A major part of my role here at our church is planning the order of service. How long should the speaking last before people get restless? Where should an announcement get placed in the service so it has the most impact? Should worship be at the beginning of a service or the end? Who is making transitions happen? And a host of other painstakingly detailed questions that corporately ask the question, “What sets people up to have an encounter with Jesus?”
The way that I approach this is that all elements of the service should drive home a common theme. A service ought to be fluid and smooth. I remember that this was my stance long ago when I was asked to come on board as worship pastor at Transit. I remember commenting something to the effect of, “I don’t want to see worship simply being a sing-along time. I don’t want to see worship simply being a prelude to the teaching.”
Unfortunately, I think my fear is the reality in plenty of churches. There’s a lot of loud, rock n’ roll music at the opening of the service to warm people up to what’s actually important, the preaching. Can we really make such a dichotomy in our services, and expect that we are effectively developing holistic disciples of Christ? Maybe it’s a Western perspective or an uninformed one, but either way, this is a sad way to approach ministry, in my book.
Let me say it like this… What’s more important, learning about Christ or responding to Christ?
Neither can be more important. As a matter of fact, to isolate one from the other is detrimental in all capacities. It’s actually quite a beautiful cycle. When the congregation engages with the hearing of God’s Word, they are learning simply how to respond to Christ and others. Then in a time of worship, they are given the opportunity to do so.
Like I said, to separate learning about Christ and responding to Christ is to present a fallacy. If a believer merely learned about Christ… then great. He is becoming more and more intelligent. But what of it? What is the purpose of knowing more? Having all the revelation of Christ in the world is of inconsequential value if we are not expected to act on it. But, ah, what if a believer merely responds to God? This would be a church service full of disorder and uncontrolled emotion from albeit well-intentioned people. No, this won’t do either.
It seems to me that in the context of a church service, there should be no dichotomy, no division, none of this “one is more important than the other” nonsense. Instead, it must be fluid. It must be a cycle. Learn about Christ, respond to Christ. Learn about Christ, respond to Christ. Learn about Christ, respond to Christ. Both are exceedingly important when rooted in the Word of God and anointed by the Holy Spirit. AND, I have found time and again that this cycle, when successfully presented, creates a church of well-developed disciples.
So, church.. let’s preach, sing, teach, play, write, and serve with all we’ve got.. and learn to work together to build His Kingdom here on earth. The world will be better for it.