Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Complete Worship Service

From chapter 5 of The Complete Worship Service - creating a taste of heaven on earth, by Kevin J Navarro, published by Baker Books 2005.

[In preaching] I do not think we have to choose between being culturally relevant or textually accurate. Why do we need to be binary when it comes to this issue? Why can’t we be faithful to the text and relevant to the issues our people are struggling with? This is the issue John R W Stott addressed when he spoke about living between two worlds. We must exegete the text, but we must also exegete our culture. As we strive to preach a message series, I believe we are forced to think about this issue. And I believe that as we do this with excellence, people will talk and say, ‘You’ve gotta be there.’ They will say, ‘The music is great, the people are friendly, and the teaching is really a blessing.’ God will begin to use us to reach out to our communities that so desperately need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God.

I encourage you to have a solid theological orientation when it comes to worship service planning, but I also encourage you to have an entrepreneurial spirit. Try new and innovative initiatives that will give your people incentive to invite their friends to your church. Certainly focus on the quality, but also ponder the human needs you are addressing and then begin to tell your community about your church. We need to aggressively think of ways to connect without community. We need to pray that our church would be like a magnet, drawing all who are looking for life in Christ. And then we need to pray that when they actually arrive, this is in fact what they will find.

The Lord is ready to bring the city to our doorstep, but are we ready? As we would clean up our house before inviting someone over for dinner, we need to clean up the mediocrity we have settled for in the local church. Garden-variety worship is unacceptable. It is not what God wants from us. And it certainly is not what spiritually desperate people are longing for. People are longing for a taste of heaven. Go out of the way to have a hospitable spirit toward people looking for Jesus. When they encounter this kind of hospitable community, they will in turn say, "You’ve gotta be at this church.’ This is my prayer for your church and for mine. May God grant us life-giving churches!
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