Not needing the Church

We’ve discussed “house churches” and “home churches.” They are the fruit of the notion that “everyone is a minister” and that therefore we don’t need pastors. Then follows the conviction that we do not need denominations, theology, “organized religion,” or the church at all.

Michael Horton has a brilliant article in “Modern Reformation” about contemporary Christians who believe that they do not need the church. Excerpts:

In a fairly recent study, Willow Creek-a pioneer megachurch-discovered that its most active and mature members are the most likely to be dissatisfied with their own personal growth and the level of teaching and worship that they are receiving. From this, the leadership concluded that as people mature in their faith, they need the church less. After all, the main purpose of the church is to provide a platform for ministry and service opportunities to individuals rather than a means of grace. As people grow, therefore, they need the church less. We need to help believers to become “self-feeders,” the study concluded.

How far can this trajectory take us? Evangelical marketer George Barna gives us a good indication. Like the recent Willow Creek study, Barna concludes that what individual believers do on their own is more important than what the church does for them. Barna, however, takes Finney’s legacy to the next logical step. A leading marketing consultant to megachurches as well as the Disney Corporation, he has recently gone so far as to suggest that the days of the institutional church are over. Barna celebrates a rising demographic of what he calls “Revolutionaries”-”millions of believers” who “have moved beyond the established church and chosen to be the church instead.” Since “being the church” is a matter of individual choice and effort, all people need are resources for their own work of personal and social transformation. “Based on our research,” Barna relates, “I have projected that by the year 2010, 10 to 20 percent of Americans will derive all their spiritual input (and output) through the Internet.” Who needs the church when you have an iPod? Like any service provider, the church needs to figure out what business it’s in, says Barna:

“Ours is not the business of organized religion, corporate worship, or Bible teaching. If we dedicate ourselves to such a business we will be left by the wayside as the culture moves forward. Those are fragments of a larger purpose to which we have been called by God’s Word. We are in the business of life transformation.”

Of course, Barna does not believe that Christians should abandon all religious practices, but the only ones he still thinks are essential are those that can be done by individuals in private, or at most in families or informal public gatherings. But by eliminating the public means of grace, Barna (like Willow Creek) directs us away from God’s lavish feast to a self-serve buffet.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • EconJeff

    It’s more likely to be a famine than a buffet.

    “Wherever two or three are gathered…” does not mean in private. Is this the logical conclusion of praise-based services? I can sing praises to God on my own, but there is a reason Lutherans call it the Divine Service–it’s not about what we do, but what God does.

    I think this would lead to idolatry where everybody sets up their own god. Okay, I can’t even form rational thoughts on this topic.

  • EconJeff

    It’s more likely to be a famine than a buffet.

    “Wherever two or three are gathered…” does not mean in private. Is this the logical conclusion of praise-based services? I can sing praises to God on my own, but there is a reason Lutherans call it the Divine Service–it’s not about what we do, but what God does.

    I think this would lead to idolatry where everybody sets up their own god. Okay, I can’t even form rational thoughts on this topic.

  • Bruce

    “…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” Hebrews 11:24, 25.

    When the priority of worship is to have a personal experience (eyes closed, hands raised, “in the mood”) of God, I think it is only a matter of time before one recognizes a more efficient way of getting this is away from the inconveniences of public worship, toward the at-hand internet. It is worship-reductionism–self-worship– brought to its logical conclusion.

    Of course, when churches have to decide what “business” they are in, then the crossover from the Kingdom of heaven to the kingdom of this world is fairly well completed.

    Barna, run amok. He should go back to asking questions rather than answering them.

  • Bruce

    “…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” Hebrews 11:24, 25.

    When the priority of worship is to have a personal experience (eyes closed, hands raised, “in the mood”) of God, I think it is only a matter of time before one recognizes a more efficient way of getting this is away from the inconveniences of public worship, toward the at-hand internet. It is worship-reductionism–self-worship– brought to its logical conclusion.

    Of course, when churches have to decide what “business” they are in, then the crossover from the Kingdom of heaven to the kingdom of this world is fairly well completed.

    Barna, run amok. He should go back to asking questions rather than answering them.

  • Joe

    “He should go back to asking questions rather than answering them.” Nail on the head.

  • Joe

    “He should go back to asking questions rather than answering them.” Nail on the head.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    The mantra is almost fulfilled: We are becoming the ones we have been waiting for.
    If we choose to reject communal worship and choose instead to worship by ourselves, we’ve pretty much already decided to worship ourselves.
    Actually, a good marketer (and religion has plenty) will soon come up with a home church kit–some cd’s, some study guides, maybe even a little paraphernalia (fold-up altars, stow-away baptismal fonts)–none of it available, of course, in any store.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    The mantra is almost fulfilled: We are becoming the ones we have been waiting for.
    If we choose to reject communal worship and choose instead to worship by ourselves, we’ve pretty much already decided to worship ourselves.
    Actually, a good marketer (and religion has plenty) will soon come up with a home church kit–some cd’s, some study guides, maybe even a little paraphernalia (fold-up altars, stow-away baptismal fonts)–none of it available, of course, in any store.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Not to disagree in principle, but I personally see house churches as the way of the future, but for a different reason. I think organized, conservative churches are going to be driven out of “business.”

    As homosexual “rights” are codified into law, more and more frequently churches that refuse to ordain or marry homosexuals will be sued for “civil rights” violations. This will result in ruinous fines, and the churches will lose their property.

    The end result will be that the only way conservative Christians will be able to worship will be in secret. That means, as far as I can tell, in homes.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Not to disagree in principle, but I personally see house churches as the way of the future, but for a different reason. I think organized, conservative churches are going to be driven out of “business.”

    As homosexual “rights” are codified into law, more and more frequently churches that refuse to ordain or marry homosexuals will be sued for “civil rights” violations. This will result in ruinous fines, and the churches will lose their property.

    The end result will be that the only way conservative Christians will be able to worship will be in secret. That means, as far as I can tell, in homes.

  • EconJeff

    Lars- You’re scaring me. If what is happening in Canada (with their human rights commissions) is sign of what we should expect in the US, you could be proved correct.

  • EconJeff

    Lars- You’re scaring me. If what is happening in Canada (with their human rights commissions) is sign of what we should expect in the US, you could be proved correct.

  • Joe

    Lars – I think you are talking about something a bit different. Being forced underground is different that making the decision that your faith is so mature that you know longer need the church. However, I don’t disagree with your bleak outlook.

    On a separate note, are we confessional Lutherans missing an opportunity here? It seems that the Willow Creekers are fine with the role of nurturing “baby faith.” The article says the Willow Creekers realize their more mature members are not getting what they need at the rock concerts and so they want to teach them how to feed themselves. Maybe we could just work out a deal where we take the maturing members and teach them doctrine.

  • Joe

    Lars – I think you are talking about something a bit different. Being forced underground is different that making the decision that your faith is so mature that you know longer need the church. However, I don’t disagree with your bleak outlook.

    On a separate note, are we confessional Lutherans missing an opportunity here? It seems that the Willow Creekers are fine with the role of nurturing “baby faith.” The article says the Willow Creekers realize their more mature members are not getting what they need at the rock concerts and so they want to teach them how to feed themselves. Maybe we could just work out a deal where we take the maturing members and teach them doctrine.

  • Joe

    opps – that was supposed to end: doctrine, theology, practice and true faith in the free grace of Christ.

  • Joe

    opps – that was supposed to end: doctrine, theology, practice and true faith in the free grace of Christ.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Good idea, Joe. It wouldn’t be sheep stealin’ since the megachurch wants them to stop complainin’ and go out and do church alone anyway!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Good idea, Joe. It wouldn’t be sheep stealin’ since the megachurch wants them to stop complainin’ and go out and do church alone anyway!

  • Anon

    Barna has his spheres wrong. The Church is not a business or a service provider. The local church is a firebase. An oupost of the Kingdom of God in enemy-occupied territory.

    Willow Creekers find Willow Creek inadequate after they’ve learned more Bible and grown in the Lord? That doesn’t surprise me, but the conclusion that they no longer need the church is the wrong one. The right one is that Willow Creek isn’t very good at being a church. There comes a time when watered down preaching and campfire songs are not enough. It is time to be fed solid food, as Paul put it. The nice thing about Bible-believing liturgical churches is that even if your learning exceeds the level of the pastor’s sermons, you still have the liturgy and the sacrament of the altar.

    Lars, with zoning regulations, worship in homes is going to be limited to families, and the children will be encouraged to inform on their parents. Leviathan has much better surveilance technology than he did in the past with Hitler, Stalin, Diocletian and Gaius Claudius Nero.

    Are our people ready for this? I don’t see it.

    EconJeff, Canada is only “20 minutes into the future” Already true in California, Colorado and New Mexico, come January 21st, we may find Canada looking free in comparison.

    Joe, we lack terribly in nurturing faith beyond confirmation classes, and those could be improved. Luther asked “what does this mean?” That is a good start in methodology.

    If all that our people know is “this is what we believe” and not “this is objectively true – and here is why” then they will go along with the crowd in the government schools and in the state-totalist future, as well.

    While I know of pastors who are willing to go to prison for Christ, their congregants are not prepared to do without them. Without them, the sacrament of the altar becomes difficult to figure out what to do, but they at least ought to be prepared to read and hear the Word, for that too, conveys grace. For faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

    We need to impress our real situation as the faithful in enemy-occupied territory, with orders to be knights of faith; carrying the word of the gospel and the deeds that go with it to the subjects of the enemy. A country club mentality is never right, but it will utterly fail in times of persecution. We can have no more of “let them sow their wild oats, they will return when they have children” Firstly, they might die during that time of rejecting their baptism, secondly not so many actually return, thirdly, it is faithless to God to have such an attitude. What would a general say to a colonel who let his troops go over to the enemy side, or desert for a time?

    Gentlmen, “we are at -war-.”

    Luther saw it this way, as well.

  • Anon

    Barna has his spheres wrong. The Church is not a business or a service provider. The local church is a firebase. An oupost of the Kingdom of God in enemy-occupied territory.

    Willow Creekers find Willow Creek inadequate after they’ve learned more Bible and grown in the Lord? That doesn’t surprise me, but the conclusion that they no longer need the church is the wrong one. The right one is that Willow Creek isn’t very good at being a church. There comes a time when watered down preaching and campfire songs are not enough. It is time to be fed solid food, as Paul put it. The nice thing about Bible-believing liturgical churches is that even if your learning exceeds the level of the pastor’s sermons, you still have the liturgy and the sacrament of the altar.

    Lars, with zoning regulations, worship in homes is going to be limited to families, and the children will be encouraged to inform on their parents. Leviathan has much better surveilance technology than he did in the past with Hitler, Stalin, Diocletian and Gaius Claudius Nero.

    Are our people ready for this? I don’t see it.

    EconJeff, Canada is only “20 minutes into the future” Already true in California, Colorado and New Mexico, come January 21st, we may find Canada looking free in comparison.

    Joe, we lack terribly in nurturing faith beyond confirmation classes, and those could be improved. Luther asked “what does this mean?” That is a good start in methodology.

    If all that our people know is “this is what we believe” and not “this is objectively true – and here is why” then they will go along with the crowd in the government schools and in the state-totalist future, as well.

    While I know of pastors who are willing to go to prison for Christ, their congregants are not prepared to do without them. Without them, the sacrament of the altar becomes difficult to figure out what to do, but they at least ought to be prepared to read and hear the Word, for that too, conveys grace. For faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

    We need to impress our real situation as the faithful in enemy-occupied territory, with orders to be knights of faith; carrying the word of the gospel and the deeds that go with it to the subjects of the enemy. A country club mentality is never right, but it will utterly fail in times of persecution. We can have no more of “let them sow their wild oats, they will return when they have children” Firstly, they might die during that time of rejecting their baptism, secondly not so many actually return, thirdly, it is faithless to God to have such an attitude. What would a general say to a colonel who let his troops go over to the enemy side, or desert for a time?

    Gentlmen, “we are at -war-.”

    Luther saw it this way, as well.

  • Manxman

    “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
    Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

    Maybe what goes on at our services is the problem. If worship followed the pattern from the verses above from 1 Corinthians 14 and each believer was able to function and contribute to the service as the Lord used him, then maybe people would see the necissity in going to church. As it is now, “worship” is basically a show monopolized by the pastor or people in the music ministry, with the average church-goer demoted to some form of minimal participation. Our worship services just do not reflect the gifting that exists across the whole Body of Christ.

  • Manxman

    “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
    Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

    Maybe what goes on at our services is the problem. If worship followed the pattern from the verses above from 1 Corinthians 14 and each believer was able to function and contribute to the service as the Lord used him, then maybe people would see the necissity in going to church. As it is now, “worship” is basically a show monopolized by the pastor or people in the music ministry, with the average church-goer demoted to some form of minimal participation. Our worship services just do not reflect the gifting that exists across the whole Body of Christ.

  • Don S

    There is no doubt that these issues are a serious problem in the emergent church movement and in some of the seeker-friendly mega-churches, such as Willow Creek. It is typical that seeker-oriented churches attract people that would not otherwise go to church at all. Certain of these folks fall of after a period of time. Others move on to more traditional and more “meat-oriented” churches when they have matured beyond the “milk” offered by the seeker churches.

    As for the denominational issues, American denominations have largely brought this on themselves. Political correctness, bureaucracy, and theological compromise have ruined many traditional denominations. It is natural that some local churches would want to extract themselves from those denominations. It doesn’t mean the local church is not maintaining its doctrinal distinctives, or that it is seeking to strike out on its own to permit more free-form individualized worship. Often, its reason for leaving the denomination is quite to the contrary. It wants to maintain its traditional worship distinctives, without compromise, and without having to divert some of its God-given resources to a heretical denominational hierarchy.

    Dr. Veith, your statement about our prior discussion of house churches and home churches, and your conclusion that “They are the fruit of the notion that ‘everyone is a minister’ and that therefore we don’t need pastors” seems quite unfair. I don’t think that was the conclusion of those two threads, and it seems to be a very broad brushed condemnation of all house and home churches. Especially if your conclusion is that “Then follows the conviction that we do not need denominations, theology, ‘organized religion,’ or the church at all.”

    Home churches (as I recall, we defined those as immediate family only) seem problematic except in very unique circumstances. But I think we saw in the prior discussion that many house churches are just small local churches that meet in homes for a variety of reasons. Some are even denominationally affiliated, some have seminary-trained pastors, others have lay pastors who have studied a great deal to prepare themselves for this particular ministry. Like other local churches, they can only be fairly evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

  • Don S

    There is no doubt that these issues are a serious problem in the emergent church movement and in some of the seeker-friendly mega-churches, such as Willow Creek. It is typical that seeker-oriented churches attract people that would not otherwise go to church at all. Certain of these folks fall of after a period of time. Others move on to more traditional and more “meat-oriented” churches when they have matured beyond the “milk” offered by the seeker churches.

    As for the denominational issues, American denominations have largely brought this on themselves. Political correctness, bureaucracy, and theological compromise have ruined many traditional denominations. It is natural that some local churches would want to extract themselves from those denominations. It doesn’t mean the local church is not maintaining its doctrinal distinctives, or that it is seeking to strike out on its own to permit more free-form individualized worship. Often, its reason for leaving the denomination is quite to the contrary. It wants to maintain its traditional worship distinctives, without compromise, and without having to divert some of its God-given resources to a heretical denominational hierarchy.

    Dr. Veith, your statement about our prior discussion of house churches and home churches, and your conclusion that “They are the fruit of the notion that ‘everyone is a minister’ and that therefore we don’t need pastors” seems quite unfair. I don’t think that was the conclusion of those two threads, and it seems to be a very broad brushed condemnation of all house and home churches. Especially if your conclusion is that “Then follows the conviction that we do not need denominations, theology, ‘organized religion,’ or the church at all.”

    Home churches (as I recall, we defined those as immediate family only) seem problematic except in very unique circumstances. But I think we saw in the prior discussion that many house churches are just small local churches that meet in homes for a variety of reasons. Some are even denominationally affiliated, some have seminary-trained pastors, others have lay pastors who have studied a great deal to prepare themselves for this particular ministry. Like other local churches, they can only be fairly evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

  • Booklover

    “. . .contemporary Christians who believe that they do not need the church.”

    Isn’t this the belief of the many who drive their children to soccer, basketball, baseball tournaments all across the state(s) each week-end? They’ve participated in more tournaments than worship services. They feel that sticking a praise tape in the car player works as well. I know that some churches offer Saturday night services as well as Sunday services to try to accomodate, but most of these people are gone for most of the week-ends most of the year.

  • Booklover

    “. . .contemporary Christians who believe that they do not need the church.”

    Isn’t this the belief of the many who drive their children to soccer, basketball, baseball tournaments all across the state(s) each week-end? They’ve participated in more tournaments than worship services. They feel that sticking a praise tape in the car player works as well. I know that some churches offer Saturday night services as well as Sunday services to try to accomodate, but most of these people are gone for most of the week-ends most of the year.

  • sml

    Manxman-
    I appreciate greatly your comments.

    ***

    I have been in the LCMS church all my life and have a high regard for the strength of the teaching of our churches; this is what holds me to them. However, I have noted over time that our worship does not follow biblical teaching. This traditional worshiping was somewhat effective in a time when people worshiped at their local church and lacked transportation, when they knew everyone in the congregation because they were neighbors, when members of communities were dependent on each other for help and everybody knew who the needy were by name. That is not the world we live in, though it persisted for thousands of years. Now we find ourselves in a position where churchgoers do not know many people who are in the service along with them. The Lord’s continuous mantra in the NT is that we should be a people of faith in our Lord, Christ Jesus, who love the brethren (and others, but especially not neglecting the brethren). Consider, for example, the entire book of 1 John. It is abundantly clear that if we do not, in actions and in truth, love our brothers, then we are not believers. But how, with our worship set up in the manner it now is practiced, is a person to go about learning about his brother? It is not enough to say that people should be more involved at church. Scripture shows that worship was something the people were more involved in–through tongues (not ecstatic utterances), through prophesy, through songs, through love feasts, etc. Worship was not a spectator sport with a few “Amens” and a few songs or responsive readings thrown in. Was it the Roman Catholic tradition which altered the form of worship? I don’t know. What I read in the word and what I see on Sunday do not match up. Do not think I am trumpeting contemporary worship here. Contemporary worship carries the same flaws over to a different sound. There is every indication from the word that worship included time when the people were involved with each other, living out the love of God among the believers, and not our cold, silent companionship which gives the impression that we are merely sharing the same theater.

    Those that I know (only a few) who desire to start a home church desire it because they have found the churches they attend to be utterly lacking in Christ’s love.

    It is not enough to have pure doctrine. We all know that without love, as defined by God, we are nothing but some meaningless noise (I Corinthians 13).

    I pray that if you are offended by my words you would not permit yourself to immediately block out my message. I pray that you would consider that the lost are watching us and our (as a whole) superficial compassion for our own brethren. I pray that you would consider those who you do not know the name of in your own service and wonder… do they have needs? Do they wonder if God is the only one who cares for them? If they are gone next week and the week after, will you notice it? Will anyone notice it? Will anyone seek after them? What does the love of Christ demand?

  • sml

    Manxman-
    I appreciate greatly your comments.

    ***

    I have been in the LCMS church all my life and have a high regard for the strength of the teaching of our churches; this is what holds me to them. However, I have noted over time that our worship does not follow biblical teaching. This traditional worshiping was somewhat effective in a time when people worshiped at their local church and lacked transportation, when they knew everyone in the congregation because they were neighbors, when members of communities were dependent on each other for help and everybody knew who the needy were by name. That is not the world we live in, though it persisted for thousands of years. Now we find ourselves in a position where churchgoers do not know many people who are in the service along with them. The Lord’s continuous mantra in the NT is that we should be a people of faith in our Lord, Christ Jesus, who love the brethren (and others, but especially not neglecting the brethren). Consider, for example, the entire book of 1 John. It is abundantly clear that if we do not, in actions and in truth, love our brothers, then we are not believers. But how, with our worship set up in the manner it now is practiced, is a person to go about learning about his brother? It is not enough to say that people should be more involved at church. Scripture shows that worship was something the people were more involved in–through tongues (not ecstatic utterances), through prophesy, through songs, through love feasts, etc. Worship was not a spectator sport with a few “Amens” and a few songs or responsive readings thrown in. Was it the Roman Catholic tradition which altered the form of worship? I don’t know. What I read in the word and what I see on Sunday do not match up. Do not think I am trumpeting contemporary worship here. Contemporary worship carries the same flaws over to a different sound. There is every indication from the word that worship included time when the people were involved with each other, living out the love of God among the believers, and not our cold, silent companionship which gives the impression that we are merely sharing the same theater.

    Those that I know (only a few) who desire to start a home church desire it because they have found the churches they attend to be utterly lacking in Christ’s love.

    It is not enough to have pure doctrine. We all know that without love, as defined by God, we are nothing but some meaningless noise (I Corinthians 13).

    I pray that if you are offended by my words you would not permit yourself to immediately block out my message. I pray that you would consider that the lost are watching us and our (as a whole) superficial compassion for our own brethren. I pray that you would consider those who you do not know the name of in your own service and wonder… do they have needs? Do they wonder if God is the only one who cares for them? If they are gone next week and the week after, will you notice it? Will anyone notice it? Will anyone seek after them? What does the love of Christ demand?

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    SML, I have many thoughts on what you have written, but in this forum I would just encourage you to speak privately with a good confessional Lutheran pastor (perhaps not in your church, if that is where these ideas are coming from). I believe you have misinterpreted things in the new testament. The notion that we have to do things to be true believers is, in essence, against Christ’s teachings. We can’t do anything and our actions as believers should reflect our utter thankfulness. I would find a service full of the actions of true believers utterly offensive. The Divine Service is our time to shut up, be quiet and listen. It’s God coming to us. God bless you in your efforts to find true worship. It may be closer than you realize, yet it will never be found on this earth.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    SML, I have many thoughts on what you have written, but in this forum I would just encourage you to speak privately with a good confessional Lutheran pastor (perhaps not in your church, if that is where these ideas are coming from). I believe you have misinterpreted things in the new testament. The notion that we have to do things to be true believers is, in essence, against Christ’s teachings. We can’t do anything and our actions as believers should reflect our utter thankfulness. I would find a service full of the actions of true believers utterly offensive. The Divine Service is our time to shut up, be quiet and listen. It’s God coming to us. God bless you in your efforts to find true worship. It may be closer than you realize, yet it will never be found on this earth.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Regarding the speaking of tongues in worship services, consider the following Lutheran position on scripture pertaining to it:

    “The whole New Testament was not written yet, so God said he would use signs along with the preaching and teaching of his pure word to show that what his apostles were saying was the word of God. When the New Testament was finished, signs were no longer needed to confirm the word. This is not to say that God can’t or won’t use signs in our present day to confirm his word. But signs aren’t necessary any longer since we have the entire written word of God. That is why 1 Corinthians 13:8 speaks of prophecies and speaking in tongues coming to an end, and 1 Corinthians 14:22 says that tongues are a sign for unbelievers rather than believers…”

    Source: WELS.net

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Regarding the speaking of tongues in worship services, consider the following Lutheran position on scripture pertaining to it:

    “The whole New Testament was not written yet, so God said he would use signs along with the preaching and teaching of his pure word to show that what his apostles were saying was the word of God. When the New Testament was finished, signs were no longer needed to confirm the word. This is not to say that God can’t or won’t use signs in our present day to confirm his word. But signs aren’t necessary any longer since we have the entire written word of God. That is why 1 Corinthians 13:8 speaks of prophecies and speaking in tongues coming to an end, and 1 Corinthians 14:22 says that tongues are a sign for unbelievers rather than believers…”

    Source: WELS.net

  • The Jones

    Okay, I think I’m going to wear my opinion on my sleeve so that everyone knows what I’m talking about. I think that giving up meeting at a church in favor of individual Christian services is a load of bull. It does not square with the Bible, with spiritual growth and service, or with any good outcome. So I guess, SML, we disagree.

    The Bible is full of verses to keep meeting together. People have quoted some of them here, and yes, the Bible does have relevance in the information age. My favorite is “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as we see the day approaching.” This is not an optional thing.

    I was humored by this statement of Barna, “Ours is not the business of organized religion, corporate worship, or Bible teaching. If we dedicate ourselves to such a business we will be left by the wayside as the culture moves forward.” We are not in the business of Bible teaching??? What does he mean by organized religion? Has there ever been an unorganized religion? And the modern day culture is supposed to zoom past us and bring in untold wealth and happiness instead of Christianity because we clung to Bible teaching and corporate worship (meeting together) instead of fully embracing the information age? Who is this small man, bloated up with false wisdom, to reject the fundamental elements of the Church (Bible teaching) and defy God’s promise that the Gates of Hell shall not overcome the Church, and to believe that the culture of the internet, Crocs, podcasts, and Hannah Montana will outlast the Church? Dr. Veith, please tell me this article came from The Onion ( http://www.theonion.com/content/index ).

    And sml, I’m a little worried by your logic. So, since people don’t know each other in church (an obviously unchangeable condition), the church no longer meets the needs of humanity. Therefore, we can all be okay and abandon it as the primary earthly life-vein of Christianity. Now, this is a Lutheran blog, so let’s throw The Man himself out here for our benefit. Do you think the church of Martin Luther was in a better or worse spot in 1517? Did he abandon corporate worship and all? No, he corrected it. In order to do that, he had to stand up to the most powerful political and religious structure in the Western World, all the while struggling for copies of the Bible to use and trying not to be killed by Popes and Cardinals. All we have to do is meet the people we see every Sunday, find out what their needs are, and act. If differences go to doctrine and style, and not just demeanor, you can always Church Shop. If we, in Church Shopping America, can’t find a religious institution that aligns with our doctrine, we’re usually either too picky, live in the boonies, or something crazy like Baha’i or something.

  • The Jones

    Okay, I think I’m going to wear my opinion on my sleeve so that everyone knows what I’m talking about. I think that giving up meeting at a church in favor of individual Christian services is a load of bull. It does not square with the Bible, with spiritual growth and service, or with any good outcome. So I guess, SML, we disagree.

    The Bible is full of verses to keep meeting together. People have quoted some of them here, and yes, the Bible does have relevance in the information age. My favorite is “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as we see the day approaching.” This is not an optional thing.

    I was humored by this statement of Barna, “Ours is not the business of organized religion, corporate worship, or Bible teaching. If we dedicate ourselves to such a business we will be left by the wayside as the culture moves forward.” We are not in the business of Bible teaching??? What does he mean by organized religion? Has there ever been an unorganized religion? And the modern day culture is supposed to zoom past us and bring in untold wealth and happiness instead of Christianity because we clung to Bible teaching and corporate worship (meeting together) instead of fully embracing the information age? Who is this small man, bloated up with false wisdom, to reject the fundamental elements of the Church (Bible teaching) and defy God’s promise that the Gates of Hell shall not overcome the Church, and to believe that the culture of the internet, Crocs, podcasts, and Hannah Montana will outlast the Church? Dr. Veith, please tell me this article came from The Onion ( http://www.theonion.com/content/index ).

    And sml, I’m a little worried by your logic. So, since people don’t know each other in church (an obviously unchangeable condition), the church no longer meets the needs of humanity. Therefore, we can all be okay and abandon it as the primary earthly life-vein of Christianity. Now, this is a Lutheran blog, so let’s throw The Man himself out here for our benefit. Do you think the church of Martin Luther was in a better or worse spot in 1517? Did he abandon corporate worship and all? No, he corrected it. In order to do that, he had to stand up to the most powerful political and religious structure in the Western World, all the while struggling for copies of the Bible to use and trying not to be killed by Popes and Cardinals. All we have to do is meet the people we see every Sunday, find out what their needs are, and act. If differences go to doctrine and style, and not just demeanor, you can always Church Shop. If we, in Church Shopping America, can’t find a religious institution that aligns with our doctrine, we’re usually either too picky, live in the boonies, or something crazy like Baha’i or something.

  • The Jones

    Oh, and I can’t believe I just wrote that without sharing this: when I was at college, away from home, and away from my home church, I had a very hard time connecting and being “known” by others in the congregation. I blame some of it on the different areas between where I am and where I went to school, some of it on the congregations themselves, and some on my very, very busy school schedule. But either way, I know it STINKS not to be known and go hear sermons (sometimes lame, sometimes good, but sometimes even….eh…..heretical?) every Sunday. If you’re in the same boat as I was, let me encourage you to KEEP TRYING. If this is the case, you are probably spiritually dry enough as it is (at least I know I was), it’ll be worse if you get on your own, even more dry, and believe that dry is just the way it’s going to have to be.

    I’m sure the devil laughs when he has succeeded in convincing us that the whole tree is dead because we see one dry branch.

  • The Jones

    Oh, and I can’t believe I just wrote that without sharing this: when I was at college, away from home, and away from my home church, I had a very hard time connecting and being “known” by others in the congregation. I blame some of it on the different areas between where I am and where I went to school, some of it on the congregations themselves, and some on my very, very busy school schedule. But either way, I know it STINKS not to be known and go hear sermons (sometimes lame, sometimes good, but sometimes even….eh…..heretical?) every Sunday. If you’re in the same boat as I was, let me encourage you to KEEP TRYING. If this is the case, you are probably spiritually dry enough as it is (at least I know I was), it’ll be worse if you get on your own, even more dry, and believe that dry is just the way it’s going to have to be.

    I’m sure the devil laughs when he has succeeded in convincing us that the whole tree is dead because we see one dry branch.

  • NotSurprised

    Wow. I wish SML’s request not to be blocked out had been answered. These comments are completely reactionary and utterly prove the point.

    A quick sidebar on ‘tongues’ SML wasn’t advocating for speaking in tongues. She was simply referencing the participatory nature of NT ‘worship.’

    There is no sense in arguing with SML about ‘doing something’ being anti-Scriptural. You should take aim at James and John instead. Sola Scriptura doesn’t mean Selective Scriptura.

    Finally, SML did not say to stop meeting together. Good grief. Since SML did not say that, then I don’t suppose you can be sure you disagree. A little more time actually reading what is being said instead of assuming seems to be a good idea, here.

    Enough of the defense of SML. Let me personally take issue with: “So, since people don’t know each other in church (an obviously unchangeable condition), the church no longer meets the needs of humanity.”

    Unchangeable? Exactly how is that unchangeable? You mean, I suppose, that since churches have so many people in them that it is not possible to know each other. I’m trying to put the best construction on this but can’t seem to think of any flattering way to interpret this comment. Care to expound?

  • NotSurprised

    Wow. I wish SML’s request not to be blocked out had been answered. These comments are completely reactionary and utterly prove the point.

    A quick sidebar on ‘tongues’ SML wasn’t advocating for speaking in tongues. She was simply referencing the participatory nature of NT ‘worship.’

    There is no sense in arguing with SML about ‘doing something’ being anti-Scriptural. You should take aim at James and John instead. Sola Scriptura doesn’t mean Selective Scriptura.

    Finally, SML did not say to stop meeting together. Good grief. Since SML did not say that, then I don’t suppose you can be sure you disagree. A little more time actually reading what is being said instead of assuming seems to be a good idea, here.

    Enough of the defense of SML. Let me personally take issue with: “So, since people don’t know each other in church (an obviously unchangeable condition), the church no longer meets the needs of humanity.”

    Unchangeable? Exactly how is that unchangeable? You mean, I suppose, that since churches have so many people in them that it is not possible to know each other. I’m trying to put the best construction on this but can’t seem to think of any flattering way to interpret this comment. Care to expound?

  • Joe

    I think that was some of sml has said is simply a confusion of Christian fellowship and the Divine Service. Theresa is right, the Divine Service is time for us to shut up and receive God’s Grace through His Means. Eating with our brothers and sisters, knowing their needs, caring for them and using our talents to help spread the Word is part of being the Church Militant – not something you do during the actual Divine Service. Being part of the Church is not a Sunday morning thing – it is a defining aspect of who we are as Christians.

  • Joe

    I think that was some of sml has said is simply a confusion of Christian fellowship and the Divine Service. Theresa is right, the Divine Service is time for us to shut up and receive God’s Grace through His Means. Eating with our brothers and sisters, knowing their needs, caring for them and using our talents to help spread the Word is part of being the Church Militant – not something you do during the actual Divine Service. Being part of the Church is not a Sunday morning thing – it is a defining aspect of who we are as Christians.

  • NotSurprised

    Drat, no ability to edit. Half of my post was directed at Theresa, the other half Jones.

    To clarify my request to Jones about expounding, sir, one of the main points of the question is whether or not our ‘worship’ ‘services’ are consistent with the Scriptures. It is not written anywhere that ‘church’ means ‘a population of 2,000 people who don’t know themselves from Adam.’ If this is in fact the way it is that doesn’t mean it is right, and even if it isn’t ‘wrong’ per se it doesn’t follow that it is healthy.

    It begs the question, therefore, to say that Luther ‘corrected’ the situation. How closely does what happens on Sunday mornings align with what we see going on in the NT? Be truthful. There may be perfectly good reasons for why things are different now, but let us not deceive ourselves by not noticing the numerous structural difference. SML was suggesting that the structure of the NT gatherings was service orientated and I agree with him.

    If perhaps congregations did their ‘Divine Service’ and the service to each other was happening in a different context we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. Alas, it is not happening.

  • NotSurprised

    Drat, no ability to edit. Half of my post was directed at Theresa, the other half Jones.

    To clarify my request to Jones about expounding, sir, one of the main points of the question is whether or not our ‘worship’ ‘services’ are consistent with the Scriptures. It is not written anywhere that ‘church’ means ‘a population of 2,000 people who don’t know themselves from Adam.’ If this is in fact the way it is that doesn’t mean it is right, and even if it isn’t ‘wrong’ per se it doesn’t follow that it is healthy.

    It begs the question, therefore, to say that Luther ‘corrected’ the situation. How closely does what happens on Sunday mornings align with what we see going on in the NT? Be truthful. There may be perfectly good reasons for why things are different now, but let us not deceive ourselves by not noticing the numerous structural difference. SML was suggesting that the structure of the NT gatherings was service orientated and I agree with him.

    If perhaps congregations did their ‘Divine Service’ and the service to each other was happening in a different context we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. Alas, it is not happening.

  • Joe

    I meant to put “shut up” in quotes. Obviously the nature of the Divine Service is the reception of God’s Grace and our response thereto. So shut up was not meant literally.

  • Joe

    I meant to put “shut up” in quotes. Obviously the nature of the Divine Service is the reception of God’s Grace and our response thereto. So shut up was not meant literally.

  • NotSurprised

    To Joe:

    I’ll reiterate what I just said as a response to your distinction between the Divine Service and fellowship. It would be one thing if people really were caring for each other in the manner you speak. They aren’t. Now what?

    I would like someone to show from the Scriptures where anything like the ‘Divine Service’ is presented and where anything like the attitude to ‘shut up and receive the grace’ is given. Where is this principle found? Chapter and verse, if you will.

  • NotSurprised

    To Joe:

    I’ll reiterate what I just said as a response to your distinction between the Divine Service and fellowship. It would be one thing if people really were caring for each other in the manner you speak. They aren’t. Now what?

    I would like someone to show from the Scriptures where anything like the ‘Divine Service’ is presented and where anything like the attitude to ‘shut up and receive the grace’ is given. Where is this principle found? Chapter and verse, if you will.

  • Bruce

    NotSurprised (#19): I’m just going to take a wild gander and guess that “(an obviously unchangeable condition)” was tongue-in-cheek.

  • Bruce

    NotSurprised (#19): I’m just going to take a wild gander and guess that “(an obviously unchangeable condition)” was tongue-in-cheek.

  • NotSurprised

    Hi Bruce,

    You are saying, perhaps, he was employing ‘reductio ad absurdum?’ At any rate, you at least have to make sure you have person’s principle correctly isolated. I didn’t see SML making any argument like “the church does not meet the needs of humanity.” The argument was different but it seems to have gone clean over everyone’s head. I find that disturbing.

  • NotSurprised

    Hi Bruce,

    You are saying, perhaps, he was employing ‘reductio ad absurdum?’ At any rate, you at least have to make sure you have person’s principle correctly isolated. I didn’t see SML making any argument like “the church does not meet the needs of humanity.” The argument was different but it seems to have gone clean over everyone’s head. I find that disturbing.

  • sml

    It seems that some are gathering that I am supporting abandoning corporate worship in favor of house churches. That’s not so. I believe very firmly in the necessity of meeting together. And I believe in bending our ears to listen hard to sound doctrine.

    As to tongues, prophecy, love feasts, etc. My point was mainly that biblically speaking, the members of the congregation were participants in the service–not peripherally, but materially in a way which allowed for them to exhibit the love of Christ for each other (or, as rebuked at times in Corinthians, to neglect to do so–the love feasts were not attacked as wrong… it was their lack of regard for each other). However, I think it is worth noting that the official LCMS position is not that these gifts (prophecy and tongues) have disappeared. If you want corroboration for this, go to http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2199. It is also not the position of the LCMS that tongues, prophecy, etc are promised to always be present. If you follow the link you will see that I am stating the truth of the LCMS position. Our official doctrine, therefore, is not that the “perfect” spoken of in I Corinthians 13 is the Bible, for that would mean that knowledge would also have passed away and that we would already fully know. Many pastors believe that the “perfect” coming spoken of is Christ himself at his second coming, at which time tongues, prophecy, and even knowledge shall pass away because there will be no need for any of them any more. Believe me when I tell you that I have actually inquired about this with pastors.

    As for not knowing people in the church being an unchangeable condition. I would beg you to read I John. Read it with an open heart. I do not feel unknown, unrespected, or unloved in my congregation. I am actively involved in trying to rectify the great divide between the known and the unknown (in ways which my pastors are enthusiastic and encouraging about–I seek to support their efforts and help to make their jobs a joy and not a burden, always deferring to their direction as I seek to do this–and I have the utmost respect and gratitude for their firm commitment to Biblical truth and their own love for the sheep–I hope that will help you to have a better opinion of my pastors and congregation).

    I am not making a statement about individual pastors or congregations. I am making a statement about the material change in the way our society operates and the command of our Lord in regards to the nature of the church–which is, of course, not a building or a synod, but a gathering of believers–and how He intends them to view and treat each other. And I am making observations about the differences between the way in which we operate our worship and the way in which the early church worshiped as testified to in the scriptures. And I am making a statement about where the burden for expressing this love of Christ lies. Does it lie with those who are walking through a dry and empty period in faith? Or does it lie with those who Christ has blessed with confidence in their faith?

    As to works-righteousness. I am not in any way implying that we are saved by love. We are saved by Gods grace through the vehicle of faith, and that, too, is a gift. We also must note, if we are to be Christians who revere the word of our Lord, that true faith will evidence itself. We are no more than shuddering demons if we falsely claim Christ, but bear no fruit. Must we do things? I would tell you that if you have no pull to do any works, most especially works which transmit His love to your brothers, for the great love of God that wells up within you, you should spend time reading in the New Testament to decide what God’s will is for you as His child. I mean that with the utmost respect and love. Seek out His will–is it to do nothing for His people because you are already personally saved, or is it to bear fruit? Ask Him.

  • sml

    It seems that some are gathering that I am supporting abandoning corporate worship in favor of house churches. That’s not so. I believe very firmly in the necessity of meeting together. And I believe in bending our ears to listen hard to sound doctrine.

    As to tongues, prophecy, love feasts, etc. My point was mainly that biblically speaking, the members of the congregation were participants in the service–not peripherally, but materially in a way which allowed for them to exhibit the love of Christ for each other (or, as rebuked at times in Corinthians, to neglect to do so–the love feasts were not attacked as wrong… it was their lack of regard for each other). However, I think it is worth noting that the official LCMS position is not that these gifts (prophecy and tongues) have disappeared. If you want corroboration for this, go to http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2199. It is also not the position of the LCMS that tongues, prophecy, etc are promised to always be present. If you follow the link you will see that I am stating the truth of the LCMS position. Our official doctrine, therefore, is not that the “perfect” spoken of in I Corinthians 13 is the Bible, for that would mean that knowledge would also have passed away and that we would already fully know. Many pastors believe that the “perfect” coming spoken of is Christ himself at his second coming, at which time tongues, prophecy, and even knowledge shall pass away because there will be no need for any of them any more. Believe me when I tell you that I have actually inquired about this with pastors.

    As for not knowing people in the church being an unchangeable condition. I would beg you to read I John. Read it with an open heart. I do not feel unknown, unrespected, or unloved in my congregation. I am actively involved in trying to rectify the great divide between the known and the unknown (in ways which my pastors are enthusiastic and encouraging about–I seek to support their efforts and help to make their jobs a joy and not a burden, always deferring to their direction as I seek to do this–and I have the utmost respect and gratitude for their firm commitment to Biblical truth and their own love for the sheep–I hope that will help you to have a better opinion of my pastors and congregation).

    I am not making a statement about individual pastors or congregations. I am making a statement about the material change in the way our society operates and the command of our Lord in regards to the nature of the church–which is, of course, not a building or a synod, but a gathering of believers–and how He intends them to view and treat each other. And I am making observations about the differences between the way in which we operate our worship and the way in which the early church worshiped as testified to in the scriptures. And I am making a statement about where the burden for expressing this love of Christ lies. Does it lie with those who are walking through a dry and empty period in faith? Or does it lie with those who Christ has blessed with confidence in their faith?

    As to works-righteousness. I am not in any way implying that we are saved by love. We are saved by Gods grace through the vehicle of faith, and that, too, is a gift. We also must note, if we are to be Christians who revere the word of our Lord, that true faith will evidence itself. We are no more than shuddering demons if we falsely claim Christ, but bear no fruit. Must we do things? I would tell you that if you have no pull to do any works, most especially works which transmit His love to your brothers, for the great love of God that wells up within you, you should spend time reading in the New Testament to decide what God’s will is for you as His child. I mean that with the utmost respect and love. Seek out His will–is it to do nothing for His people because you are already personally saved, or is it to bear fruit? Ask Him.

  • Julie Voss

    In our weekly Bible study class we were reading Acts 2 and discussing the different lifestyle of early Christians. A mature member of our church said that he thought the modern church was missing something. We didn’t understand exactly what he meant, but shortly afterward he interrupted the class saying that he was in a lot of pain and needed us to pray for him. We all stopped and went to him and prayed. It felt good to know how to serve him. We needed a little nudge to know how. . .

  • Julie Voss

    In our weekly Bible study class we were reading Acts 2 and discussing the different lifestyle of early Christians. A mature member of our church said that he thought the modern church was missing something. We didn’t understand exactly what he meant, but shortly afterward he interrupted the class saying that he was in a lot of pain and needed us to pray for him. We all stopped and went to him and prayed. It felt good to know how to serve him. We needed a little nudge to know how. . .

  • Bryan Lindemood

    NotSurprised,

    I’m sorry you’ve had such bad experiences. I really am. How do you know that people recieving God’s grace in the Divine Service are not serving one another?

    I never knew sml’s or your needs before, but now I do.

    At our church here, we’re lucky – most folks know most everyone else and we get mad if something bad is happening to us and the pastor (me) doesn’t let us know. We are one body in Christ, through the forgiveness of our sins and His gift of Christ’s own righteousness imputed to us by grace through faith. This I receive through the Divine Service celebrated today in uniformity with that which you seem to want to ignore there early in the book of Acts as they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, and to prayer. I like to think about Faith, Worship, and matters of Justification and Sanctification in terms of breathing.

    Breath in the gifts of God – exhale God’s praises.
    Breath in the works of Christ done for you in Worship, respond in thanks and praise by serving your neighbor. That’s how Divine Service is taught here and in many other places too. I hope Christ helps you connect (or reconnect) to this Life-giving Spirit soon. If you’re ever near Salt Lake City, come and visit at St. John’s Lutheran. Bless you both, NotSurprised and sml.

    in Christ,
    Bryan

  • Bryan Lindemood

    NotSurprised,

    I’m sorry you’ve had such bad experiences. I really am. How do you know that people recieving God’s grace in the Divine Service are not serving one another?

    I never knew sml’s or your needs before, but now I do.

    At our church here, we’re lucky – most folks know most everyone else and we get mad if something bad is happening to us and the pastor (me) doesn’t let us know. We are one body in Christ, through the forgiveness of our sins and His gift of Christ’s own righteousness imputed to us by grace through faith. This I receive through the Divine Service celebrated today in uniformity with that which you seem to want to ignore there early in the book of Acts as they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, and to prayer. I like to think about Faith, Worship, and matters of Justification and Sanctification in terms of breathing.

    Breath in the gifts of God – exhale God’s praises.
    Breath in the works of Christ done for you in Worship, respond in thanks and praise by serving your neighbor. That’s how Divine Service is taught here and in many other places too. I hope Christ helps you connect (or reconnect) to this Life-giving Spirit soon. If you’re ever near Salt Lake City, come and visit at St. John’s Lutheran. Bless you both, NotSurprised and sml.

    in Christ,
    Bryan

  • NotSurprised

    Hi Bryan,

    I appreciate your comments and the spirit in which they were expressed. I was unaware that either SML or myself had specified that we had needs. :)

    In response to ‘how do I know service is not happening’ I, like SML are not referencing individual congregations or individual pastors. It is a generalization, and while thankful that there are many exceptions, believe the generalization to be sound. I ‘know’ it from a number of different angles, spanning my own personal experiences and observations and listening carefully to the experiences of others: in particular, those who have fallen away completely.

    But I do not think SML and myself are ignoring the portions of Acts you mention. The passage you reference goes on, as you well know. For example, I can’t remember the last time I heard of something like verse 45 going on today. Granted, when you are the congregational pivot of such things the way pastors are then you may have heard of similar things but I contend that if it was the general reality churches would be busting out at the seams- regardless of their ‘worship’ style. That’s just one example.

    Naturally, we need to be careful about taking the descriptive passages in Acts as prescriptive.

    I do understand the position on the Divine Service that has been expounded on. I’m still very interested to seeing the underlying principles tied back to concrete Scripture passages.

    —-

    There isn’t a way to edit these comments, are there?

  • NotSurprised

    Hi Bryan,

    I appreciate your comments and the spirit in which they were expressed. I was unaware that either SML or myself had specified that we had needs. :)

    In response to ‘how do I know service is not happening’ I, like SML are not referencing individual congregations or individual pastors. It is a generalization, and while thankful that there are many exceptions, believe the generalization to be sound. I ‘know’ it from a number of different angles, spanning my own personal experiences and observations and listening carefully to the experiences of others: in particular, those who have fallen away completely.

    But I do not think SML and myself are ignoring the portions of Acts you mention. The passage you reference goes on, as you well know. For example, I can’t remember the last time I heard of something like verse 45 going on today. Granted, when you are the congregational pivot of such things the way pastors are then you may have heard of similar things but I contend that if it was the general reality churches would be busting out at the seams- regardless of their ‘worship’ style. That’s just one example.

    Naturally, we need to be careful about taking the descriptive passages in Acts as prescriptive.

    I do understand the position on the Divine Service that has been expounded on. I’m still very interested to seeing the underlying principles tied back to concrete Scripture passages.

    —-

    There isn’t a way to edit these comments, are there?

  • The Jones

    Sorry, not surprise, i was being sarcastic, a little too sarcastic, in the “unchangeable” comment.

  • The Jones

    Sorry, not surprise, i was being sarcastic, a little too sarcastic, in the “unchangeable” comment.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    You two have me confused then? You’re not talking about Worship and the Divine Service? You want everybody to throw in their car keys for a great exchange during the offering? What? Which parts of the divine service are unscriptural? Which parts on unhelpful for conveying the gifts of Christ crucified and risen to sinners (which is the only thing which can really change or motivate the kind of concern and help is seems you are calling for)? And before you go and identify something specific, are you sure?

    If there’s one thing I have learned in my short time in the ministry (8 years) is that one should never second guess the good works of white-haired Lutherans. They were taught not to let anyone know what they were doing (something about a left hand, right hand thing).

    Maybe some young people need to start learning that lesson too. Anyway, just some thoughts. Let me know if you need to borrow my car.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    You two have me confused then? You’re not talking about Worship and the Divine Service? You want everybody to throw in their car keys for a great exchange during the offering? What? Which parts of the divine service are unscriptural? Which parts on unhelpful for conveying the gifts of Christ crucified and risen to sinners (which is the only thing which can really change or motivate the kind of concern and help is seems you are calling for)? And before you go and identify something specific, are you sure?

    If there’s one thing I have learned in my short time in the ministry (8 years) is that one should never second guess the good works of white-haired Lutherans. They were taught not to let anyone know what they were doing (something about a left hand, right hand thing).

    Maybe some young people need to start learning that lesson too. Anyway, just some thoughts. Let me know if you need to borrow my car.

  • Nemo

    Along with Don (#12) I don’t think this post is quite charitable toward the discussion about house and home churches. But I’m curious, how does the “everyone is a minister” concept (which you don’t like) compare to the “priesthood of all believers” concept? Could one not argue that this is the logical conclusions, not of the whole “seeker-sensitive, mega-church” movement, but of the Reformation?

    And, since I will be accused for advocating a withdrawal from church unless I put a disclaimer up, here it is. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” (Hebrews 10:25)

    Bryan @ 31. I don’t think they’re saying the “Divine Service” is unscriptural so much as they are wondering why it is mandated. If it is mandated, point to the verse. If it is not mandated, and a matter of preference, than don’t bash those who have different preferences.

  • Nemo

    Along with Don (#12) I don’t think this post is quite charitable toward the discussion about house and home churches. But I’m curious, how does the “everyone is a minister” concept (which you don’t like) compare to the “priesthood of all believers” concept? Could one not argue that this is the logical conclusions, not of the whole “seeker-sensitive, mega-church” movement, but of the Reformation?

    And, since I will be accused for advocating a withdrawal from church unless I put a disclaimer up, here it is. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” (Hebrews 10:25)

    Bryan @ 31. I don’t think they’re saying the “Divine Service” is unscriptural so much as they are wondering why it is mandated. If it is mandated, point to the verse. If it is not mandated, and a matter of preference, than don’t bash those who have different preferences.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    The thing is, Nemo, The Bible teaches the priesthood of all believers, which is why we get to all help one another and share our faith and everything, which is so good. But Lutherans also work to square this teaching with the Biblical teaching of the Office of Holy Ministry (called by the Spirit through the “Priesthood”) as taught in especially in the pastoral epistles. These very clear passages (not to mention the very practical reality of how terrible we all are at ministering to ourselves) are what make “everyone a minister” such non-Biblical poo-poo.

    Nemo, it is mandated that we meet keep “meeting together.” For what? Why? Well, that stuff around that passage about the Sacrifice to end all sacrifices and the perfecting forever of those who are sanctified does sound pretty good. When I’m paying attention to all the Bible I’m getting in the Divine service, and I would argue, many times even when I am not doing so well in keeping focused, I am having done to me the very thing that Christ’s death and resurrection were for me, through listening to the Word. He even is incarnationally there for me through the sacraments. Its awesome what God is doing there and it is the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42), it is true fellowship as Christ really unites me with himself in Holy Communion for the forgiveness of sins (where as an added benefit I have fellowship, actual perfect unity with every other Christian who ever lived and who ever will live in Christ – another holy awesome!), and we pray. Many wonders and signs happen in the congregation where I’m at even though most folks around here seem blind to the amazing ways in which Christ is working here. We’re small, we don’t have a lot of money for other fancy stuff, and I often complain about this to myself. But, then I remember that my trust is in God alone. He provides. There was a time when I had other preferences for worship. I wanted it to be more exciting was really what it amounted too. But I didn’t really understand what God was doing to me in the service before. I could hardly believe what He was doing last Sunday. Most eyes wouldn’t have seen it though. Peace, Brother Nemo.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    The thing is, Nemo, The Bible teaches the priesthood of all believers, which is why we get to all help one another and share our faith and everything, which is so good. But Lutherans also work to square this teaching with the Biblical teaching of the Office of Holy Ministry (called by the Spirit through the “Priesthood”) as taught in especially in the pastoral epistles. These very clear passages (not to mention the very practical reality of how terrible we all are at ministering to ourselves) are what make “everyone a minister” such non-Biblical poo-poo.

    Nemo, it is mandated that we meet keep “meeting together.” For what? Why? Well, that stuff around that passage about the Sacrifice to end all sacrifices and the perfecting forever of those who are sanctified does sound pretty good. When I’m paying attention to all the Bible I’m getting in the Divine service, and I would argue, many times even when I am not doing so well in keeping focused, I am having done to me the very thing that Christ’s death and resurrection were for me, through listening to the Word. He even is incarnationally there for me through the sacraments. Its awesome what God is doing there and it is the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42), it is true fellowship as Christ really unites me with himself in Holy Communion for the forgiveness of sins (where as an added benefit I have fellowship, actual perfect unity with every other Christian who ever lived and who ever will live in Christ – another holy awesome!), and we pray. Many wonders and signs happen in the congregation where I’m at even though most folks around here seem blind to the amazing ways in which Christ is working here. We’re small, we don’t have a lot of money for other fancy stuff, and I often complain about this to myself. But, then I remember that my trust is in God alone. He provides. There was a time when I had other preferences for worship. I wanted it to be more exciting was really what it amounted too. But I didn’t really understand what God was doing to me in the service before. I could hardly believe what He was doing last Sunday. Most eyes wouldn’t have seen it though. Peace, Brother Nemo.

  • sml

    Taking the NT as a whole, it is impossible to arrive at the conclusion that the divine service as printed and worshiped today is both completely in line with the Lord’s teachings on worship and encompasses the entire teaching of our Lord on worship.

    Or are we meant to disregard certain portions of God’s teachings in the NT on worship?

    But it can be broken down in great generalities based off of Jesus’ words to the woman at the well in John chapter 4.
    “23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

    Who is the truth? Of course, we know that Jesus is the truth, ultimately–worship must be done in Jesus name, and no other name will do. What is worshiping in “spirit?”

    Romans 12″1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    So, worshiping in spirit is offering ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. And this verse shows that it includes submitting to His will–His good, pleasing and perfect will. And what, then, is this good, pleasing and perfect will? What does Romans say? What does the NT say? Yes, honoring God with our bodies; yes, gathering together; yes, sharing His gospel. But over all of those, considered more important than all of those things, because those things truly flow out from it, is love. Not the ridiculous, petty, selfish love that is thrown at us by our culture. But love as God defines it.

    So, worshiping in spirit and in truth requires Jesus and none other, and requires us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices which necessitates an outflow of His love through the gracious gift of the Spirit given and sustained through Him. At its very essence, worship requires an outflowing of God’s love through us.

    Now… how is this possible if the believers do not even know the names of the people further along in their pew? Or how, if the only time they have to discover those names is the fleeting passing of the peace?

    Now, I’m not talking of anything so ridiculous and disordered as making the service into a free-for-all whereby the believers noisily display and take goods to and from each other like some sort of money-free flea market. I don’t think anything I wrote ought to have given that impression.

    But does the scripture give any precedent for believers getting to know each other when they came together to worship and to receive the Lord’s supper and to baptize? Read through I Corinthians. I submit that it does indeed set that precedent. And, considering the nature of our society as a whole, I also submit that our present style of worship is not sufficient to accomplish this all important, for God, aspect of the church.

    Am I saying that the divine service is evil or to be wholly abandoned? No. I believe there are communities which are still in existence where the fellowship is not so disjointed and the divine service does not hinder it. In such settings, it is wholly appropriate, though not mandated.

    Is the divine service sufficient in all settings for the purposes of God for His church? Again, does it represent in full every aspect of what God presents in His word on worship? An honest survey of the NT does not support that it does. And we, as a church, must not worship tradition over God’s own word.

    My pastor has taught that in years past (how many, I don’t know), the passing of the peace consisted of believers going to each other and confessing their sins against each other before they would permit themselves to receive the Lord’s body and blood (and perhaps also before any offering was taken). This was certainly something that would take time. And it was also something that would have permitted believers to learn about and show God’s love to each other. I wish that we still did this. I think it was a godly practice. But it is considered impractical. Of course it is impractical in the view of this world, but I think it was very pleasing to God.

    That is one example of something that could be done in order to rectify this shortcoming.

    Another could be an expansion of the partaking of the Lord’s supper into a I Corinthian’s style love feast.

    All possibilities would require the service to increase in its time spent rather than to decrease. All possibilities would be considered impractical, because relationships necessary for understanding how to serve God require time. But we should not conform ourselves to this world. If time is necessary, let our worships be longer.

  • sml

    Taking the NT as a whole, it is impossible to arrive at the conclusion that the divine service as printed and worshiped today is both completely in line with the Lord’s teachings on worship and encompasses the entire teaching of our Lord on worship.

    Or are we meant to disregard certain portions of God’s teachings in the NT on worship?

    But it can be broken down in great generalities based off of Jesus’ words to the woman at the well in John chapter 4.
    “23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

    Who is the truth? Of course, we know that Jesus is the truth, ultimately–worship must be done in Jesus name, and no other name will do. What is worshiping in “spirit?”

    Romans 12″1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    So, worshiping in spirit is offering ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. And this verse shows that it includes submitting to His will–His good, pleasing and perfect will. And what, then, is this good, pleasing and perfect will? What does Romans say? What does the NT say? Yes, honoring God with our bodies; yes, gathering together; yes, sharing His gospel. But over all of those, considered more important than all of those things, because those things truly flow out from it, is love. Not the ridiculous, petty, selfish love that is thrown at us by our culture. But love as God defines it.

    So, worshiping in spirit and in truth requires Jesus and none other, and requires us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices which necessitates an outflow of His love through the gracious gift of the Spirit given and sustained through Him. At its very essence, worship requires an outflowing of God’s love through us.

    Now… how is this possible if the believers do not even know the names of the people further along in their pew? Or how, if the only time they have to discover those names is the fleeting passing of the peace?

    Now, I’m not talking of anything so ridiculous and disordered as making the service into a free-for-all whereby the believers noisily display and take goods to and from each other like some sort of money-free flea market. I don’t think anything I wrote ought to have given that impression.

    But does the scripture give any precedent for believers getting to know each other when they came together to worship and to receive the Lord’s supper and to baptize? Read through I Corinthians. I submit that it does indeed set that precedent. And, considering the nature of our society as a whole, I also submit that our present style of worship is not sufficient to accomplish this all important, for God, aspect of the church.

    Am I saying that the divine service is evil or to be wholly abandoned? No. I believe there are communities which are still in existence where the fellowship is not so disjointed and the divine service does not hinder it. In such settings, it is wholly appropriate, though not mandated.

    Is the divine service sufficient in all settings for the purposes of God for His church? Again, does it represent in full every aspect of what God presents in His word on worship? An honest survey of the NT does not support that it does. And we, as a church, must not worship tradition over God’s own word.

    My pastor has taught that in years past (how many, I don’t know), the passing of the peace consisted of believers going to each other and confessing their sins against each other before they would permit themselves to receive the Lord’s body and blood (and perhaps also before any offering was taken). This was certainly something that would take time. And it was also something that would have permitted believers to learn about and show God’s love to each other. I wish that we still did this. I think it was a godly practice. But it is considered impractical. Of course it is impractical in the view of this world, but I think it was very pleasing to God.

    That is one example of something that could be done in order to rectify this shortcoming.

    Another could be an expansion of the partaking of the Lord’s supper into a I Corinthian’s style love feast.

    All possibilities would require the service to increase in its time spent rather than to decrease. All possibilities would be considered impractical, because relationships necessary for understanding how to serve God require time. But we should not conform ourselves to this world. If time is necessary, let our worships be longer.

  • NotSurprised

    heh great comment, Nemo. Speaking for myself (and not SML) I think you nailed my view, although I would add that I have a more substantive criticism that the particular ‘preference’ (advocates of the DS would never concede it to be something as superficial sounding as a preference, though) called the ‘Divine Service’ misses some important aspects of Christian community as illustrated in the New Testament.

    Bryan-

    I didn’t perceive my comments to you to be disrespectful and I even commended you for the spirit in which they were uttered. Why the sudden switch to an entirely sarcastic and facetious tone?

    Your comment is like a shotgun blast: numerous strands in numerous directions. Which of them did you want me to take seriously and which were rhetoric where you expect the answer to be assumed?

    But I can play, too. Watch. :)

    I am sorry that I didn’t stop my reading at ‘devoted to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer’ and continued on in the same passage. Far be it from me to point to the full context, which continues, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”

    Which part made you uncomfortable? Is this too much law? A little heavy on the third use, you might say! A little too convicting maybe? Maybe this one hits too close to home and that accounts for your change of tune. Of course it is convicting- to all of us. That doesn’t mean we mock it or the person who cites it! We can ask ‘what has changed’? but it is no good trying to pretend that it is the same.

    In my scant experience in the ministry (only 7 years, so you’ve got me beat. You are henceforth in my mind, The Elder) I obviously was unaware that there are generous people in the church, and I thank you for bringing that too my attention. If I had known that I would have made a qualifying comment about generalizations, and since I didn’t, I beg your forgiveness!
    :)

    This is a lot of fun and boy I feel better! :)

    Back to the point: Is the Divine Service and the principles trotted out in its defense supportable from the Scriptures? The point of the DS might be to ‘shut up and receive the means of grace’ but the challenge is where is that principle illustrated in the Scriptures?

    If the challenge makes ya’ll uncomfortable, you have the Lutheran church itself to blame. 16 years of Lutheran education and 7 years of Lutheran ministry, I was under the impression this whole time that it matters what the Scriptures say. Perhaps if I had 20 years of Lutheran education and 8 years of professional ministry I would have been corrected from such a naive point of view. ;)

  • NotSurprised

    heh great comment, Nemo. Speaking for myself (and not SML) I think you nailed my view, although I would add that I have a more substantive criticism that the particular ‘preference’ (advocates of the DS would never concede it to be something as superficial sounding as a preference, though) called the ‘Divine Service’ misses some important aspects of Christian community as illustrated in the New Testament.

    Bryan-

    I didn’t perceive my comments to you to be disrespectful and I even commended you for the spirit in which they were uttered. Why the sudden switch to an entirely sarcastic and facetious tone?

    Your comment is like a shotgun blast: numerous strands in numerous directions. Which of them did you want me to take seriously and which were rhetoric where you expect the answer to be assumed?

    But I can play, too. Watch. :)

    I am sorry that I didn’t stop my reading at ‘devoted to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer’ and continued on in the same passage. Far be it from me to point to the full context, which continues, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”

    Which part made you uncomfortable? Is this too much law? A little heavy on the third use, you might say! A little too convicting maybe? Maybe this one hits too close to home and that accounts for your change of tune. Of course it is convicting- to all of us. That doesn’t mean we mock it or the person who cites it! We can ask ‘what has changed’? but it is no good trying to pretend that it is the same.

    In my scant experience in the ministry (only 7 years, so you’ve got me beat. You are henceforth in my mind, The Elder) I obviously was unaware that there are generous people in the church, and I thank you for bringing that too my attention. If I had known that I would have made a qualifying comment about generalizations, and since I didn’t, I beg your forgiveness!
    :)

    This is a lot of fun and boy I feel better! :)

    Back to the point: Is the Divine Service and the principles trotted out in its defense supportable from the Scriptures? The point of the DS might be to ‘shut up and receive the means of grace’ but the challenge is where is that principle illustrated in the Scriptures?

    If the challenge makes ya’ll uncomfortable, you have the Lutheran church itself to blame. 16 years of Lutheran education and 7 years of Lutheran ministry, I was under the impression this whole time that it matters what the Scriptures say. Perhaps if I had 20 years of Lutheran education and 8 years of professional ministry I would have been corrected from such a naive point of view. ;)

  • NotSurprised

    “Sorry, not surprise, i was being sarcastic, a little too sarcastic, in the “unchangeable” comment.”

    Ok. Got it. Can you explain what you mean, though? I really don’t know what you’re trying to say.

    My thoughts are that if our ‘community’ is so large that we are out of touch with each other, it is not a very robust notion of ‘community’ at work, and that would be an argument for operating at a smaller scale to make it more realistically possible to address the cares and concerns of our brethren. But I don’t know if this speaks to your point.

  • NotSurprised

    “Sorry, not surprise, i was being sarcastic, a little too sarcastic, in the “unchangeable” comment.”

    Ok. Got it. Can you explain what you mean, though? I really don’t know what you’re trying to say.

    My thoughts are that if our ‘community’ is so large that we are out of touch with each other, it is not a very robust notion of ‘community’ at work, and that would be an argument for operating at a smaller scale to make it more realistically possible to address the cares and concerns of our brethren. But I don’t know if this speaks to your point.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    When reading about those who would encourage the members of the Body of Christ to be self-feeders independent of local churches, 1 Cor. 12 comes to mind. And so, I wonder why these people would suggest that the heart, head, neck, lungs, hands, feet, and such of the Bride of Christ ought to be disconnected–making Her look and function like a suicide bomber after the dynamite goes off.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    When reading about those who would encourage the members of the Body of Christ to be self-feeders independent of local churches, 1 Cor. 12 comes to mind. And so, I wonder why these people would suggest that the heart, head, neck, lungs, hands, feet, and such of the Bride of Christ ought to be disconnected–making Her look and function like a suicide bomber after the dynamite goes off.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic at all in #33. I was trying to speak very authentically to Nemo. Neither in #31. Really, if you need my auto, you should just say so.

    You two really did confuse me. Really. Take the beauty of what we believe God is doing for us which I tried to seriously describe in post 33 along with my questions to you in post 32 and try to answer them rather than get all offended. What is not “in spirit and truth” about the Divine Service? How would you change it? Which parts of the New Testament’s teaching on worship does the Divine Service Violate? Which parts of the New Testament teaching on Worship does the Divine Service miss. What did Luther screw up when he reformed the mass? What should we maintain for the sake of continuing to call Rome to Reformation? I think these are all good and pertinent and serious questions? I really didn’t mean to sound sarcastic. Perhaps you really are having fun but post 35 didn’t come off that way. Maybe you didn’t see post 33 before you posted 35. I often do that myself. Peace, NotSurprised, but I am still a bit confused as to what you are asking for. You told us what it wouldn’t be, but not what it would actually look like? Do you want the Spirit and Truth passage worked into the liturgy more often, every week? I don’t think I would have a problem with that as long as the music didn’t stink (just kidding).

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic at all in #33. I was trying to speak very authentically to Nemo. Neither in #31. Really, if you need my auto, you should just say so.

    You two really did confuse me. Really. Take the beauty of what we believe God is doing for us which I tried to seriously describe in post 33 along with my questions to you in post 32 and try to answer them rather than get all offended. What is not “in spirit and truth” about the Divine Service? How would you change it? Which parts of the New Testament’s teaching on worship does the Divine Service Violate? Which parts of the New Testament teaching on Worship does the Divine Service miss. What did Luther screw up when he reformed the mass? What should we maintain for the sake of continuing to call Rome to Reformation? I think these are all good and pertinent and serious questions? I really didn’t mean to sound sarcastic. Perhaps you really are having fun but post 35 didn’t come off that way. Maybe you didn’t see post 33 before you posted 35. I often do that myself. Peace, NotSurprised, but I am still a bit confused as to what you are asking for. You told us what it wouldn’t be, but not what it would actually look like? Do you want the Spirit and Truth passage worked into the liturgy more often, every week? I don’t think I would have a problem with that as long as the music didn’t stink (just kidding).

  • Bryan Lindemood

    (kidding) about stinky music. Its easy to be misunderstood here so I try to type clearly. I don’t always succeed. I agree – sometimes it would be nice to have a 5 min. edit feature.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    (kidding) about stinky music. Its easy to be misunderstood here so I try to type clearly. I don’t always succeed. I agree – sometimes it would be nice to have a 5 min. edit feature.

  • NotSurprised

    “I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic at all in #33.”

    heh heh I’ll take your word for it. Sure looked like it. And yes, I was having fun. I’m here for the entertainment of others. Certain folks like to wind me up and then watch what happens… I wouldn’t want to disappoint. :)

    “I think these are all good and pertinent and serious questions?”

    I’m not prepared to say they aren’t good questions. However, I think that my question if more pertinent at this point and I think that advocates of a certain perspective on ‘Lutheran Worship’ need to show that this perspective is Scriptural, especially when as is so often the case these advocates take issue with other views.

    The question I have in mind at this point is simply the notion that we are called on to sit down, shut up, and receive the means of grace, and not concern ourselves with what our response may or may not be to what we’ve just received vis a vis our brothers. That would be legalism and if you want that by golly if you care about that sort of thing the Bahai is just as good. So the argument seems to go.

    This perspective has been shared by four or five individuals now and I think it needs to be justified from the Scriptures. It wouldn’t need to be justified if we were Papists. But since we say we are sola scriptura then it needs to be justified.

  • NotSurprised

    “I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic at all in #33.”

    heh heh I’ll take your word for it. Sure looked like it. And yes, I was having fun. I’m here for the entertainment of others. Certain folks like to wind me up and then watch what happens… I wouldn’t want to disappoint. :)

    “I think these are all good and pertinent and serious questions?”

    I’m not prepared to say they aren’t good questions. However, I think that my question if more pertinent at this point and I think that advocates of a certain perspective on ‘Lutheran Worship’ need to show that this perspective is Scriptural, especially when as is so often the case these advocates take issue with other views.

    The question I have in mind at this point is simply the notion that we are called on to sit down, shut up, and receive the means of grace, and not concern ourselves with what our response may or may not be to what we’ve just received vis a vis our brothers. That would be legalism and if you want that by golly if you care about that sort of thing the Bahai is just as good. So the argument seems to go.

    This perspective has been shared by four or five individuals now and I think it needs to be justified from the Scriptures. It wouldn’t need to be justified if we were Papists. But since we say we are sola scriptura then it needs to be justified.

  • NotSurprised

    For the record, my criticism applies also to contemporary ‘worship’ as it does traditional ‘worship.’ There is no difference in the result of either approach. People go, they receive, they leave. There is no structured attempt to try to build each other up. I see rank individualism as the practical outcome of both approaches. This is not, for me, a ‘traditional’ versus ‘contemporary.’ I could put up with stinky music or crusty hymns equally if there was genuine service to each other going on.

  • NotSurprised

    For the record, my criticism applies also to contemporary ‘worship’ as it does traditional ‘worship.’ There is no difference in the result of either approach. People go, they receive, they leave. There is no structured attempt to try to build each other up. I see rank individualism as the practical outcome of both approaches. This is not, for me, a ‘traditional’ versus ‘contemporary.’ I could put up with stinky music or crusty hymns equally if there was genuine service to each other going on.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    NotSurprised wrote: “There is no structured attempt to try to build each other up.”

    Where? In my experience there are a lot of churches (traditional and contemporary preaching Christ’s Cross and Resurrection today) trying to address this in all sorts of structured ways. Some churches do this well, some don’t. Some do it well, but sin and separation between Christians still appears to get in the way. Sometimes this appearance, beyond all good intentions to the contrary, is allowed to trump the reality of Christ’s Cross and resurrection in the people and sometimes congregations are great at redirecting each other in such conflicts back to the cross. But I think most congregations at least are trying to do this in a structured way. Perhaps your critique is simply that these intentions are a lot of times very hard to discern to any visitor and even to many members. I think I understand that.

    For the record, I don’t remember telling anyone to ever sit down and shut up in church. In fact I am constantly asking everyone to sing out and to participate and interact meaningfully in the Divine Service (for example, when there is a written prayer or collect: “don’t just read it, pray it” or “think about the words and try to mean them as you pray”.)

    And who said that we weren’t to concern ourselves with a response? We know there will be a response where God’s Word is proclaimed and the sacraments faithfully administered. If there were no response or no organized way of caring for the needs of the body, this would indeed be cause for great concern!

    So, I think I’m agreeing with you, NotSurprised. However, I think all the New Testament is supportive of all the things God is doing in the Divine Service. I’m not seeing the incongruity that you see here. Your gonna need to at least help me out a little more here. Which is why I asked the questions I asked above. And by the way, thanks for taking my word for it. I meant it.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    NotSurprised wrote: “There is no structured attempt to try to build each other up.”

    Where? In my experience there are a lot of churches (traditional and contemporary preaching Christ’s Cross and Resurrection today) trying to address this in all sorts of structured ways. Some churches do this well, some don’t. Some do it well, but sin and separation between Christians still appears to get in the way. Sometimes this appearance, beyond all good intentions to the contrary, is allowed to trump the reality of Christ’s Cross and resurrection in the people and sometimes congregations are great at redirecting each other in such conflicts back to the cross. But I think most congregations at least are trying to do this in a structured way. Perhaps your critique is simply that these intentions are a lot of times very hard to discern to any visitor and even to many members. I think I understand that.

    For the record, I don’t remember telling anyone to ever sit down and shut up in church. In fact I am constantly asking everyone to sing out and to participate and interact meaningfully in the Divine Service (for example, when there is a written prayer or collect: “don’t just read it, pray it” or “think about the words and try to mean them as you pray”.)

    And who said that we weren’t to concern ourselves with a response? We know there will be a response where God’s Word is proclaimed and the sacraments faithfully administered. If there were no response or no organized way of caring for the needs of the body, this would indeed be cause for great concern!

    So, I think I’m agreeing with you, NotSurprised. However, I think all the New Testament is supportive of all the things God is doing in the Divine Service. I’m not seeing the incongruity that you see here. Your gonna need to at least help me out a little more here. Which is why I asked the questions I asked above. And by the way, thanks for taking my word for it. I meant it.

  • NotSurprised

    “Where? In my experience there are a lot of churches … trying to address this in all sorts of structured ways.”

    I mean within the context of the one time out of the week when Christians come together: Sunday mornings. Generally, after the ‘service’ is over, you won’t see most of the other members until the next week. The time that you are ‘together’ really just means ‘together in the room.’

    If there is a person who needs a car (to use your example) three pews up there is never a point in the time together where this need will ever be recognized. After the service, this person makes a beeline out the door just like everyone else. There may very well be people who have an extra car to lend or even give. But there is nothing built into the gathering to put the two together.

    “For the record, I don’t remember telling anyone to ever sit down and shut up in church.”

    The ‘shut up’ phraseology comes in previous commentators. See #15 and #20 for example. The concept, if not the exact phrase, is evident in other comments as well.

    “In fact I am constantly asking everyone to sing out and to participate and interact meaningfully in the Divine Service”

    We have different ideas about what we mean by participate. I think SML is with me on this one. See #11 for an introduction to what we mean by participation. I would add a passage like Romans 12:4-9, which is especially applicable since it begins with how we act ‘in view of God’s mercy’, ie, explicitly what our worship consists of.

    Let me type in a chunk:

    “If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve, if it is teaching, let him teach, if it is encouraging, let him encourage, if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously, if its leadership, let him govern diligently, if it is showing mercy let him do so cheerfully.”

    We can suppose that ‘if it is preaching, let him preach’ and ‘if it is shepherding, let him shepherd’ would fit here even if not stated. So, the point is, precisely when on Sunday mornings are the people with the gift of encouragement going to use it? What about the ones with the gift of mercy? What about the evangelist? And so on and so forth. The current structure gives expression to just a few of the gifts, and these few we’ve tended to focus on ‘professionals’ such as the pastor, the organist, the choir director. What about Chuck who is a master mechanic? Not spiritual enough, perhaps, but the point is that that there is little built into the morning for others to make use of their gifts, nor is there much opportunity for hearing other people’s concerns, let alone doing something about them.

    “If there were no response or no organized way of caring for the needs of the body, this would indeed be cause for great concern!”

    No organized way? What, the service committee? We disagree, I think. I think there is plenty of cause for concern. What constitutes a ‘response’? Sending a card? Whatever response there is it pales in comparison to the response witnessed in the NT. The reason why Christianity flourished had a lot to do with the fact that there was no question that these were transformed communities.

    “I think all the New Testament is supportive of all the things God is doing in the Divine Service.”

    All of the good things in the DS have been stripped down to their barest possible efficacious elements. Instead of a love feast you have the drive-through communion. Instead of ‘giving to everyone in need’ the money goes in a plate and presumably someone else makes sure that it goes to a good cause. Instead of admonishment of each other and robust personal confession and absolution (Col. 3:13-16) there are simultaneously spoken words of penitence. In all of the good things we might point out in the DS they are all distillations of something much more pronounced in the NT. Indeed, we want it that way. Just to stick it to the anabaptists we baptize with a few drops.

    Yes, the drive through Lord’s supper is still efficacious. Are we so sure that the only point of the supper was merely to receive the elements? They called it a love feast: the abuse was on the other side. In other words, NT practice was wholly incarnational. People laughed, people ate, people cried, people loved. And by love I don’t mean that sissy panzy crap, I mean they loved unto death. And thousands were converted; their numbers grew daily.

    The way in which the NT Christians met together allowed all of the gifts to be expressed.

  • NotSurprised

    “Where? In my experience there are a lot of churches … trying to address this in all sorts of structured ways.”

    I mean within the context of the one time out of the week when Christians come together: Sunday mornings. Generally, after the ‘service’ is over, you won’t see most of the other members until the next week. The time that you are ‘together’ really just means ‘together in the room.’

    If there is a person who needs a car (to use your example) three pews up there is never a point in the time together where this need will ever be recognized. After the service, this person makes a beeline out the door just like everyone else. There may very well be people who have an extra car to lend or even give. But there is nothing built into the gathering to put the two together.

    “For the record, I don’t remember telling anyone to ever sit down and shut up in church.”

    The ‘shut up’ phraseology comes in previous commentators. See #15 and #20 for example. The concept, if not the exact phrase, is evident in other comments as well.

    “In fact I am constantly asking everyone to sing out and to participate and interact meaningfully in the Divine Service”

    We have different ideas about what we mean by participate. I think SML is with me on this one. See #11 for an introduction to what we mean by participation. I would add a passage like Romans 12:4-9, which is especially applicable since it begins with how we act ‘in view of God’s mercy’, ie, explicitly what our worship consists of.

    Let me type in a chunk:

    “If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve, if it is teaching, let him teach, if it is encouraging, let him encourage, if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously, if its leadership, let him govern diligently, if it is showing mercy let him do so cheerfully.”

    We can suppose that ‘if it is preaching, let him preach’ and ‘if it is shepherding, let him shepherd’ would fit here even if not stated. So, the point is, precisely when on Sunday mornings are the people with the gift of encouragement going to use it? What about the ones with the gift of mercy? What about the evangelist? And so on and so forth. The current structure gives expression to just a few of the gifts, and these few we’ve tended to focus on ‘professionals’ such as the pastor, the organist, the choir director. What about Chuck who is a master mechanic? Not spiritual enough, perhaps, but the point is that that there is little built into the morning for others to make use of their gifts, nor is there much opportunity for hearing other people’s concerns, let alone doing something about them.

    “If there were no response or no organized way of caring for the needs of the body, this would indeed be cause for great concern!”

    No organized way? What, the service committee? We disagree, I think. I think there is plenty of cause for concern. What constitutes a ‘response’? Sending a card? Whatever response there is it pales in comparison to the response witnessed in the NT. The reason why Christianity flourished had a lot to do with the fact that there was no question that these were transformed communities.

    “I think all the New Testament is supportive of all the things God is doing in the Divine Service.”

    All of the good things in the DS have been stripped down to their barest possible efficacious elements. Instead of a love feast you have the drive-through communion. Instead of ‘giving to everyone in need’ the money goes in a plate and presumably someone else makes sure that it goes to a good cause. Instead of admonishment of each other and robust personal confession and absolution (Col. 3:13-16) there are simultaneously spoken words of penitence. In all of the good things we might point out in the DS they are all distillations of something much more pronounced in the NT. Indeed, we want it that way. Just to stick it to the anabaptists we baptize with a few drops.

    Yes, the drive through Lord’s supper is still efficacious. Are we so sure that the only point of the supper was merely to receive the elements? They called it a love feast: the abuse was on the other side. In other words, NT practice was wholly incarnational. People laughed, people ate, people cried, people loved. And by love I don’t mean that sissy panzy crap, I mean they loved unto death. And thousands were converted; their numbers grew daily.

    The way in which the NT Christians met together allowed all of the gifts to be expressed.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    This has been an interesting discussion (sort of), but I would have no desire at all to go to church if I knew that I would not hear the forgiveness of my sins, nor receive the Lord’s Body and Blood in His Supper. If worship was about something I had to manufacture in my heart for it to be in spirit and truth, I would rather just sleep in or go fishing. But turning worship into predominantly law is what most folks think its about. It seems to be our default setting, which is, I believe, why it is such a common misunderstanding of worship. But I also believe that its predominance throughout American Christianity has helped many to believe that they do not need the church. After all, if it is mostly about what I do, or how deeply I mean it, well then, who cares.

    I think that if more people understood the miracles of what God accomplishes today for His people through Divine Worship, some people would be brought to life by such a Word.

    The Spirit does take care of the response, although its never enough for some people. The way of the cross is always hidden to the eyes. The way of Glory always promises to tickle us right where we itch but fails to deliver. Our culture and even our church is becoming more and more closed to faithful Worship. Perhaps it is our affluence that is closing our eyes to Christ as He reveals Himself.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    This has been an interesting discussion (sort of), but I would have no desire at all to go to church if I knew that I would not hear the forgiveness of my sins, nor receive the Lord’s Body and Blood in His Supper. If worship was about something I had to manufacture in my heart for it to be in spirit and truth, I would rather just sleep in or go fishing. But turning worship into predominantly law is what most folks think its about. It seems to be our default setting, which is, I believe, why it is such a common misunderstanding of worship. But I also believe that its predominance throughout American Christianity has helped many to believe that they do not need the church. After all, if it is mostly about what I do, or how deeply I mean it, well then, who cares.

    I think that if more people understood the miracles of what God accomplishes today for His people through Divine Worship, some people would be brought to life by such a Word.

    The Spirit does take care of the response, although its never enough for some people. The way of the cross is always hidden to the eyes. The way of Glory always promises to tickle us right where we itch but fails to deliver. Our culture and even our church is becoming more and more closed to faithful Worship. Perhaps it is our affluence that is closing our eyes to Christ as He reveals Himself.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    NotSurprised, where in the Bible does it support your view of New Testament Worship (not the NT view necessarily) which is always so easily seen as transformed? That’s not how I read the letters to the Corinthians at all. They easily had just as burdensome of sin problems around their love feasts as any Christian congregation today.

    And where does the Bible mandate that all of what you imagine the New Testament church was like has to happen only on Sunday morning? I don’t read that in the New Testament. So in addition to living out his vocation of Mechanic every day in a Christian way, the Mechanic member has to give his services away on Sunday too? How much less would you prescribe he charge for a fellow Christian? Maybe we should just let him work that out for himself and let him give His charity as He is moved by the Spirit. Your right in one sense, if there is no carry through or concern carried out through the rest of the week, there’s a problem. I would change churches. It doesn’t sound like you are complaining about your own congregation, so quit presupposing every other Christian congregation sucks worse than yours. Whatever happened to putting the best construction on everything. Good night. Hope your feeling better tomorrow.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    NotSurprised, where in the Bible does it support your view of New Testament Worship (not the NT view necessarily) which is always so easily seen as transformed? That’s not how I read the letters to the Corinthians at all. They easily had just as burdensome of sin problems around their love feasts as any Christian congregation today.

    And where does the Bible mandate that all of what you imagine the New Testament church was like has to happen only on Sunday morning? I don’t read that in the New Testament. So in addition to living out his vocation of Mechanic every day in a Christian way, the Mechanic member has to give his services away on Sunday too? How much less would you prescribe he charge for a fellow Christian? Maybe we should just let him work that out for himself and let him give His charity as He is moved by the Spirit. Your right in one sense, if there is no carry through or concern carried out through the rest of the week, there’s a problem. I would change churches. It doesn’t sound like you are complaining about your own congregation, so quit presupposing every other Christian congregation sucks worse than yours. Whatever happened to putting the best construction on everything. Good night. Hope your feeling better tomorrow.

  • NotSurprised

    “If worship was about something I had to manufacture in my heart for it to be in spirit and truth,”

    The ‘spirit and truth’ branch is being held by SML.

    “why it is such a common misunderstanding of worship.”

    Precisely what the appropriate understanding of worship is one of the things in contention.

    “After all, if it is mostly about what I do, or how deeply I mean it, well then, who cares.”

    Sure, I agree. But this isn’t much different than “I would have no desire at all to go to church if I knew that I would not hear”

    You see, it’s still all about you. It’s just ‘you’ for different reasons with different emphases. For you it is about personally hearing the Gospel and receiving the sacraments. All about you.

    “The way of the cross is always hidden to the eyes.”

    Always?

    “The way of Glory always promises to tickle us right where we itch but fails to deliver.”

    In this context, fails to deliver what?

    “NotSurprised, where in the Bible does it support your view of New Testament Worship”

    This is exactly what I figured what would happen. After four, five, maybe six requests of my own to have your position defended from the Scriptures, I give one brief response and its back on me.

    If you can’t defend your views on worship from the Scriptures then you shouldn’t put them forward.

    “They easily had just as burdensome of sin problems around their love feasts as any Christian congregation today.”

    Eh? I was talking about what they did when they came together. The point of it was that they were chastised for their EXCESS. We’ve got the opposite going on.

    “And where does the Bible mandate that all of what you imagine the New Testament church was like has to happen only on Sunday morning?”

    Oh, I certainly don’t think that. The Sunday morning emphasis is an artifact of traditional understandings of ‘worship.’ I wouldn’t dream of confining it to just Sunday.

    “Your right in one sense, if there is no carry through or concern carried out through the rest of the week, there’s a problem.”

    And there is a problem.

    “I would change churches.”

    Why? They’re all structured roughly the same way. I think of both traditional and contemporary ‘style’ churches as fiber pills. Sure, you still get your fiber. Maybe the traditional style church is right that you need more vitamin A. Maybe the contemporary style church has a little too much filler. *shrug* You can get your fiber from a pill or you can get it by eating food. I think God likes the fact that we have to chew our food. The movement of the jaws is as important as the nutrients in the food. The communal aspect of the eating I think is important, too. In contrast, many churches are like pharmacies. Everything in a pill, nothing to chew. It is only about your own personal experience of the event. I prefer a steak and a beer to a pill and a glass of water. With friends, of course. :)

    Structurally speaking, this is how most churches are, so ‘changing churches’ is meaningless, and that’s why people are moving to smaller structures.

    “It doesn’t sound like you are complaining about your own congregation,”

    What makes you say that? You think if I knew someone in need I refer them to my congregation? Heavens, no. You think I would let them know I have needs? What would be the point? I’ve been to lots of churches in the area. They’re all the same: the people are very kind. Nice. Nice is the word I’m looking for. Very nice. But I have no expectations that they’d actually do something for anyone. That’s why we have government agencies and grants from Thrivent. You see, we outsource our good works (in contrast to Gal. 6:10 and Heb. 13:15-16) That’s the way of the American Church.

    “so quit presupposing every other Christian congregation sucks worse than yours.”

    What? All my caveats about generalizations suddenly forgotten? Don’t worry, I think most congregations (generally) suck equally. :) I am aware of exceptions, though, so please don’t put words in my mouth.

    “Whatever happened to putting the best construction on everything.”

    Yea, no doubt. You got snarky on me again. I suppose you’ll tell me it wasn’t snarky at all, and seven times seventy-seven times later I’ll still believe you. Still looks snarky to me.

    I want someone to justify, from the Scriptures, this notion that worship consists primarily of hearing and reflecting on what God has done for us through Christ: our task is to sit down and ‘shut up’ or else its human effort.

    As for me, I see no reason not to submit Romans 12 as a defining set of passages on ‘worship.’ I believe I already did. It has the overwhelming benefit of actually starting with a definitive statement on ‘worship.’

    It all starts “in view of God’s mercy” but it does not end there. Verse 1 is our ‘forgiveness of sins’ but merely hearing that does not constitute ‘worship.’ The worship is plainly describes as our offering of our bodies as living sacrifices and the verses after that describe how that looks.

    It has this other benefit: worship is not the hearing of the Gospel but the acting on it. It is right there in verses 1-2.

    Now it’s all your turn. Please inform me where ‘worship’ is ‘shutting up’ and receiving the means of grace, to the exclusion of service to one another.

    I don’t think it can be done and I’ll tell you why: there is no hint in the NT that ‘worship’ is ever confined to a single hour one day a week. ‘Worship’ is not an event in the life of the church. It was for the ancient Jew, who at the appointed times slaughtered an animal. Not anymore. So why do we call that service ‘worship.’

    Good night, Bryan. Feeling fine, by the way. Just peachy. :)

  • NotSurprised

    “If worship was about something I had to manufacture in my heart for it to be in spirit and truth,”

    The ‘spirit and truth’ branch is being held by SML.

    “why it is such a common misunderstanding of worship.”

    Precisely what the appropriate understanding of worship is one of the things in contention.

    “After all, if it is mostly about what I do, or how deeply I mean it, well then, who cares.”

    Sure, I agree. But this isn’t much different than “I would have no desire at all to go to church if I knew that I would not hear”

    You see, it’s still all about you. It’s just ‘you’ for different reasons with different emphases. For you it is about personally hearing the Gospel and receiving the sacraments. All about you.

    “The way of the cross is always hidden to the eyes.”

    Always?

    “The way of Glory always promises to tickle us right where we itch but fails to deliver.”

    In this context, fails to deliver what?

    “NotSurprised, where in the Bible does it support your view of New Testament Worship”

    This is exactly what I figured what would happen. After four, five, maybe six requests of my own to have your position defended from the Scriptures, I give one brief response and its back on me.

    If you can’t defend your views on worship from the Scriptures then you shouldn’t put them forward.

    “They easily had just as burdensome of sin problems around their love feasts as any Christian congregation today.”

    Eh? I was talking about what they did when they came together. The point of it was that they were chastised for their EXCESS. We’ve got the opposite going on.

    “And where does the Bible mandate that all of what you imagine the New Testament church was like has to happen only on Sunday morning?”

    Oh, I certainly don’t think that. The Sunday morning emphasis is an artifact of traditional understandings of ‘worship.’ I wouldn’t dream of confining it to just Sunday.

    “Your right in one sense, if there is no carry through or concern carried out through the rest of the week, there’s a problem.”

    And there is a problem.

    “I would change churches.”

    Why? They’re all structured roughly the same way. I think of both traditional and contemporary ‘style’ churches as fiber pills. Sure, you still get your fiber. Maybe the traditional style church is right that you need more vitamin A. Maybe the contemporary style church has a little too much filler. *shrug* You can get your fiber from a pill or you can get it by eating food. I think God likes the fact that we have to chew our food. The movement of the jaws is as important as the nutrients in the food. The communal aspect of the eating I think is important, too. In contrast, many churches are like pharmacies. Everything in a pill, nothing to chew. It is only about your own personal experience of the event. I prefer a steak and a beer to a pill and a glass of water. With friends, of course. :)

    Structurally speaking, this is how most churches are, so ‘changing churches’ is meaningless, and that’s why people are moving to smaller structures.

    “It doesn’t sound like you are complaining about your own congregation,”

    What makes you say that? You think if I knew someone in need I refer them to my congregation? Heavens, no. You think I would let them know I have needs? What would be the point? I’ve been to lots of churches in the area. They’re all the same: the people are very kind. Nice. Nice is the word I’m looking for. Very nice. But I have no expectations that they’d actually do something for anyone. That’s why we have government agencies and grants from Thrivent. You see, we outsource our good works (in contrast to Gal. 6:10 and Heb. 13:15-16) That’s the way of the American Church.

    “so quit presupposing every other Christian congregation sucks worse than yours.”

    What? All my caveats about generalizations suddenly forgotten? Don’t worry, I think most congregations (generally) suck equally. :) I am aware of exceptions, though, so please don’t put words in my mouth.

    “Whatever happened to putting the best construction on everything.”

    Yea, no doubt. You got snarky on me again. I suppose you’ll tell me it wasn’t snarky at all, and seven times seventy-seven times later I’ll still believe you. Still looks snarky to me.

    I want someone to justify, from the Scriptures, this notion that worship consists primarily of hearing and reflecting on what God has done for us through Christ: our task is to sit down and ‘shut up’ or else its human effort.

    As for me, I see no reason not to submit Romans 12 as a defining set of passages on ‘worship.’ I believe I already did. It has the overwhelming benefit of actually starting with a definitive statement on ‘worship.’

    It all starts “in view of God’s mercy” but it does not end there. Verse 1 is our ‘forgiveness of sins’ but merely hearing that does not constitute ‘worship.’ The worship is plainly describes as our offering of our bodies as living sacrifices and the verses after that describe how that looks.

    It has this other benefit: worship is not the hearing of the Gospel but the acting on it. It is right there in verses 1-2.

    Now it’s all your turn. Please inform me where ‘worship’ is ‘shutting up’ and receiving the means of grace, to the exclusion of service to one another.

    I don’t think it can be done and I’ll tell you why: there is no hint in the NT that ‘worship’ is ever confined to a single hour one day a week. ‘Worship’ is not an event in the life of the church. It was for the ancient Jew, who at the appointed times slaughtered an animal. Not anymore. So why do we call that service ‘worship.’

    Good night, Bryan. Feeling fine, by the way. Just peachy. :)

  • NotSurprised

    Something to point out here: pastors I don’t think appreciate the weight of these comments because, by virtue of the structure (of the service and polity in general) pastors are at the center of whatever really is happening, when it is happening at all.

    In our conversation about the car and the lady who needs one badly, I wondered how the lady would get in touch with the fellow who had one to lend or donate. Well, there is just one mediator between man and man in most congregations, and that is the pastor. If they get together it will be because the lady decides to talk to the pastor about it and the pastor fortunately is aware (or keeps his ears open for) of an available car.

    So, I reckon a pastor of 2,000 members probably witnesses a lot of serving and charity, since he’s the primary facilitator of it all. And of course when this happens its out of sight during the week during business hours at the church when there is nary another soul around.

    Similarly, a pastor will generally feel like the service was participatory, as will the organist and music leaders. The rest of us chaps in the pew don’t think stand sit stand sing stand sit kneel stand chant sit stand recite sit is particularly noble participation. Likewise, whatever is said about the good things the church actually does, your average layperson- and the visiting nonbeliever- will probably never know about them at all.

    I think this hampers conversations like this one, which has devolved into a conversation between a layperson (myself) and a pastor, and not just a pastor, but one seemingly of a healthy church.

  • NotSurprised

    Something to point out here: pastors I don’t think appreciate the weight of these comments because, by virtue of the structure (of the service and polity in general) pastors are at the center of whatever really is happening, when it is happening at all.

    In our conversation about the car and the lady who needs one badly, I wondered how the lady would get in touch with the fellow who had one to lend or donate. Well, there is just one mediator between man and man in most congregations, and that is the pastor. If they get together it will be because the lady decides to talk to the pastor about it and the pastor fortunately is aware (or keeps his ears open for) of an available car.

    So, I reckon a pastor of 2,000 members probably witnesses a lot of serving and charity, since he’s the primary facilitator of it all. And of course when this happens its out of sight during the week during business hours at the church when there is nary another soul around.

    Similarly, a pastor will generally feel like the service was participatory, as will the organist and music leaders. The rest of us chaps in the pew don’t think stand sit stand sing stand sit kneel stand chant sit stand recite sit is particularly noble participation. Likewise, whatever is said about the good things the church actually does, your average layperson- and the visiting nonbeliever- will probably never know about them at all.

    I think this hampers conversations like this one, which has devolved into a conversation between a layperson (myself) and a pastor, and not just a pastor, but one seemingly of a healthy church.

  • sml

    “notsurprised,” you beat me to a lot of what crossed my mind.

    Bryan. I believe that you are a pastor who loves his flock and is striving to do God’s will–and achieving it on a regular basis, even! I don’t want what I’m going to say to be misread as attacking or as though I do not hold you personally, and the work you do that the Lord has prepared in advance for you, in high regard. And I am very glad that your community is alive in Christ. My church community is not dead, either. There are people who are willing and do treat their brethren with love. But some of my criticism is held out for my own church also. I referenced the great divide between those who know and are known and those who come and flee after service. My criticism of the divine service (and contemporary ones) is exactly the same.

    Before you defend the divine service again, I have a pointed question for you.

    *Do you believe that the only proper worship is through the divine service?

    ****

    You mentioned my reference to “in spirit and in truth” and concern over whether or not it requires any efforts on our part. I am only concerned with what the Lord tells us in His word.

    *What is your [i]biblical[/i] definition of worship?

    Does it include or exclude Romans 12 and John 4(both of which I referenced earlier)? Does it include or exclude the clear teaching in I Corinthians that worship included the material participation of the congregating members–they were not admonished for the material participations, but for allowing them to become confusing and disorderly and for forgetting to show regard for their brethren at the proper times?

    What does Romans 12 say about whether or not true worship involves interaction between brethren–more than responsive reading/song/prayer, I mean?

    ****

    Is it not possible that worship is also one of those good works prepared in advance for us to do? (Indeed, even faith, though it is a gift, is counted to us as a good work. As such we understand that it is not our faith which saves us, but God’s grace; the strength or weakness of our faith is not ultimately important to our salvation. Its presence is the vehicle of God’s designation for the outflowing of His grace. And the weight of His grace on us is shown true by the springing forth of fruit.)

    ****

    Why is it so fearful to admit that God actually has good works for us to do? No one here is confusing them with salvation. Why is it so onerous to admit that God grafted us in with the purpose also of bringing good fruits out of us?

    ****

    “And where does the Bible mandate that all of what you imagine the New Testament church was like has to happen only on Sunday morning?”

    Of course it doesn’t. However, the fact of the matter is that the “worship” service is when the vast majority of the members of the congregation gather. They do not see each other during the week. Their jobs do not overlap. Their neighborhoods do not overlap. For many of them–even most!!–it is the only time they are gathering! If the “worship” does not include aspects that God shows are His desire for the body during worship throughout the NT (I Corinthians, John, Romans, I John), they will never receive them. We can blame them for being lazy Christians all we like, but the fact remains that the onus is on the strong to raise up the weak and not the other way around. Are we not encouraged to carry our brothers’ burdens to fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6)? And what is His law, His command (I John among others)? To love our brothers. I submit that to remain willfully blind to this is [i]hateful[/i] to the bride of Christ. I submit that it is sin. Do we not see our brothers in need of what is spoken of as being a part of worship and find ourselves [i]not[/i], by and large, responding? If the vast majority of our brothers were meeting with us in other circumstances, we would have the luxury of spreading out our worship. We do not have that luxury in our godless, shelve-it-till-Sunday (or Saturday) culture. Why do we pretend we still do?

    My posts are not for the purpose of tearing down the church. I am exhorting, rather, the church to respond with compassion for its own body. Evaluate your church. Do you have a community that is fairly closed, so that your family of believers are interacting throughout the week and almost no one is isolated from the body? Good, continue with your contemporary and divine worships. The worshiping is happening all through the week and the body isn’t cutting off pieces. Do you have a community that is open, where the believers live at a distance from the church and see each other only when they come to the “worship” service and, furthermore, only a scant minority attend other functions and those other functions are the only opportunity for them to learn about each other and each others needs and place within the body? Then the divine and contemporary services don’t cut it because important aspects of worship laid out by God in His word are [i]not[/i] being made available for the building up of His bride. Evaluate your church’s situation with open hearts and honest eyes. Which is the case?

  • sml

    “notsurprised,” you beat me to a lot of what crossed my mind.

    Bryan. I believe that you are a pastor who loves his flock and is striving to do God’s will–and achieving it on a regular basis, even! I don’t want what I’m going to say to be misread as attacking or as though I do not hold you personally, and the work you do that the Lord has prepared in advance for you, in high regard. And I am very glad that your community is alive in Christ. My church community is not dead, either. There are people who are willing and do treat their brethren with love. But some of my criticism is held out for my own church also. I referenced the great divide between those who know and are known and those who come and flee after service. My criticism of the divine service (and contemporary ones) is exactly the same.

    Before you defend the divine service again, I have a pointed question for you.

    *Do you believe that the only proper worship is through the divine service?

    ****

    You mentioned my reference to “in spirit and in truth” and concern over whether or not it requires any efforts on our part. I am only concerned with what the Lord tells us in His word.

    *What is your [i]biblical[/i] definition of worship?

    Does it include or exclude Romans 12 and John 4(both of which I referenced earlier)? Does it include or exclude the clear teaching in I Corinthians that worship included the material participation of the congregating members–they were not admonished for the material participations, but for allowing them to become confusing and disorderly and for forgetting to show regard for their brethren at the proper times?

    What does Romans 12 say about whether or not true worship involves interaction between brethren–more than responsive reading/song/prayer, I mean?

    ****

    Is it not possible that worship is also one of those good works prepared in advance for us to do? (Indeed, even faith, though it is a gift, is counted to us as a good work. As such we understand that it is not our faith which saves us, but God’s grace; the strength or weakness of our faith is not ultimately important to our salvation. Its presence is the vehicle of God’s designation for the outflowing of His grace. And the weight of His grace on us is shown true by the springing forth of fruit.)

    ****

    Why is it so fearful to admit that God actually has good works for us to do? No one here is confusing them with salvation. Why is it so onerous to admit that God grafted us in with the purpose also of bringing good fruits out of us?

    ****

    “And where does the Bible mandate that all of what you imagine the New Testament church was like has to happen only on Sunday morning?”

    Of course it doesn’t. However, the fact of the matter is that the “worship” service is when the vast majority of the members of the congregation gather. They do not see each other during the week. Their jobs do not overlap. Their neighborhoods do not overlap. For many of them–even most!!–it is the only time they are gathering! If the “worship” does not include aspects that God shows are His desire for the body during worship throughout the NT (I Corinthians, John, Romans, I John), they will never receive them. We can blame them for being lazy Christians all we like, but the fact remains that the onus is on the strong to raise up the weak and not the other way around. Are we not encouraged to carry our brothers’ burdens to fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6)? And what is His law, His command (I John among others)? To love our brothers. I submit that to remain willfully blind to this is [i]hateful[/i] to the bride of Christ. I submit that it is sin. Do we not see our brothers in need of what is spoken of as being a part of worship and find ourselves [i]not[/i], by and large, responding? If the vast majority of our brothers were meeting with us in other circumstances, we would have the luxury of spreading out our worship. We do not have that luxury in our godless, shelve-it-till-Sunday (or Saturday) culture. Why do we pretend we still do?

    My posts are not for the purpose of tearing down the church. I am exhorting, rather, the church to respond with compassion for its own body. Evaluate your church. Do you have a community that is fairly closed, so that your family of believers are interacting throughout the week and almost no one is isolated from the body? Good, continue with your contemporary and divine worships. The worshiping is happening all through the week and the body isn’t cutting off pieces. Do you have a community that is open, where the believers live at a distance from the church and see each other only when they come to the “worship” service and, furthermore, only a scant minority attend other functions and those other functions are the only opportunity for them to learn about each other and each others needs and place within the body? Then the divine and contemporary services don’t cut it because important aspects of worship laid out by God in His word are [i]not[/i] being made available for the building up of His bride. Evaluate your church’s situation with open hearts and honest eyes. Which is the case?

  • The Jones

    What I meant by my comment is that it is possible to be connected to other believers in a church, even when the church is too big to know “everybody.” The way my church does it is small groups, dozens of groups meeting in people’s homes as well as everybody meeting all together on Sunday. Even if you only really “know” about a tenth of your large church, those few deep friendships can minister through service and individual support. And staying in a church keeps you grounded under a pastoral leadership which is consistent throughout scripture.

    My point about Martin Luther was not that his reformation solved the problem we are seeing today of disconnected people in churches. It was this: even though the corruption and bad teaching problems which he faced were virtually in EVERY church, he still did not abandon meeting together, encouraging one another, and being trained in the word by able teachers. And he basically did it with constant resistance and a price on his head.
    So, if Luther did that, I think we can address isolated spiritual withering within big churches without just throwing out the idea of “meeting together.” And I don’t see meeting together as a family as sufficient for the kind of growth that the Church should provide. For instance: 1 Timothy says that one of the requirements for a teacher of the law is that he has his family in order. Do we really think that it is okay for a father to say, “My family is in enough order to pass this requirement.” Is that kind of self audit the kind of accountability we want in the church? Isn’t there something to a group, larger and more diversely equipped than just a family, encouraging, teaching, admonishing, and correcting one another? Do we really think that the internet is going to smooth over these difficulties?
    That’s why I think home churches as a replacement for church is a load of bull. Home churches should be a sort of lifeboat. They are not a cruise-ship sufficient for the journey.

  • The Jones

    What I meant by my comment is that it is possible to be connected to other believers in a church, even when the church is too big to know “everybody.” The way my church does it is small groups, dozens of groups meeting in people’s homes as well as everybody meeting all together on Sunday. Even if you only really “know” about a tenth of your large church, those few deep friendships can minister through service and individual support. And staying in a church keeps you grounded under a pastoral leadership which is consistent throughout scripture.

    My point about Martin Luther was not that his reformation solved the problem we are seeing today of disconnected people in churches. It was this: even though the corruption and bad teaching problems which he faced were virtually in EVERY church, he still did not abandon meeting together, encouraging one another, and being trained in the word by able teachers. And he basically did it with constant resistance and a price on his head.
    So, if Luther did that, I think we can address isolated spiritual withering within big churches without just throwing out the idea of “meeting together.” And I don’t see meeting together as a family as sufficient for the kind of growth that the Church should provide. For instance: 1 Timothy says that one of the requirements for a teacher of the law is that he has his family in order. Do we really think that it is okay for a father to say, “My family is in enough order to pass this requirement.” Is that kind of self audit the kind of accountability we want in the church? Isn’t there something to a group, larger and more diversely equipped than just a family, encouraging, teaching, admonishing, and correcting one another? Do we really think that the internet is going to smooth over these difficulties?
    That’s why I think home churches as a replacement for church is a load of bull. Home churches should be a sort of lifeboat. They are not a cruise-ship sufficient for the journey.

  • sml

    The Jones
    I appreciate your thoughtful words. I agree that home churches are more of a lifeboat scenario.

    That is why I have been laying out my exhortation. Instead of pummeling people for being repulsed by worship they see as disconnected and solitary, we should be recognizing that how we currently go about things is not the only way allowed by scripture.

  • sml

    The Jones
    I appreciate your thoughtful words. I agree that home churches are more of a lifeboat scenario.

    That is why I have been laying out my exhortation. Instead of pummeling people for being repulsed by worship they see as disconnected and solitary, we should be recognizing that how we currently go about things is not the only way allowed by scripture.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Those who are regularly connected to the Vine through the means of grace, through the Word being preached and the sacraments administered are alive in Christ. Like I was trying to say before, its like they breath in the gifts of God, they are radically receptive (responding in praise of course) as in the Divine Service. And then, yes, they leave the church having been forgiven and filled with God’s presence. But those who are wise realize that this is just the beginning of worship. Worship continues as each goes home and drives or walks carefully for themselves and for everyone else’s good and safety in praise to the creator who has been so good to us. Worship continues for me (and for others similarly) as I take out the trash for my family, perhaps without being asked this time. Worship continues as I perhaps barbeque for my family and neighbor, giving thanks for our daily bread and a Lutheran beverage of praise. Worship continues as I try to do my job well and serve those around me with honesty, kindness, and respect. Worship continues as I am in Word and prayer each day, I find I need that to combat the devil’s wiles against me and as I struggle to really serve my family and neighbors. And before you know it. Its time for Sunday again. Have I interracted with every person in the body of Christ in my local congregation? Quite a few usually, but also usually not all by any stretch. Have I made some mistakes along the way? Are there things we should and shouldn’t have done? Sure, and this is true for the whole body of Christ. Is my work with and away from my congregation always making it more healthy, probably not. But that’s where I gather together with the rest of my brothers and sisters again on the eighth day to sit at the feet of Jesus again and receive His healing balm for another week of life in Him, life under the cross. Every week it is different. Every week the challenges to the body of Christ may grow more difficult. But Christ is there, in each member of the body doing His hidden work. This is how I view New Testament Worship and life connected to Christ through the Divine Service.

    sml, you asked, “Do you believe that the only proper worship is through the divine service?” Well yes and no. As I am trying to illustrate above, the whole Christian life is worship. A remembrance of God’s Work in Baptism, and a receiving of His gifts through the Divine Service and meditation on His Word and a life of praise in service to one’s neighbor. I believe whole-heartedly that this view of Worship jives really well with Jesus’ teaching and the rest of the New Testament. I believe it, which is why I teach it and keep going back to the cross for forgiveness – because that is the only thing that can help me love and forgive anybody else (or put another way, bear one another’s burdens). I do believe that the Divine Service, where Christ’s body and blood are truly given in the distribution of the bread and the wine is the only way to experience God’s true Koinonia or Christian fellowship this side of heaven. And that this fellowship centered in Christ’s Supper is the only path to perfect fellowship with the brother and sister (but even this is believed and not yet fully experienced – it being a foretaste of the feast to come).

    I hope this post clarifies some of my thoughts on Lutheran Worship for you and for NotSurprised. Have a blessed day in Christ.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Those who are regularly connected to the Vine through the means of grace, through the Word being preached and the sacraments administered are alive in Christ. Like I was trying to say before, its like they breath in the gifts of God, they are radically receptive (responding in praise of course) as in the Divine Service. And then, yes, they leave the church having been forgiven and filled with God’s presence. But those who are wise realize that this is just the beginning of worship. Worship continues as each goes home and drives or walks carefully for themselves and for everyone else’s good and safety in praise to the creator who has been so good to us. Worship continues for me (and for others similarly) as I take out the trash for my family, perhaps without being asked this time. Worship continues as I perhaps barbeque for my family and neighbor, giving thanks for our daily bread and a Lutheran beverage of praise. Worship continues as I try to do my job well and serve those around me with honesty, kindness, and respect. Worship continues as I am in Word and prayer each day, I find I need that to combat the devil’s wiles against me and as I struggle to really serve my family and neighbors. And before you know it. Its time for Sunday again. Have I interracted with every person in the body of Christ in my local congregation? Quite a few usually, but also usually not all by any stretch. Have I made some mistakes along the way? Are there things we should and shouldn’t have done? Sure, and this is true for the whole body of Christ. Is my work with and away from my congregation always making it more healthy, probably not. But that’s where I gather together with the rest of my brothers and sisters again on the eighth day to sit at the feet of Jesus again and receive His healing balm for another week of life in Him, life under the cross. Every week it is different. Every week the challenges to the body of Christ may grow more difficult. But Christ is there, in each member of the body doing His hidden work. This is how I view New Testament Worship and life connected to Christ through the Divine Service.

    sml, you asked, “Do you believe that the only proper worship is through the divine service?” Well yes and no. As I am trying to illustrate above, the whole Christian life is worship. A remembrance of God’s Work in Baptism, and a receiving of His gifts through the Divine Service and meditation on His Word and a life of praise in service to one’s neighbor. I believe whole-heartedly that this view of Worship jives really well with Jesus’ teaching and the rest of the New Testament. I believe it, which is why I teach it and keep going back to the cross for forgiveness – because that is the only thing that can help me love and forgive anybody else (or put another way, bear one another’s burdens). I do believe that the Divine Service, where Christ’s body and blood are truly given in the distribution of the bread and the wine is the only way to experience God’s true Koinonia or Christian fellowship this side of heaven. And that this fellowship centered in Christ’s Supper is the only path to perfect fellowship with the brother and sister (but even this is believed and not yet fully experienced – it being a foretaste of the feast to come).

    I hope this post clarifies some of my thoughts on Lutheran Worship for you and for NotSurprised. Have a blessed day in Christ.

  • sml

    Again, I am gladdened by your presence in the body of Christ, because you do see that worship is not a time period, but a way of life. Surely, as a pastor you both model and exhort your flock to this.

    “I do believe that the Divine Service, where Christ’s body and blood are truly given in the distribution of the bread and the wine is the only way to experience God’s true Koinonia or Christian fellowship this side of heaven.”

    Do you believe that the Divine Service, as we practice it today, is exactly how it was practiced as laid out in each of the epistles which speak of gathering together to partake of the body and blood and worshiping (do you think they are all describing exactly the same worship format?)? I agree with you fully on the absolute importance of the receiving of Christ’s body and blood among the brethren and God’s work in us through it. I wish we did so every worship service. I’m not disputing that.

  • sml

    Again, I am gladdened by your presence in the body of Christ, because you do see that worship is not a time period, but a way of life. Surely, as a pastor you both model and exhort your flock to this.

    “I do believe that the Divine Service, where Christ’s body and blood are truly given in the distribution of the bread and the wine is the only way to experience God’s true Koinonia or Christian fellowship this side of heaven.”

    Do you believe that the Divine Service, as we practice it today, is exactly how it was practiced as laid out in each of the epistles which speak of gathering together to partake of the body and blood and worshiping (do you think they are all describing exactly the same worship format?)? I agree with you fully on the absolute importance of the receiving of Christ’s body and blood among the brethren and God’s work in us through it. I wish we did so every worship service. I’m not disputing that.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Clarification on my statement, “The Divine Service is our time to shut up, be quiet and listen. It’s God coming to us.”

    I was trying to describe my own instructions to myself. After spending too many years in evangelical and fundamentalist churches where people were very busy outwardly worshipping God – speaking in “tongues”, waving arms, speaking out, singing proudly, etc – the Divine Service has been not only a breath of fresh air but a dose of biblical confidence in what is being done in the service. Of course I don’t just sit there and absorb! What I was try to explain is how the Divine Service is a change in perspective – God is God and I am the recipient. And it’s not something new…it is ancient and original. Oh, and I love the reminder that all of life is worship! I certainly try to practice that concept and teach that to my children.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Clarification on my statement, “The Divine Service is our time to shut up, be quiet and listen. It’s God coming to us.”

    I was trying to describe my own instructions to myself. After spending too many years in evangelical and fundamentalist churches where people were very busy outwardly worshipping God – speaking in “tongues”, waving arms, speaking out, singing proudly, etc – the Divine Service has been not only a breath of fresh air but a dose of biblical confidence in what is being done in the service. Of course I don’t just sit there and absorb! What I was try to explain is how the Divine Service is a change in perspective – God is God and I am the recipient. And it’s not something new…it is ancient and original. Oh, and I love the reminder that all of life is worship! I certainly try to practice that concept and teach that to my children.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    sml asks, “Do you believe that the Divine Service, as we practice it today, is exactly how it was practiced as laid out in each of the epistles which speak of gathering together to partake of the body and blood and worshiping (do you think they are all describing exactly the same worship format?)?”

    This is a good question, but I wonder what you want to do with an answer? I have my own preferences toward the modern day versions of the Divine Service to be sure. I don’t prefer every version I have ever been a part of, but I never disputed the Work of God in one of them (We currently have 5 “Bible-full” versions to choose from in our churches latest hymnal) nor refused to be part of one which was the Divine Service celebrated by Christians I am in altar and pulpit fellowship with. As far as what I have learned the liturgies of the Divine Service we have been given today are in conformity with what we can gather about early Christian worship. What we have is filled with God’s Word and built upon the teaching and wisdom of those Christians who have gone before us (who I’m always reminding myself may very well have been more wise and more learned than me). I personally think it is a bit prideful for us to think we can do better than they or get closer to some New Testament form we may want to set up. Unfortunately or fortunately, I don’t see a New Testament order for the Divine Service, but I can look back and see how all we got about Worship from the Old and New Testaments descriptions of Worship to what we have now as the Divine Service. The more I am in the Divine Service, and am growing in the Word, the more I see connections to all the teachings of the Bible and to Christ connecting Himself to me.

    I guess I just love how Biblical they are and know that I would have to work many lifetimes to come up with anything better. Perhaps you have more confidence in our Christian abilities today. I, frankly, don’t.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    sml asks, “Do you believe that the Divine Service, as we practice it today, is exactly how it was practiced as laid out in each of the epistles which speak of gathering together to partake of the body and blood and worshiping (do you think they are all describing exactly the same worship format?)?”

    This is a good question, but I wonder what you want to do with an answer? I have my own preferences toward the modern day versions of the Divine Service to be sure. I don’t prefer every version I have ever been a part of, but I never disputed the Work of God in one of them (We currently have 5 “Bible-full” versions to choose from in our churches latest hymnal) nor refused to be part of one which was the Divine Service celebrated by Christians I am in altar and pulpit fellowship with. As far as what I have learned the liturgies of the Divine Service we have been given today are in conformity with what we can gather about early Christian worship. What we have is filled with God’s Word and built upon the teaching and wisdom of those Christians who have gone before us (who I’m always reminding myself may very well have been more wise and more learned than me). I personally think it is a bit prideful for us to think we can do better than they or get closer to some New Testament form we may want to set up. Unfortunately or fortunately, I don’t see a New Testament order for the Divine Service, but I can look back and see how all we got about Worship from the Old and New Testaments descriptions of Worship to what we have now as the Divine Service. The more I am in the Divine Service, and am growing in the Word, the more I see connections to all the teachings of the Bible and to Christ connecting Himself to me.

    I guess I just love how Biblical they are and know that I would have to work many lifetimes to come up with anything better. Perhaps you have more confidence in our Christian abilities today. I, frankly, don’t.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Oh, by the way, it should be said, I’ve also sworn to uphold what the Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord, 1580, have taught about Worship. This is super important for Lutherans (or I think it should be). Learning from those good folks has also been very formative in my beliefs about worship.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Oh, by the way, it should be said, I’ve also sworn to uphold what the Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord, 1580, have taught about Worship. This is super important for Lutherans (or I think it should be). Learning from those good folks has also been very formative in my beliefs about worship.

  • http://ballpointblog.blogspot.com Fred

    Some Christians are sensing that churches have grown too large and have become too detached from the communities they serve, but not all. Americans want their convenience and detachment and faith served up in “drive thru” style. Walmart/Starbucks + American religion = megachurch.

    Add to this the weakening of pulpit conviction and an uwillingness to offend sinners and the effect is the reductionist, “three points and a poem” preaching heard far too often nowadays. More than a few churches are detached from the sacred and the holy. There’s little gravity in the faces and countenances of our pastorate and staff.

    People figure if this is what goes for Christianity – maybe we oughta give it a try at our homes.

  • http://ballpointblog.blogspot.com Fred

    Some Christians are sensing that churches have grown too large and have become too detached from the communities they serve, but not all. Americans want their convenience and detachment and faith served up in “drive thru” style. Walmart/Starbucks + American religion = megachurch.

    Add to this the weakening of pulpit conviction and an uwillingness to offend sinners and the effect is the reductionist, “three points and a poem” preaching heard far too often nowadays. More than a few churches are detached from the sacred and the holy. There’s little gravity in the faces and countenances of our pastorate and staff.

    People figure if this is what goes for Christianity – maybe we oughta give it a try at our homes.

  • Anon

    The form of worship which we have came from the Temple and the Synagogue. The Liturgy of the Eucharist was added to the Liturgy of the Word when the Christians were kicked out of the synagogues. The liturgy has always been as it is, with minor variations. The oldest is probably the Liturgy of St. James, or the Liturgy of Mari and Addai, both coming from the Apostles. That is how they understood our Lord’s teachings. Our Divine Service is somewhat stripped down – especially in the new Service Book (alas), but that is where it comes from. It wasn’t invented in Rome, it came from Moses through the Apostles. We are surrounded by a mighty cloud of witnesses, do you wish to be out of step with them when we, as John, worship on the Lord’s Day? (see Revelation)

    sml, your argument rather is an argument for what Lars has referred to as “no such thing as too many, or too small of Lutheran churches” in his novel _Wolf Time_. Your argument is for small, local parish congregations rather than the megachurch model.

    NotSurprised, if you wish to know how they worship in heaven, read Revelation. Is it more like the Old Order Amish, or more like smells and bells?

    I suppose that to some extent, it is technically adiaphora (though not entirely, there are elements which must be present), but are we really all of a sudden more knowledgeable and wise that we can dismiss the worship of the last 35 centuries of God’s people and go off on our own? Mightn’t we listen to the ‘democracy of the dead’?

  • Anon

    The form of worship which we have came from the Temple and the Synagogue. The Liturgy of the Eucharist was added to the Liturgy of the Word when the Christians were kicked out of the synagogues. The liturgy has always been as it is, with minor variations. The oldest is probably the Liturgy of St. James, or the Liturgy of Mari and Addai, both coming from the Apostles. That is how they understood our Lord’s teachings. Our Divine Service is somewhat stripped down – especially in the new Service Book (alas), but that is where it comes from. It wasn’t invented in Rome, it came from Moses through the Apostles. We are surrounded by a mighty cloud of witnesses, do you wish to be out of step with them when we, as John, worship on the Lord’s Day? (see Revelation)

    sml, your argument rather is an argument for what Lars has referred to as “no such thing as too many, or too small of Lutheran churches” in his novel _Wolf Time_. Your argument is for small, local parish congregations rather than the megachurch model.

    NotSurprised, if you wish to know how they worship in heaven, read Revelation. Is it more like the Old Order Amish, or more like smells and bells?

    I suppose that to some extent, it is technically adiaphora (though not entirely, there are elements which must be present), but are we really all of a sudden more knowledgeable and wise that we can dismiss the worship of the last 35 centuries of God’s people and go off on our own? Mightn’t we listen to the ‘democracy of the dead’?

  • Joe

    The thread is obviously to long ot respond to everything, but there are themes – I think. As I am understanding correctly, sml and NotSurprised are dissatisfied with the DS (and most services today) because they are not participatory enough. I tried to draw a distinction between the Divine Service and generally being in fellowship with the other members. I really think that this distinction is important and the key to satisfying the dissatisfaction sml and NotSurprised expressed.

    The Divine Service (not in form but in substance) is necessary because we need to receive the Grace of God through his Means. Have to have it; it is our lifeblood. We all agree on that right? Our participation in the Divine Service is our response and plea. Is part of our response, how we love our neighbors? Of course. I believe that this is best and most effectively done outside of the confines of the Divine Service. 1. It allows the DS to remain the time of our interaction with our living Lord and 2. I don’t think it is logistically possible to actually start hammering out the individual needs our each person in the pew – in fact many people would not state their needs because of the pressure of the moment or the public speaking involved.

    I think true Christian Fellowship offers this – NotSurprised stated earlier that people don’t actually do this and asked “now what?”. I am sorry if your local congregation doesn’t, thankfully mine does (for the most part, obviously needs go unmet at times. But on the whole, my congregation is very close and truly is like a large family. I have the pleasure of seeing this as an Elder.) But I don’t think changing the nature of the Sunday morning service will change this either. If people are not involved enough to engaging to real Christian Fellowship at a time outside of the DS why do you think they would do so during it? Also, I reject the notion that we only get Sunday morning. There is no reason that you cannot be together more often. Just because your not in the sanctuary does not mean that your actions are not part of your response to God’s Grace.

    There has been some question re: where is the Divine Service commanded. It is not commanded, but I think it does a pretty good job of following Acts 2:42 et seq. We have the Word of God (aka the Apostle’s Teaching), Prayer, the Lords Supper (aka the breaking of bread). We have “many miraculous signs [] done by the Apostles” (substitute pastor for Apostle and baptism, confession and absolution, the Sacrament of the Alter are miracles). We are all together and we have everything in common (in a different way). As a response and in thanks, we tithe to support the Church and her efforts. We don’t need to sell everything because we don’t depend on the local congregation for food, clothes, shelter (in most cases).

    I also see a distinction, or rather a two fold approach, that mirrors what I was trying to say. They met in Temple Courts and in each other’s homes. This is what I meant by DS and Christian Fellowship as separate but connected. I find further support for this view in the appointment of Stephen, etc. to handle the physical and administrative needs of the congregation so that the Apostles could focus on the teaching the word. Again, DS and Christian Fellowship.

    Historically, we know that when the local congregation of saints would gather there would be general airing of grievance and discussion of the needs of the members, a time of prayer and then everyone who was not baptized was asked to leave and they celebrated the Lord’s Supper, ie. service of the sacrament in a form that is pretty near the DS we have today. (I have no citation for this but my Pastor explained this to us in a Bible study).

    I see Romans 12 as the definition of what I mean when I say Christina Fellowship. As far as Corinthians 12:26 et seq., I must confess that I am not able to understand what this means today. I have never met a profit or anyone that can speak in tongue and interpret it. It is clear that the thrust of this passage is that God is a God of order and that the main aim of the prophecy and the tongue speaking is to disseminate the Word to the congregation. Remembering that there was no New Testament in written form at that time, this is how they would have had the Word (by divine inspiration or by the letters from the Apostles). I don’t discount that there could be a profit today. If there was one we should hear him and judge what he says as these verses say. But I don’t see how it supports tossing out the DS.

    Anyway those are the my thoughts about this topic. It is not intended to answer every question, but NotSurprised (a couple of times) had asked for scriptural support for the DS, so I wanted to provide what I think is the basis.

  • Joe

    The thread is obviously to long ot respond to everything, but there are themes – I think. As I am understanding correctly, sml and NotSurprised are dissatisfied with the DS (and most services today) because they are not participatory enough. I tried to draw a distinction between the Divine Service and generally being in fellowship with the other members. I really think that this distinction is important and the key to satisfying the dissatisfaction sml and NotSurprised expressed.

    The Divine Service (not in form but in substance) is necessary because we need to receive the Grace of God through his Means. Have to have it; it is our lifeblood. We all agree on that right? Our participation in the Divine Service is our response and plea. Is part of our response, how we love our neighbors? Of course. I believe that this is best and most effectively done outside of the confines of the Divine Service. 1. It allows the DS to remain the time of our interaction with our living Lord and 2. I don’t think it is logistically possible to actually start hammering out the individual needs our each person in the pew – in fact many people would not state their needs because of the pressure of the moment or the public speaking involved.

    I think true Christian Fellowship offers this – NotSurprised stated earlier that people don’t actually do this and asked “now what?”. I am sorry if your local congregation doesn’t, thankfully mine does (for the most part, obviously needs go unmet at times. But on the whole, my congregation is very close and truly is like a large family. I have the pleasure of seeing this as an Elder.) But I don’t think changing the nature of the Sunday morning service will change this either. If people are not involved enough to engaging to real Christian Fellowship at a time outside of the DS why do you think they would do so during it? Also, I reject the notion that we only get Sunday morning. There is no reason that you cannot be together more often. Just because your not in the sanctuary does not mean that your actions are not part of your response to God’s Grace.

    There has been some question re: where is the Divine Service commanded. It is not commanded, but I think it does a pretty good job of following Acts 2:42 et seq. We have the Word of God (aka the Apostle’s Teaching), Prayer, the Lords Supper (aka the breaking of bread). We have “many miraculous signs [] done by the Apostles” (substitute pastor for Apostle and baptism, confession and absolution, the Sacrament of the Alter are miracles). We are all together and we have everything in common (in a different way). As a response and in thanks, we tithe to support the Church and her efforts. We don’t need to sell everything because we don’t depend on the local congregation for food, clothes, shelter (in most cases).

    I also see a distinction, or rather a two fold approach, that mirrors what I was trying to say. They met in Temple Courts and in each other’s homes. This is what I meant by DS and Christian Fellowship as separate but connected. I find further support for this view in the appointment of Stephen, etc. to handle the physical and administrative needs of the congregation so that the Apostles could focus on the teaching the word. Again, DS and Christian Fellowship.

    Historically, we know that when the local congregation of saints would gather there would be general airing of grievance and discussion of the needs of the members, a time of prayer and then everyone who was not baptized was asked to leave and they celebrated the Lord’s Supper, ie. service of the sacrament in a form that is pretty near the DS we have today. (I have no citation for this but my Pastor explained this to us in a Bible study).

    I see Romans 12 as the definition of what I mean when I say Christina Fellowship. As far as Corinthians 12:26 et seq., I must confess that I am not able to understand what this means today. I have never met a profit or anyone that can speak in tongue and interpret it. It is clear that the thrust of this passage is that God is a God of order and that the main aim of the prophecy and the tongue speaking is to disseminate the Word to the congregation. Remembering that there was no New Testament in written form at that time, this is how they would have had the Word (by divine inspiration or by the letters from the Apostles). I don’t discount that there could be a profit today. If there was one we should hear him and judge what he says as these verses say. But I don’t see how it supports tossing out the DS.

    Anyway those are the my thoughts about this topic. It is not intended to answer every question, but NotSurprised (a couple of times) had asked for scriptural support for the DS, so I wanted to provide what I think is the basis.

  • sml

    I’m not sure anyone has noticed, but I haven’t advocated a wholesale chucking of the divine service. I also haven’t spent a great deal of time talking about how this or that part of it is unnecessary and should be excluded.

    I do absolutely advocate that the gathering together for worship as represented in the New Testament has not only a vertical aspect, but also a tangible horizontal aspect. This horizontal aspect went much further than worshiping vertically while side by side. Joe, your contribution is helpful to show my point. In the early church, this horizontal aspect was not neglected. In today’s church, we have all but eliminated it. I don’t advocate subtracting from the divine service, but adding to it–perhaps it would be best stated as restoring it.

  • sml

    I’m not sure anyone has noticed, but I haven’t advocated a wholesale chucking of the divine service. I also haven’t spent a great deal of time talking about how this or that part of it is unnecessary and should be excluded.

    I do absolutely advocate that the gathering together for worship as represented in the New Testament has not only a vertical aspect, but also a tangible horizontal aspect. This horizontal aspect went much further than worshiping vertically while side by side. Joe, your contribution is helpful to show my point. In the early church, this horizontal aspect was not neglected. In today’s church, we have all but eliminated it. I don’t advocate subtracting from the divine service, but adding to it–perhaps it would be best stated as restoring it.

  • sml

    “I personally think it is a bit prideful for us to think we can do better than they or get closer to some New Testament form we may want to set up.”

    But what if it is true? Is it arrogant to look at the scripture, see that there was a marked horizontal aspect to worship, and want that restored? If we see that some teaching is not in keeping with the word itself, is it truly arrogant to restore it even if it has a thousand or more years behind it? Luther believed that Mary was the eternal virgin. I see scriptural support for that being false. Luther had a long tradition of the church to rest on. I have scripture. Is it arrogant for me to disagree with Luther because of his long history and superior Greek, Latin, and Hebrew skills?

    Does I John advocate that we should defer our judgment based on the teachings of scripture to the position of authority held by others? Is it arrogance, or is it demanded of the sheep by God?

  • sml

    “I personally think it is a bit prideful for us to think we can do better than they or get closer to some New Testament form we may want to set up.”

    But what if it is true? Is it arrogant to look at the scripture, see that there was a marked horizontal aspect to worship, and want that restored? If we see that some teaching is not in keeping with the word itself, is it truly arrogant to restore it even if it has a thousand or more years behind it? Luther believed that Mary was the eternal virgin. I see scriptural support for that being false. Luther had a long tradition of the church to rest on. I have scripture. Is it arrogant for me to disagree with Luther because of his long history and superior Greek, Latin, and Hebrew skills?

    Does I John advocate that we should defer our judgment based on the teachings of scripture to the position of authority held by others? Is it arrogance, or is it demanded of the sheep by God?

  • sml

    “Is it arrogance, or is it demanded of the sheep by God?”

    This was not a clear sentence. I mean, “Is it arrogance to study the scriptures and measure our teachings and practices by them, or is it actually God’s demand for His sheep to do just that?”

  • sml

    “Is it arrogance, or is it demanded of the sheep by God?”

    This was not a clear sentence. I mean, “Is it arrogance to study the scriptures and measure our teachings and practices by them, or is it actually God’s demand for His sheep to do just that?”

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yes, I still think it is a bit arrogant. I don’t believe that the Divine Service was ever to have such a horizontal aspect which would cause the Gospel not to predominate in the Word of Christ, forgiveness, and the Sacraments being shared. I think the very important horizontal aspect of serving one’s neighbor should be expected to be seen everywhere else outside of the Worship service.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yes, I still think it is a bit arrogant. I don’t believe that the Divine Service was ever to have such a horizontal aspect which would cause the Gospel not to predominate in the Word of Christ, forgiveness, and the Sacraments being shared. I think the very important horizontal aspect of serving one’s neighbor should be expected to be seen everywhere else outside of the Worship service.

  • Joe

    sml – “Joe, your contribution is helpful to show my point. In the early church, this horizontal aspect was not neglected. In today’s church, we have all but eliminated it. ”

    I guess this is where I disagree. I have never been a part of a congregation that did not provide all kinds of opportunities and means for fulfilling the horizontal aspect for those who wanted it. Perhaps I have been blessed with this. But I have yet to hear a suggestion for how we change/alter/restore the Divine Service in a way that will make people more likely to open up to the horizontal aspect of our lives together in Christ.

  • Joe

    sml – “Joe, your contribution is helpful to show my point. In the early church, this horizontal aspect was not neglected. In today’s church, we have all but eliminated it. ”

    I guess this is where I disagree. I have never been a part of a congregation that did not provide all kinds of opportunities and means for fulfilling the horizontal aspect for those who wanted it. Perhaps I have been blessed with this. But I have yet to hear a suggestion for how we change/alter/restore the Divine Service in a way that will make people more likely to open up to the horizontal aspect of our lives together in Christ.

  • Anon

    As I’ve described above, the Divine Service -is- Biblical and considerably more ancient than even the Church.

    The Divine Service is not the only thing the local congregation does, or should not be. There are a number of things a local congregation ought to be doing, including the things that sml is concerned about. Some of those could even be done before or after the Divine Service, in the Sunday School classrooms, or the fellowship hall – and often are. Where they aren’t, there is something to be prayerfully working for in that congregation.

    But with the Divine Service, God is holding court in heaven and on Earth, and all the saints together, militans and triumphans, worship Him. Even though He -is- as a brother to us, and we are indeed to have intimate relationships with Him in prayer, nonetheless, there is the time when He holds court, and as even a mere Earthly king’s best friends follow court protocol in court, so also do we along with “the angels and archangels, virgins, saints and martyrs.” We are not alone with only those believers we do see in the Divine Service. Did you, like the prophet’s servant, not know this?

  • Anon

    As I’ve described above, the Divine Service -is- Biblical and considerably more ancient than even the Church.

    The Divine Service is not the only thing the local congregation does, or should not be. There are a number of things a local congregation ought to be doing, including the things that sml is concerned about. Some of those could even be done before or after the Divine Service, in the Sunday School classrooms, or the fellowship hall – and often are. Where they aren’t, there is something to be prayerfully working for in that congregation.

    But with the Divine Service, God is holding court in heaven and on Earth, and all the saints together, militans and triumphans, worship Him. Even though He -is- as a brother to us, and we are indeed to have intimate relationships with Him in prayer, nonetheless, there is the time when He holds court, and as even a mere Earthly king’s best friends follow court protocol in court, so also do we along with “the angels and archangels, virgins, saints and martyrs.” We are not alone with only those believers we do see in the Divine Service. Did you, like the prophet’s servant, not know this?

  • Trey

    I am days late in responding to this post. I will agree with Veith partially on his point. The minister is very important and for order churches should call a pastor to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments. The pastor however, is first a priest as are all Christians. His power does not presuppose the church nor is it given to him by ordination as some “Confessional” Lutherans falsely postulate.
    A greater question that is not clearly taught is that a Preacher is NOT necessary for salvation. I cannot be more emphatic concerning this. What is necessary is strictly Christ, the Word made flesh. Widely it is God’s Word and the hearing of that through reading or preaching from and spiritual priest (Christians). Lutheran theologians support this view (See Mueller in Christian Dogmatics).

  • Trey

    I am days late in responding to this post. I will agree with Veith partially on his point. The minister is very important and for order churches should call a pastor to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments. The pastor however, is first a priest as are all Christians. His power does not presuppose the church nor is it given to him by ordination as some “Confessional” Lutherans falsely postulate.
    A greater question that is not clearly taught is that a Preacher is NOT necessary for salvation. I cannot be more emphatic concerning this. What is necessary is strictly Christ, the Word made flesh. Widely it is God’s Word and the hearing of that through reading or preaching from and spiritual priest (Christians). Lutheran theologians support this view (See Mueller in Christian Dogmatics).


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