It’s too bad pastors today are trying to be dramatic and, in doing so, are missing the real drama found at every worship service.
What do I mean?
A common trend in evangelical churches is putting on stage a piece of drama before the congregation in the midst of the worship service. The lights dim. A spotlight shines on center stage. Mood music flows into the sanctuary to build anticipation in the audience as the performers take the stage. Usually then a scene meant to portray a Biblical story or emphasize a spiritual truth is performed to draw the congregation into the theme for that day’s service.
The only problem with this is that in trying to be trendy and dramatic, usually with the design to bring in the numbers, the church is missing the real drama of worship. Again, what do I mean?
The Lord of the Scriptures has given us commands regarding His worship, commandments that could be summarized in this basic statement: “Keep it simple and pure.” As the Apostle Paul told the “always-looking-for-a-good-show” church at Corinth:
“I am afraid, that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3).
In worship the Lord has told us that the church should be content with and devoted to teaching, fellowship, the sacraments, prayer, and giving (Acts 2:42-47). For this is where the real drama is found.
In particular, consider the reading of God’s Word. When the Word of God is opened and read, think of what is happening. The Lord who brought the heaven and earth into being with His speech is now speaking to the congregation. The One who shook Mt. Sinai with thunder and lightening in giving the commandments to His people would now like your attention. He who still speaks and shakes the world with earthquakes, storms and tsunamis with His voice (Psalm 29:3-9) and destroys powerful nations and rulers with His breath (Isaiah 40:21-25) would like to talk to you about your standing before Him. What drama in just the reading of the word!
Then there is the preaching. As the preacher approaches the pulpit (if he’s worth the trouble of listening to at all), he comes to that pulpit a-trembling. He is fully aware that he is a sinful man, and is a “dying man preaching to dying men.” The only way he can even think of doing what he is about to do is because he has been cleansed and called by the Spirit of God. He clings to the pulpit to steady himself as he considers that he is about to open his mouth and, in the presence of God and His people, speak on behalf of the living God! Who is capable of such things? Yet as an ambassador for Christ he must speak (II Corinthians 5:20), and as he does his only hope in surviving the experience without judgment and the only source of boldness he can find for this task is that what he now proclaims is the Word of God. As Paul said,
“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (I Thessalonians 3:13).
When the gospel is proclaimed, dead sinners are raised to life. When the gospel is preached, saints experience God feeding them and having fellowship with them. When the gospel is heralded, the Spirit of the God of heaven is at effectual work in the lives of people. What a call then to worship! What a hope the gospel brings! And what a judgment already being shown on those multitudes who would rather see a two-bit skit than be fed the very word of God. What a drama is unfolding every week at the house of the Lord!
And as for this preacher, the gospel is all that I have to offer, but what a gospel I have to offer!