“Anyone who travels and visits churches will see that program, theme, and creative are the most dominant words of worship planning that force leaders toward designing culturally driven worship. My concern is that culturally driven worship will nurture a culturally formed spiritual life. If this is true, how do we correct current worship practices so that it does truth and forms the congregation into a deeper, more biblically informed spirituality? I suggest we look once again at the ancient order of worship and ask how it shapes the spiritual life.”
I think the reason this is so is because we view worship not as a spiritually formative, God honoring, Community galvanizing event where non-Christians, skeptics, and nominal Christians might be looking on. Rather, we view this as the central marketplace of our vanity fair, with the hopes that if we can keep the people in our church via our worship, we can develop them as disciples through other acts of nurture, Christian growth, and spiritual formation. The problem is this character strips the worship event of what it was truly meant to engender: a divine-human interaction where the people hear from and respond to the mighty works that God has done, and in so doing, find the norm and standard for the rest of their weeks and interactions having been modeled at pulpit and table.
Having seen the great things that God has done for unworthy sinners, we are free then to forgive, to initiate to others, to believe in hope, to confess our sin, to seek to restore, and to find fellowship, all because these are the things that God has done for us at great cost to himself.
When we don’t do this, we find that people see modeled before them exactly what they practice in their own spiritual lives. A faith embodied by a “god” who always produces for them exactly what they want, exactly when they want it, and when it isn’t going their way and they complain, they again receive what they want. The cultural formation at work here is an elevation of self, and a deification of people retention over people formation.