10:
I have had some requests to put forward what biblical masculinity should look like. Instead of writing a new post I think it would be of greater benefit to link some really good resources to further our understanding of what it means to be a man according to the Bible. Hope these help.

-"Every Man’s Call to Biblical Masculinity" - Day 1 - Day 2Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5
-"Profiling Christian Masculinity" by Stuart W. Scott
-"We Need Some Leaders!" by Bob Lepine
-"Off with the Skirt, on with the Pants" by R.C. Sproul Jr.
-"The Mature Man: Biblical Perspectives on Being a Man in Our Time" by Thomas Bjerkholt
-"Valuing Biblical Manhood" by John Piper
-"Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood" edited by Wayne Grudem (an entire book on PDF)
-"Masculinity Reclaimed Series" from The Resurgence

Friday, April 9, 2010

Doctrine: Free Chapter on Worship and a Review

Mark Driscoll has recently released a new book called “Doctrine” with Gerry Breshears and over the past few weeks Driscoll has been generous enough to share certain chapters of his book for free. One of the chapters he has given away is the chapter on Worship. You can get the free chapter here.

After reading it I am deeply impressed and greatly encouraged. I have never read a book by Driscoll before but I thoroughly enjoy his writing style. First it is written very straight forward. He uses everyday language without sounding corny or faddish. The style isn’t so much ‘in your face’ as much as it just doesn’t beat around the bush. He doesn’t waste time debating himself about the topics he brings up and he does an excellent job throughout the chapter showing us how customs and worship practices in the past are not very different today. In fact the first four or five paragraphs provide examples of how much really hasn’t changed as it relates to our idolatry.

The premise of the chapter is that “We are not created to worship, but rather we are created worshiping. Everyone worships all the time.” This explodes the myth that we were created to or for worship because as Harold Best says, “This would suggest that God is an incomplete person whose need for something outside himself (worship) completes his sense of himself.” So it is better for us to understand that we were created as worshippers, and Driscoll rightly argues that since we are natural worshippers we are continually worshiping someone or something.

This sets up much of the chapter for something that, in my opinion, has often been overlooked in evangelical circles regarding worship, and that is the subject of idolatry. Driscoll does an excellent job getting to the heart of idolatry, which is namely our hearts. The emphasis is not on those things that are external which we might worship as an idol, but rather Driscoll reminds us that “while idolatry is manifested externally, it originates internally.” Idolatry is closely, though antithetically, linked to worship.

I have read many books and articles and blog posts that espouse the viewpoint that “Worship is all of life” and while I agree that the viewpoint is biblically accurate, more often than not I find myself coming away frustrated. This is because the author usually takes that view and forces it upon congregational worship, as if the congregation were nothing more than individual people expressing their own individual ways in which they worship, and anyone who raises concerns about such worship practices are promptly beat back with the cry, “Worship is all of life.” So it is refreshing to read that Driscoll has an accurate understanding of how corporate worship fits into ‘worship is all of life.’ He says on page 351,
“God must be worshiped as he wishes, not as we wish. The Bible is clear that God is to be worshiped in ways and forms that he deems acceptable. This explains why God judges those who seek to worship him with either sinful forms externally or sinful hearts internally. This is incredibly important. Some churches care more about what is in people’s hearts than about what they do in their lives, whereas others are more concerned about doing things the “right” way and care little about the motivations behind those actions. When it comes to worship, which is all of life, the God of the Bible cares about both what we do and why we do it.”
This flies in the face of an “anything goes” type attitude in worship, that many “worship is all of life” teachers advocate and I am happy to see it written so plainly. Driscoll goes on about what corporate worship should look like and the elements it includes, again in a simple and straight forward manner.
I am not sure what other doctrinal topics the full book includes but the Worship chapter also does a nice job explaining regeneration and it’s implications in regards to true worship (ie. you can’t truly worship without first being born again).

The chapter ends, once again discussing idolatry. This time Driscoll gives a few examples that are “intended to be of some practical help in uncovering our idols so that we can smash them in repentance and worship God alone.” In each case Driscoll shows us that the problem isn’t primarily laziness or anxiety or pornography or drug abuse, but rather the real problem is that those sinful acts are a natural outflow of worship towards a false god. If your body is your god you will worship it. This may be through sex, food, power etc. If comfort is your god you will worship it through laziness, avoidance, lying, etc. And Driscoll recognizes alongside John Calvin that the examples are endless because the human heart is a factory pumping out idols.

I was personally encouraged and convicted after reading through this chapter and I want to pass it along to you in hopes that the same might be true for you. In the very least you will have a better understanding of worship. After reading this chapter I am convinced that I will purchase this entire book in the future. If anyone has read the book (or just this chapter) I would encourage you to comment about it below and let me know your thoughts.

I’ll end with a few quotes I underlined:

“Christians are…defined in terms of the god they worship.”

“Worship is a biblically faithful understanding of God combined with a biblically faithful response to him. Conversely, idolatry is an unbiblical, unfaithful understanding of God, and/or an unbiblical, unfaithful response to him.”

“Just because a practice is ancient does not mean it is Christian.”

“Be careful not to worship a good thing as a god thing for that is a bad thing.”

“The mutual indwelling that God’s people enjoy in corporate worship is essential to our growth personally, joy collectively, and witness culturally.”

“If someone is alive, they are cultural. Furthermore, culture, in general, and creativity and the arts, in particular, are expressions of our worship and do not lead us into worship. When such things as the arts and music are used to lead God’s people into worship, the understanding that we are continually worshiping has been lost and we have supplanted the leading of the Holy Spirit with music and the arts. Such a move is pagan because music becomes mediatorial in a way that only Jesus Christ is supposed to be.”