I’ve attended church for more than twenty years now, and have experienced many different kinds of worship services. Some focused on praising God through singing, some were heavy on the prayer, others were a blend of both, and some were incredibly varied and diverse. Many of today’s modern churches, Tim Challies argues in his article “The Missing Elements of Modern Worship,” lack essential ingredients needed to truly create a full Christian worship experience.
Here are a few of the examples Challies shares of these missing pieces:
Prayer. Challies shares a story of visiting a church where “the only prayer in the entire service was a prayer of response following the sermon. “With every head bowed and every eye closed, pray these words with me…” There were no prayers of confession, of intercession, of thanksgiving. There was no pastoral prayer to bring the cares of the congregation before the Lord.” When we leave prayer out of our worship services, we are missing a crucial way we as believers communicate and connect with our God in heaven. It’s essential that we spend intentional time in prayer together as a body of believers, praising God, confessing our sins to him, interceding on behalf of others, and asking for guidance in our lives. We shouldn’t get so caught up in the singing that we forget to diligently pray, too.
Scripture reading. Challies reminds us that “There was a time when most services included a couple of lengthy readings, often one from the Old Testament and one from the New.” He also shares Paul’s command from 1 Timothy 4:13 to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture.” While many pastors reference Scripture in their teachings, our Christian worship services should include dedicated readings of the Bible instead of neglecting the Word of God. Todd Pruitt, a Crosswalk.com contributor, writes, “In many Churches and Christian gatherings it is not unusual for God’s Word to be shortchanged…Pulpits have shrunk and even disappeared while bands and lighting have grown. But faith does not come from music, dynamic experiences, or supposed encounters with God. Faith is birthed through the proclamation of God’s Word (Rom 10:17).”
Congregational singing. I’ve often been in church services where it feels like nobody is singing along with the band or worship leaders. As many churches have transitioned to worship being led by a band or a group of singers, it’s easy for churchgoers to feel like worship is more of a concert than a congregational experience. “You know you are experiencing congregational worship when the voices of the people rise higher than the instruments and lead worshippers,” Challies writes. “Wall-shaking, roof-lifting, band-driven worship is no substitute for the beauty of the human voice singing praise to God.” Even if you don’t think you’re a good singer, joining in with other believers to lift your voice in praise is a powerful and God-glorifying experience. Psalm 98:4 reminds us to “make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.”
For the full list of missing elements in modern worship, read the original article here.
Worship is intended to be our praise of the only One who is worthy– Jesus. “‘Give to the Lord the glory due His name and bring an offering.’ So commands 1 Chronicles 16:29 and Psalm 96:8,” shares Joe McKeever on Crosswalk.com. “’The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart–these, O God, you will not despise.’ (Psalm 51:17). Singing, praise, rejoicing. Praying, offering, humbling, loving. All these are commanded in worship at various places in Scripture.”
Worship in our churches should be less about our own selves and what we “get out of it” and so much more about coming before our Almighty God alongside other believers to glorify him through our prayer, our reading of his Word, and our praise.