DIFFERING VIEWPOINTS ON WORSHIPPING OUR LORD
“I will praise you. O Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonders.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O most High.” Psalm 9: 1-2
Rick Warren in his thought-provoking book, “The Purpose Driven Life” uses the term ‘bunny believers’ to describe people who hop around from one church to another without any identity or commitment. Since my wife and I spend a considerable portion of our time traveling, I guess we would qualify as part-time church bunnies.
Our travels presents opportunities to visit churches in various parts of our country and since we do not feel compelled to only seek out mainline churches, we have encountered a variety of methods of worship. We were often amazed at the great variance of “spirit” among the churches. Some are so half-hearted and dry that one wonders if one of the tasks of the ushers might be to check the pulse of the participants to see if anyone has passed away during the service! Our Lord seems to be confined to the Book and never seems able to reach the hearts and minds of the worshipers.
On the other extreme it was not unusual in some churches for congregants to dance in place, clap their hands in time with the music, and to express their enthusiasm in a variety of ways. While we would probably feel more comfortable with less demonstrative worship, surely much can be said about their active participation in the worship of our Lord and attempting to bring Him back into the service as a live participant and not just part of a creed. Perhaps, the lack of life in some mainline churches is due to the intellectualization of the Gospel. The incarnation, resurrection, ascension, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit have become theological concepts without letting them grip one’s emotions. And the wonder of God actually knowing, loving, and caring for us seem to lost its vibrancy. The spiritual condition of some of the worship service seems to reflect those of Laodicea mentioned in Revelation 3: 14-21; “neither hot nor cold” --- just lukewarm. It seems many have lost the wonder of it all!
Another contrast between some of the mainline churches we visited and their charismatic counterparts is the age of their participants. It was rare to find younger or middle-age members in the mainline churches, almost all had graying or balding heads. Whereas, their opposite’s members were mainly young. One wonders, unless there is a surge of new recruits, who take over as the older members of the mainline churches depart this world?
Conversations with members of the charismatic congregations revealed that most of them had no prior formal religion training or had abandoned the religion of their parents at an earlier age. They became part of their church because they felt they were being fulfilled spiritually. One could question whether their enthusiasm will survive as they mature and the movement is still too new to predict its longevity but in the meanwhile no ushers are needed to check their pulse.