Editor’s Introduction Recovering Worship: Regaining Our Focus -- By: John H. Armstrong

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 09:2 (Spring 2000)
Article: Editor’s Introduction Recovering Worship: Regaining Our Focus
Author: John H. Armstrong

Editor’s Introduction
Recovering Worship: Regaining Our Focus

John H. Armstrong

Seven years ago we devoted an issue of Reformation & Revival Journal (Volume Two, Number One) to the theme of worship. In that issue we addressed some of “the trends and movements in the church which affect how we do or do not worship God.” In the time since I wrote those words (1993) not much has changed in the church of North America. The “worship wars” have continued, almost unabated, and the anthropocentricity of modern congregational focus has continued, with almost no perceptible change.

My own local newspaper, like many, has a Sunday segment on religion. Recently the lead article was titled “Showing the Bible’s Relevance Today.” It was a piece on how “start-up churches” in our fast growing county attract large numbers of people to their contemporary Sunday services. It included the stories of several who had found, as one pastor put it, “the church for people who don’t like church.” (I must confess, I still do not understand this in light of the “offense” the gospel inevitably causes for those who do not believe it!)

One convinced participant in a new church plant spoke of “too much pomp and circumstance” in his birth church. But what exactly attracts these devoted followers to these new churches? Daily Herald staff writer Judith Cookis answers: “Religious leaders say their churches are just delivering what people have been craving: contemporary services that show the Bible’s relevance to their lives now.”1 Her point is well illustrated by one who saw a dramatic reenactment of the Ten Commandments one Sunday and said it changed him forever. He opined, “I used to think it [Christianity?] was a list of things not to do. It’s really a

freedom to know how to live your life.”

Many say to this: What’s the big deal about style and form in worship? Aren’t multitudes going back to church and finding spiritual meaning for their lives? How can anything be wrong with this? After all, isn’t worship about me getting my needs met by God? Don’t I attend precisely because I need to get something that will actually help me live more authentically? Well, not exactly. This, in my estimation, is precisely the problem. This ongoing revolution in public worship is dangerous because many who attend these churches are being led to develop significantly wrong ideas about God! These wrong ideas are staggering if one considers the actual weight of research done by George Gallup, Jr., and George Barna. Let me elaborate.

One convinced attendee ...

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