I love Pilgrim Books, the Christian used bookstore in Calgary. One thing I appreciate about it is that it carries books published many years ago, not just the latest trends hot off the press. I like to compare Christian viewpoints of today with those from the 1980’s, or 1950’s, the turn of the twentieth century, or even older. And the frosting on the cake is that the older books—which to me are often the most “meaty”—typically cost around two dollars.
In one visit to Pilgrim Books, a shocking title caught my eye: Don’t Waste Your Time in Worship. This book by James L. Christensen was published in 1978. I’d been more and more frustrated by the worship services I was attending, and always found myself trying to analyze what had changed over the years. But according to this 30-year-old book, not much had changed!
Here are a few of the many inspiring passages that I jotted down:
To worship God meaningfully is a supreme accomplishment. For a finite person to be in communication with the Infinite is not something done on the run. Nor is it a reality when approached flippantly or grudgingly…After 30 years as a Christian minister, I am convinced that many people who attend church do not really worship God at all. They waste their time.
The church today faces a crisis in its life, partially because worship has not been properly understood. Many people, whether they admit it or not, or are conscious of it or not, attend more as spectators of a performance rather than as participants in the worship of God. A choir does our singing; the minister does our praying, Scripture reading, and interpretation.
One may waste his time in church because much so-called worship is…focused upon man instead of God…One publisher recently observed: “For a preacher to be popular, all he has to do is use a lot of humor, tell stories well, and entertain his congregation.”
The reformation distaste for the Roman Catholic Mass, in which there was no preaching and much ceremony, caused a Protestant reaction to an opposite extreme, making the sermon central and eliminating main elements of worship. In some denominations, the church nave has become more of an auditorium than a sanctuary, transforming the altar into a lecture platform. Hence, the pulpit becomes the center of attention and the key to the church’s growth.
We have heard naïve ministers who have meant well say, “We come here to recharge the batteries of our spirit, so we may go forth to serve.” …but this is not the purpose of worship. The purpose of worship is not to build up the morale of the nation or to promote the church’s programs, as one might easily conclude from some preachments…However worthy these motives…God is worshiped for His own glory. Worship is man’s loving response to God’s personal revelation in Jesus Christ. Genuine worship takes place only when God is worshiped for His own sake.
Posted by Ramona
[Photos by Adrian van Leen on Open Photo]