My post last week was entitled “For God’s Sake… Don’t Do This!”. You can read it here: https://goingfullcircleblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/for-gods-sake-please-dont-do-this. On Wednesday of last week the article was read more than 120 times that one day and totaled 153 reads for the week. There were several excellent comments posted by readers, too, and I encourage you to click above and go back and check them out.
Where did things go wrong in the case study I presented in last week’s article? How can we fit our understanding of worship and culture together in a way that glorifies God and takes us full circle? Let’s start by reviewing what we know so far in this journey of “Going Full Circle in worship, discipleship, and mission.”
- First, God created worship for himself. Worship is never about us; instead, worship is “all about” God.
- Second, our style preferences are idolatrous when we put them on the throne of worship.
- Third, real worship, empowered by spirit and truth, connects us to God to help us fall deeply in love with him. This love ignites us to a lifetime of daily discipleship and mission.
- Fourth, culture is a tool from God we can use to connect people with him.
Here is my two-fold conclusion. Read it carefully and think about it. It may shake your pre-conceptions:
- IN THE CHURCH: We must use indigenous cultural styles to connect Christians to God in their heart language even if the style they love seems somewhat outdated to others. Regardless of style, worship must be totally focused on God alone. Style in the church exists for no other reason than to connect Christians with God and move them to deeper discipleship and mission – not to keep members happy, giving, or attending. So, in the church, we offer worship in the members’ heart languages to intentionally move them to daily discipleship and mission action.
- IN THE WORLD: As Christians are connected with God in worship and discipleship, God sends us to the world to connect others with him in their heart language. Christians must learn the unique cultural expressions and styles of our target group so we can communicate the gospel in their indigenous heart language.
There it is, as simple as that. We first worship in our heart language. Then we go learn the heart language of the target group to whom God sends us. With this understanding, our slavery to attractional thinking can be broken. We are free to connect Christians with God in a style that fits them best so that they can be sent on mission. — Mark Powers