A big part of the problem is that we have gotten the unconverted in the church while still unconverted, and as such, they have no love for God, His Christ, His people nor for true worship. – Joel Taylor
Over the last 50 years or so, there has been a dumbing down of Biblical worship and the witness of professing Christians in America. The extent of this process has increased to the point that the present worship or witness is not recognizable to that of the early body of Christians in Apostolic times.
What are the reasons for such a decline? I believe there are two things, among many, that stand out as villains.
Method of Evangelism
The first is the non-biblical method of evangelism or the manner of reaching people for church. Secondly, there is the very pressing problem of accommodating what we do in worship and in the whole of ‘church’ to the desires of children, the youth and their parents. Let me take them one at a time.
In the days of the Apostles, evangelism, the method of reaching those outside of Christ to a saving knowledge, involved that of Christians assembling to worship, receiving instructions, and guidance for both life and finally, the reaching of others for Christ. Worship was a time for being fed the truth by faithful pastors. It was a time to receive guidance in overcoming the world, to know the will of God, and to be equipped (Ephes. 4:12) to minister (serve) in the cause of God and Christ. These same people – fed, comforted and encouraged – would leave these times of fellowship and worship to go forth as ambassadors for Christ. Witnessing was one-on-one, or, if possible, with a whole family. But Christian responsibility did not end when they left the assembly in worship, it was only the beginning. This personal witnessing is now left to the cultic groups who proclaim false doctrine day in and day out. Those who profess to be Christians believe their duty is over after the morning ‘worship’ on Sunday. Those early Christians were brought together to worship God and to be built up for ready service to God as their first and foremost responsibility and privilege.
The witness to the lost, if such exist at all, is left to the faithful man of God and perhaps his staff. What a change from the days of the Apostles. For most who profess Christ, the Sunday morning worship is the end of their responsibilities as a Christian.
What has happened between those early days of Christianity and now? Does God no longer reign on the throne? Has the power to save been altered from the apostolic days? Does the Bible need to be updated for this modern age or just completely removed? I believe God is still God but men have become even more corrupt, just as they were before the flood of Noah’s day. It is difficult to get people to come and worship. The enticement of the world is so alluring. Worship just demands too much of a fellow. Praying and giving attention to the preaching of the Word demands too much discipline. There has, therefore, been a dumbing down of requirements for ‘church membership’ to accommodate this mindset of the modern man. The New Testament has now been replaced with the pragmatism of men. You do what is necessary to fill the pews, pay the bills, etc. To get the unchurched, the unconverted, into the ‘church’ there has been a seemingly necessary compromise.
A big part of the problem is that we have gotten the unconverted in the church while still unconverted, and as such, they have no love for God, His Christ, His people nor for true worship. Instead of the spirit of Paul who says, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16), we now have another gospel with no authority from God. The witness to the lost, if such exist at all, is left to the faithful man of God and perhaps his staff. What a change from the days of the Apostles. For most who profess Christ, the Sunday morning worship is the end of their responsibilities as a Christian.
Accommodating Desires of Youth and Children
A second challenge which has affected the worship of God has been that of the professed body of Christians in trying to accommodate itself to the needs and desires of the children and youth because parents have abdicated their responsibilities to the family. Again, an alteration from the apostolic period. Then, and for years after, by Scriptural standards, the social and child training was left to the family. The husband and wife were responsible, but all has changed in this consumer-oriented, government do-it-all society, and it has dramatically affected professed Christianity in both its worship and witness to the world.
Both of these villains have resulted in the dumbing down of the worship of God. They have diminished the role of God and elevated the role of man in worship. When the worship of God is governed by the unconverted or the desire to get them into the church by watering down the Gospel; or when the worship of God is dictated by the desires of men, then the death-knell of true worship rings loud and clear. Pragmatically turning the local church into a Romper Room for adults has a devastating effect upon our witness.
Oh, that God would revive His people. Bring them to conformity to His will as is set forth in the Scriptures and especially the New Testament. That they would worship under the New Covenant of grace. Would it be that they knew the spirit of David who said, “I was glad when they said to me let us go to the house of the Lord.” Oh, that the prayer of David, in the building of the house of God, would be ours once again:
“Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of Israel our father forever and forever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou doest exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thine hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. Now, therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise Thy glorious name.” – I Chronicles 29:10-13
May this be our mindset, our hearts desire in praise and prayer in the days ahead.