Browsing Tag

Worship

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Q&A–Is it wrong to have a dramatization of a Bible story in children’s Bible classes?

In light of our authority study, particularly the lengthy discussions and assignments the diggers have had about what is appropriate in worship to our God, some have asked about the appropriateness of dressing up and re-enacting a Bible account for our children in a class setting. Here are some points to consider while coming to the conclusion that it is not wrong to show children a Bible story in a class setting by acting it out.

  1. A children’s Bible class is not worship. There are many things we do in a class for our sweet children that would not be appropriate for our worship assemblies. We let children lead prayers. We show them flannel-graph stories. We pat the Bible. We glue popsicle sticks together. We color. We compete in answering Bible questions.
  2. Whatever is appropriate for our family Bible times at home is appropriate for our children’s classes. Have you thought about the fact that they are essentially the same thing? They are groups of childrenAuthoritygathered with guiding adults to talk about the Bible and engage in activities to help them put it in their hearts.
  3. Bible classes are not mentioned in your New Testament. Of course, they are authorized by passages that give elders the authority to feed the flock (Acts 20:28) and passages that give parents the responsibility of bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). But, for informal settings (not corporate worship), we cannot stretch the commands of worship to apply. If we were to apply the authority commands and restrictions of worship to our children’s Bible classes, we would essentially do away with them, because they would BE worship, not differing from it in any significant way.
  4. While the boundaries for what’s appropriate for classes would not be the same as those for worship, there would be some boundaries as there are for all activities in which Christians are involved. Does this class glorify God? Does this class achieve its purpose of putting knowledge of the Word inside the minds of children? Is the Bible reverently esteemed in the class activities? Is the information presented accurate?…Is truth presented on the age level of the children?

I hope this is helpful.

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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Cover Story Conclusion–A Dozen Things I’d Do If I Wore the Covering Today

I’ve spent more time than perhaps I should’ve this week contemplating the issue of the head covering from 1 Corinthians 11. I think it’s hard for any of us, in 2019, who are sisters in the kingdom of God to approach the study without any preconceived ideas. I tried to be open and honest as I looked at the teaching, but I confess that I do not want to wear the head covering. The chief reason I do not want to wear it is that my husband—my head—-does not want me to wear it. He’s convicted that it is not commanded for women in America, in 2019, and he believes that my wearing it would be a contentious and impeding action. However, he is, as always kind and protective of my conscience. Both of us understand that, if it is commanded by God for me to do so, then our fears and concerns about anything else, are irrelevant. But if it is not a requirement for women in the 21st century, it’s our judgment that it is best for me not to wear the head-covering, particularly after examining what it actually was and when it was worn. 

So for today, after much consideration and my best attempt at an open heart and mind…

If I were to wear a head covering when I pray or prophesy:

  1. I know I would be doing what the women in Corinth (at LEAST the women in Corinth) were commanded to do. In all of my reading, I did not find one scholar who argued that the women in Corinth were not commanded to cover their heads in I Corinthians 11 when they were praying and prophesying. 
  2. I would wear it both inside and outside of the worship assembly. As I posited in the last installment of this study, I cannot see any way that the head covering in 1 Corinthians 11 was limited to the worship assembly for the women in Corinth. They were not to be praying or prophesying without covered heads. They also were not to be speaking in worship (I Cor. 14:34-35; I Tim. 2: 11ff), so I could be sure the praying and prophesying they were doing was not in the assembly—thus, the command for the head covering was surely not limited to the assembly. Some have asserted that the prophesying was merely a “listening to prophecy.” I see no indication of this since we know that New Testament women did prophesy, having the gift of miraculous knowledge (Acts 2:16-18; Acts 21:8,9). For them merely to be in the audience of prophecy seems to me to stretch the text. 
  3. I would need to wear it because it is at least in some way related to nature, itself. This word nature is often used in the assertion that this teaching in 1 Corinthians 11 was not cultural; that it is inherent in the natural order; thus, is for all eras. I wanted to know if this is so, since the activity, for which the covering is specifically prescribed, seems to be, at least in part, one that women in the body no longer perform. Is it even possible that the nature word has any other connotation than meaning that the entire teaching of 1 Corinthians 11 (particularly here it would be the part about a woman having long hair) is inherent in the universal natural scheme of the earth and its elements?  When I looked at this, I noticed that Strong’s gave a secondary use of the Greek word for nature in I Corinthians 11:14. It is this: as opposed to what is monstrous, abnormal, perverse. Could it be that the women of Corinth were commanded to wear this covering when praying and prophesying because it would oppose what was abnormal or perverse in their environment of Corinth? That is, could it have been that their social climate (at least a segment of it) considered the unveiling of a woman to be that which was not normal?…maybe even perverse? Could that be the nature to which the covering of long hair, in this instance, was tied? (More on this in number 8.)
  4. I would need to be able to wear it “to give no offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God” (10:32). I believe that’s an important premise to whatever Paul is teaching. It seems that Paul is not specifically addressing the worship assembly until he actually says he is addressing it in verse 17… “when you come together…” It seems to me that the teaching about the head covering is in a section (looking back at chapter 10) that’s about the interaction of Christians in a community of unbelievers. It’s about what you do when invited to a pagan feast or when you see meat that perhaps was offered to idols in the marketplace. It’s about giving God glory in whatever common activity or event you participate (10:31). An examination of where the head-covering verses lie places them pretty clearly in a section about community involvement and glorifying God in the culture. It is clearly previous to the introduction, at least, by Paul of what we do when we “come together” (2:17).
  5. I would, then, need to wear this covering whenever I was in public, as was the Jewish and Roman custom at the time, not just in the worship assembly. 
  6. I’d need to be sure that the nature of my community was also of the mindset that the head-covering for worship was in opposition to the perverse. I was surprised to see, upon studying this topic, that in Genesis 38:14-16, in the culture of Judah and Tamar, it was the covered woman who was dressed as a prostitute (the opposite in that day and culture, from what it was, by nature, in the day of the first-century Corinthian church.) I believe, in the day and culture of Tamar, it would have been wrong for me to veil myself as did Tamar, but I do not believe it would be sinful today, because it does not signify prostitution in America today. (It might be a serious mistake, because it might make those in my community believe I was converting to the Muslim faith, however.)
  7. I’d have to do so knowing full well that the message I conveyed to my community by doing so was very different from the message the Corinthian Christian women conveyed in their wearing of the veil. As Guy Woods asserts “Corinth was made up of Greeks, Romans, and Jews, and all of these three elements of her population were found in the church to which Paul wrote. The Jew and the Roman worshipped with covered and the Greek with uncovered head. Naturally, a dispute would arise as to which custom was right…Now, in the East, in Paul’s day, all women went into public assemblies with their heads veiled, and this peplum, or veil, was regarded as a badge of subordination, a sign that the woman was under the power of the man. Thus, Chardin, the traveler, says that the women of Persia wear a veil in sign that they are under subjection., a fact which Paul also asserts in this chapter.” It seems that the symbolic significance of the head-dress became very much the crux of the discussion of Paul in the first half of 1 Corinthians 11. He asserts that, if a man prayed or prophesied with a covered head, he would have appeared to be effeminate, and, if a woman did so uncovered, she would have appeared to be insubordinate, casting off her modesty and boldly asserting her independence. In my community today, were I to begin to wear a head covering in all public places, as was the custom of the Jews and Romans of the environment to which the letter was written, my message to my neighbors would be far different from what theirs would have been. It seems clear to me that Paul was encouraging the Corinthian women to refrain from needlessly crossing the culture, from introducing unnecessary innovations and distinctions which would have added to their persecutions and perhaps impeded their evangelism. If they (Corinthian women) went unveiled, their message was that they did not recognize the headship of their husbands, the authority of the God of creation, the respect due to angels (in what sense I am unsure), the standards of the society in which they lived, and the instruction of Paul. None of those messages are conveyed today, to any of my neighbors when I bow my head at our community picnics, ballgames or in the restaurant as I pray while my husband is leading the prayer.
  8. I would certainly wear more than a small lace cloth. In examining the societal context of what Paul is telling the Corinthian women, I can see no evidence that their covering was anything less than a full, head covering and, very likely, it was in contradistinction to the prostitutes of the temple of Aphrodite, who dared to walk around the city in that day having removed their veils. We can be fairly certain that a lot of sexual activity was related to the worship at this temple bearing the name with the same root as our word aphrodisiac. This quote from Strabo in 20 A.D. is indicative of that: “The temple of Aphrodite was once so rich that it had acquired more than a thousand prostitutes, donated by both men and women to the service of the goddess. And because of them, the city used to be jam-packed and became wealthy. The ship-captains would spend fortunes there, and so the proverb says: ‘The voyage to Corinth isn’t for just any man.’”  To be fair, there are many who believe Strabo exaggerated the rampancy of prostitution, but few who believe the sexuality associated with the temple was not rampant. My belief that the covering was really a covering, however, is just because the word cover is used rather than ornamentation or cloth or lace. Here is Strong’s on that word. I just do not believe this could have/would have been done with a small lace covering.

               2619. κατακαλύπτω katakalyptō; from 2596 and 2572; to cover wholly, i.e. veil: — cover, hide. to cover up, to veil or cover one’s self   

  9. I would wear it when I led prayer in front of an exclusively female group (that’s the only place I  would ever lead a prayer as per I Timothy 2 and I Corinthians 14), but I would not ever need one for prophesying. The three instances, as we have mentioned, in the New Testament that refer to women prophesying are all in a context, I believe, of miraculous spiritual gifts. Acts 2:16-18 is very clear about what kind of prophesying the daughters and handmaidens would be doing. Acts 21 draws special attention to the daughters of Philip in a way that I believe lends itself to the miraculous. (It seems to me there would be many women who regularly and routinely taught in the non-miraculous Titus 2 sense.) It seems to me that the praying and prophesying of the early part of 1 Corinthians 11 may very well have both been related to the miraculous, since it is followed closely by a fairly large portion of scripture devoted to the miraculous. (It is interesting that the scripture in Jude 20 does refer to praying in the Spirit. This very well could be referring to miraculous knowledge directing the prayers of Christians in the first century. The recorded prayers of the New Testament writers were certainly miraculously God-breathed.) This large section of scripture in chapters 12-14, interestingly is very clear about the close of the miraculous age and the end of prophecies (I Corinthians 13:8-9). I would not be dogmatic about the praying of I Corinthians 11:5, but I, personally believe that both the praying and the prophesying of that passage were activities women did in the context of the miraculous (outside of the assembly)…things we do not even do today. As Robert Taylor put it “ It is quite likely that the apostle is discussing those with miraculous powers for both praying and prophesying.” 
  10. I’d be aware that the wearing of such a covering was likely not worn in every New Testament church. First Timothy was a letter full of instructions for Timothy to pass along to the Ephesian church. Sandwiched right between men lifting holy hands in chapter 2, verse 8 and women being silent in the assembly in verse 11, Paul describes the kind of hairstyle that women needed to avoid (or at least the hairstyle that was not to be the emphasis when they were assembled). But why would this matter all if women’s heads were covered? It simply would not. But Ephesus was a different culture than was Corinth, so it seems the admonition for the woman’s head in worship was not exactly the same. In fact, it seems it was pretty different for these two churches separated by a land distance of just under 900 miles or a trip across the Aegean Sea. It seems to me that maybe Paul could have referred to this very thing when he said in verse 16 of 1 Corinthians 11, “If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.”  Maybe it was that the city from which he was writing the letter to Corinth (Ephesus) did not have such a custom; thus, “…we have no such custom (or practice).”
  11. I’d wonder if I should be at the door of the building each Sunday to greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. I say this, not with any sarcasm at all, but truly trying to distinguish between the cultural practice being regulated by Romans 16:16 of kissing one another and the regulation of the 1 Timothy 2 cultural practice. As Brother Woods put it in the same article cited earlier “…the mere omission of it [the covering] is no more an act of disobedience than is the failure to stand at the door and greet each member with a holy kiss.”
  12. I would be very careful not to bind the wearing on others. There is nothing wrong with wearing a veil, although I believe it would be inhibitive of unity and evangelism, in my case. If a woman’s conscience is violated by the omission of a veil, then certainly she should wear one. (I would beg, though, that consistency should induce her to wear a full head covering and to wear it in all public places.) But to bind this practice, intended to encourage conformity to a culture in which the covering represented submission to God and husband, I believe, is a wrong and contentious thing to do. I understand that there will be those who disagree with what I’ve written. But I am praying that this writing will not be divisive in any way. May we all strive to please Him in both our study and application and may we be gracious to each other as we strive as sisters to live under His authority in 2019 and beyond.

Sources quoted or consulted:

Faraone, Christopher A. and McClure, Laura K., Prostitutes and Courtesans in the Ancient Word, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI. 2006, p.90.

Giselbach, Ben; Questions and Answers; https://plainsimplefaith.com/headcoverings/

Taylor, Robert; Studies in 1 Corinthians 11,Words of Truth, Volume 14, Number 37, 1978

Woods, Guy N., The Christian life of faithful subordination to God replaces a 1st century custom of veiling, Christian Times, 1993.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Contest Winners!… Elizabeth, Tracy and Alisha

Contest winners are Elizabeth Moon, Tracy Parsons and Alisha Middleton. Congratulations to these three sisters who shared encouraging comments, notes and/or gifts given by others in the body of Christ. Congratulations to all those who sent in examples of the various ways and words used to encourage…because those in the family who receive encouragement from their brothers and sisters have a lot to celebrate. 

Elizabeth, Tracy and Alisha, choose your free product from The Colley House and email your postal address along with your selection to byhcontest@gmail.com

Here’s Elizabeth Moon’s winning entry. (I’ll share the others soon.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Go encourage someone this holiday season!

This year, my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child. We are living 15 hours away from home while he is in school, and having earthly family around to guide us during this happy time hasn’t really been possible. We have TRULY come to yearn for Titus 2 relationships and bonding with older wiser Christians to teach us and help us with advice in preparing to raise our children. One piece of advice we have received is to attain “quiet” toys during the worship time in those early years so as to not be a distraction to others around us as they are also trying to worship. The only problem has been that we have literally been looking for something that fits that bill for almost the entire pregnancy. Yet, almost every toy made today is made to stimulate and entertain our little ones or are either too hard or big to ever be capable of being “quiet” in the hands of a very little one. Then today a little piece of encouragement made our entire wait/pursual worth it. My husband has recently started filling in for a small congregation about an hour away from us a few times a month. It was there, without any previous knowledge of our “toy pursuit”, that a sweethearted older woman thought enough of us to remember our child on their Christmas list. What was the gift? Only the most beautiful handmade “pillow” doll I had ever laid my now teary flooded eyes on. With a simple note that spoke such generosity, care, and guidance all in only one short note. It said, “Merry Christmas. This is a “church” doll, if dropped during service there is no noise made.” To someone else this may seem so little. But to me, it was so much more. We have searched and searched and searched for something that would heed the advice of the wisdom of our older brothers and sisters. To virtually no avail. Then, only 4 short weeks, before our baby is to be born, God through Mrs. Ruth Ann sends us the “toy” we had been searching for. But with much more love than we would have found at a store. No, this one was made specifically for our child. For the very purpose we had been searching for. And by one of those wise, helpful, Titus 2 woman that we have so desperately wanted to learn from. How encouraging. How magnificent. Something so small, yet something we will be sure to pass down to each of our children. Along with all the lessons this doll represents to us. This doll, and that small sweet note, we’re definitely an encouragement to us. I will attach the picture of the doll and the note Mrs. Ruth Ann gave us.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Another Chance (part 3)

Womens-bible-studySo my good husband took Jerry in a little room and gave him a bottle of water and just chatted (…well, Jerry chatted…for a very long time), while we were about the living water in the next room. With open Bibles in both languages, we studied. Since Maria’s background in Mexico was first in Catholicism and then in a popular denomination, Maria was concerned that she had not found a church that aligned with the Bible as she understood its teachings. So we painstakingly examined what the New Testament says about the church. What would that church look like today?

We started with the names that are given to that church. We saw that the church is called the body in Ephesians 1:22, 23. It’s called the “church of Christ” (meaning the church belonging to Christ) in Romans 16:16 and the “church of God” In I Corinthians 1:2 and other places. It’s called the “church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23), and it’s simply called “the church” in many places. Maria agreed that it just would not be right for human beings to put their own names or even names they would personally assign on the body for which Jesus died, because it’s HIs bride (Ephesians 5: 23). He gets to pick the name.  After all, how would you feel about your husband if he was okay with you wearing someone else’s name?

We spent a while on how and when the church was established in Acts 2. Maria realized quickly that, if your church has a founding date other than Pentecost of 33 AD, it is not the church of the New Testament.

We talked about the founder of the church, Jesus of Nazareth, and how that any church that claims another founder would not truly be the church of the Bible. Maria said that, sadly, “her” church back in Mexico did have another founder and another beginning date. The more we talked, the more she wanted to find the church of the New Testament.

The next thing we talked about was organization. We went to I Timothy 3 and Titus 2 and Maria read for herself. She discovered that there were some very simple and easy-to-understand qualifications that must be met by a plurality of leaders in congregations. Here’s where she solidified her already haunting doubts that a papacy, a board of directors or a national or international council for a church could ever be what God intended. She came to fully realize that, in searching for the church, she must find a group of people who were autonomous…independent from hierarchy…a group which follows the Word as its only creed and its local elders as they feed the flock (Acts 20:28) and rule in matters of judgment.

And we talked about worship. We really talked about worship. We went all the way back to the times of Adam and Eve and talked about how that God IS concerned with the details of worship. We saw how that the whole Cain and Abel incident was precipitated by a lack of faith. That lack of faith resulted in worship that was not according to God’s command (Hebrews 11:4; Romans 10:17). We went to Leviticus ten and noticed the wrath of God poured out on Nadab and Abihu as the new priesthood system began with their presumption that they could offer a non-prescribed fire in their worship. Maria was all over this. It does matter to God that we follow directions for worship! She was thoughtful as we talked about worship and how that it’s never been intended to be an activity that pleases the worshippers. The audience of worship is God and He gets to decide what is acceptable in worship. It dawned on Maria…maybe for the first time…that, just because someone is worshipping does NOT mean that God is pleased with that worship. In fact, much of the book of first Corinthians was written to instruct about proper worship. It matters. She was getting it.

So we noticed how New Testament Christians worshipped. They sang together…simple, a cappella  music (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). We noticed how that we know, both from scripture and from history, that instrumentation in worship was not a “thing”—never even introduced in worship—till hundreds of years after the church began. We even noticed how leaders in denominations, which are today fully instrumental, were appalled when the organ was first introduced (http://www.bible.ca/ef/topical-historical-quotes-about-music-in-worship.htm) We talked about the prayers of the early church in worship and their weekly observance of the feast commemorating the death of Jesus. We talked about the teaching that happened when they came together. Maria was turning pages in her Spanish Bible. I was hoping Glenn could “visit’ with Jeff for just one more hour because the most important part of our discussion was just about to happen…

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Figuring Out Godliness–Part 3

Do You Trust Him?

aster_cafev1_600x300I went to lunch recently with a couple of friends from a denomination who wanted to talk about women and ministry. It seems they had a close girlfriend who was an extremely talented speaker. “She’s got this amazing ability to convince and convict non-believers. She’s a better preacher than any man we know” they said. “Don’t you think God expects her to use her talents to speak to people about him? “

The answer is “yes.” Of course there are settings in which all of the talents God has given me can and should be used to His glory. But just because I’ve been blessed with a talent, doesn’t mean there are no divinely imposed restrictions regarding the use of that talent. My husband is a great guitarist, but he does not play the guitar in worship. My daughter is a great cook, but she doesn’t prepare her famous macaroni and cheese for the communion table. I like public speaking. Is that a talent I can use in worship to God?

Let’s look at the passage from I Timothy 2 again:

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression (I Tim. 2:11-14).

In a context that is addressing worship issues, women are commanded to be silent. They are commanded not to have authority over or dominate a man in worship. Before we address the reasons given in the passage, let’s look at a parallel scripture:

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.
And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church (I Cor.14:34,35)

The devil has often used the tool of feminism in our society to make God’s people ashamed to adhere to clear teachings of the New Testament about the role of women in worship. After all, this is the 21st century. Women are astronauts, engineers, CEOs and presidential candidates. Can we really continue promoting this antiquated notion that women are to be silent in our worship assemblies?

Romans 12: 2 tells us “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”.  Sometimes when we think of worldliness, we think of immorality. We think of drinking, gambling, reckless affluence, and illicit sex. But being conformed to the world is simply allowing the culture around us to influence us to disobey God.  The teachings about a woman’s role in worship are some of the plainest teachings in the New Testament.  We need help to misunderstand them.  The fact that they are not politically correct in our culture does not change them.

Frequently, I will have someone ask “Couldn’t this teaching have been for Paul’s culture only? Does it necessarily apply to women today?”  In our text, it is almost as if the Holy Spirit anticipated this question. Notice he proceeds to give the reason for the command: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

Notice that the reason, (what happened in the Garden of Eden), has to do with people far removed from Paul’s culture. In I Peter 3; 4, 5, Peter reiterates the submission principle, in this case speaking about submission of a woman to her husband. Notice the woman who modeled submission for the first century Christian women was Sarah. But Sarah lived a couple of millenniums before the first century.   She was definitely not part of Peter’s culture.  See, the teaching about submission in the church and in the home is not a culture-limited teaching. It began in the Garden and continues to apply in God’s new covenant.  It applies throughout all eras of time and across all cultures.

While I can see many reasons for God’s imposed limitations for women in worship, it’s important to remember that whether or not a command makes sense to me is irrelevant to its importance or the consequences of disobeying it. As a matter of fact, if I choose to obey only the commands that make sense to me, then I am not really trusting God. I’m not really doing what God says because he says it. I’m doing what I think is best. While our faith is a reasonable, logic based faith, it goes a step beyond logic. Faith says “I will obey when it makes sense to me and even when it doesn’t, because I trust that God knows what’s best for my life.”

But remember. The answer to the question about whether I should use my teaching talents in the kingdom was “yes.” So if I cannot teach in worship, then how can I use this talent?

I know a young lady who started a community Bible study for ladies in her hometown. She obtained permission to use a town hall and soon had about 50 women in attendance, half of whom were not members of the Lord’s church. I dare say she was reaching more non-Christians with the gospel than her husband who was the local preacher. But was she in any way having authority over men? No.

I know a teenager who started a weekly devotional for girls via email. Her weekly emails strengthened and blessed the lives of dozens of girls each week. Was she using her teaching talents for the kingdom? Oh, yes. But she was not violating the passage.

My daughter and I often have the chance to speak for ladies groups:  ladies’ days, teen girls’ days, ladies classes at lectureships, girls’ sessions at youth rallies, mother-daughter banquets, youth camps and retreats. All of these are wonderful times of fellowship and learning for all involved, especially us. But in none of these cases are we violating the passage.

It has been my experience and observation that those of us who are concerned about being Titus 2 women (as noted above), evangelizing the lost, and caring for the needy  have far more to do in the kingdom than we can possibly accomplish in this lifetime, without clamoring for positions of leadership that God reserved for men. It has also been my observation that when women step into positions of leadership in worship, important jobs best done by women (the care of their children, hospitality, the guiding of the house) are neglected. But let me say it again: It doesn’t really matter if I can see the wisdom in the prohibition. God said it. Faith is doing what God says to do. Period.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Thursday Night: Tradition in Worship; Are We Too Bound?

DiggingDeepSpecialBoundIt’s quite the topic for discussion as many churches in America today are struggling with just how far to go in worship to appeal to the informal and entertainment-focused culture in which we live. Various churches that have long been settled into formal and predictable worship are frequently solving the dilemma by splitting their assemblies into two well-defined groups each Sunday. One service remains rather formal…some might say “stoic”…while the other service (generally a little later in the day) is characterized by a laid-back casual atmosphere and usually by a full slate of entertainment, accompanied by a full band.

But lots of folks in the younger generation are rejecting organized religion altogether, insisting that true worship to God is not characterized by meeting with a certain group of people at all, but is rather being immersed in the culture…blending in with sinful man, so that the love of Christ introduces people subtly to the love of God and brings them, not necessarily to a new lifestyle, but rather embraces them where they are and allows them to “reflect Christ” in whatever lifestyle they may be found. This kind of “evangelism” is better done in a bar than a church building and better expressed in feeding the homeless than in having Bible studies with them. Thus, rather than bringing people to the church, we “grow” the church from the people. It’s often called the “emerging church”.

So which is it? Is it either? What are we, as God’s people, to do in this culture of tolerance of all lifestyles and worship styles. Does God care about the details of worship or is He only interested in the zeal and sincerity of the believer? Does the Bible speak to this and, if so, is the Word relevant in our practical styles of worship today?

These are some of the questions we will attempt to answer this Thursday night, May 16th at 7 p.m. CST/8 p.m. EST. There are some who believe the exploration of this topic is very important for all of us. Others think it’s only important to delve into the details of scriptural authority if you are personally convicted by conscience that it matters. I hope you can join us this Thursday. I hope you will bring your comments, questions and insights. It will be an interesting discussion. I do not have all the answers, but I do believe God ultimately does. Let’s be humble before Him. Let’s be honest before Him. And let’s study together. I’m praying about this. I hope you will, too.