Dr. Michael Horton (Associate Professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, Editor of Modern Reformation Magazine, Pres. of Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, host of White Horse Inn radio broadcast) in his upcoming book Christless Christianity, based on his lecture series of the same name, proposes that worship in American churches has turned away from the biblical view of Christ led worship, and instead is focused on us, the congregation. He proposes that we go to a busy (even mega) church for a list of things we can do (ministry), that we go to give God what we think he wants, and our churches are focused on US, not God. We seek the the emotional experience of being near God through fancy worship groups, and believe that experience to be worship. Statistics show that despite all the hoopla over modern worship, it is a dismal failure in that attendance is down 35%. He relates the experience at Willow Creek church where in spite of their influential position in evangelical circles, they have admitted that all of their ministry and outreach programs to build up the church have largely been ineffectual, and that one in four members is thinking of leaving the church, for lack of "being fed".
In the postmodern era we live in, we have made worship point upwards. God is the audience. We are the worshipers. Our worship rises to Him. Dr Horton proposes that this is exactly the wrong direction that worship should flow. The Greek word for "worship" is "called-in". His proposal is that God has called us together each Sunday so He can shower us with His grace, so we can repent and be forgiven, so God can give to us great gifts, and great news. God wants to smother us with His gospel, and get it deeper and deeper into us as we mature. What good news! Through the encouragement of others, through the Lord's supper, through our prayer and worship, and through the preaching of the gospel, He regenerates us with His Spirit, and continues to sanctify us. Just as Jesus washed the feet of the 12 at the Last Supper, so he wants to serve us, even to this day, at our weekly gathering. Jesus came 2000 years ago to serve us, and he continues to serve us, even to this day, and at our worship services in particular. He doesn't want us to serve HIM on Sundays, HE wants to serve us. The ministry of God flows downword to us and out to the world through us.
Dr. Horton completely backs up his thinking with scripture, and for that reason I am inclined to agree with his proposal. My own experience tells me that the sheep are not getting fed at church. In fact, often the sheep are told if they are not growing, then it is their own fault for not being responsible for there own growth. Three times the Lord said, "Peter, feed my sheep". To paraphrase Dr Horton, "Jesus said, I'm gonna die for these sheep, all I want you to do is feed them until I come back for them!".
For more info on Dr. Horton
For Michel Horton Books
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