A news account and a church advertisement reminded me that many evangelicals see their gathering on Sunday morning primarily as a time for having fun and building relationships. Admittedly, it may seem like I’m just an old curmudgeon and will stand accused of fearing that somebody somewhere is having a good time, but I believe that churches which are built on fun and relationships are part of the reason Christianity is deemed irrelevant by all too many in our culture.
Frankly, if I want to have fun, I’d rather go play a round of golf. If I want to be entertained with music, I’ll listen to my iPod or go to a concert. If I want to build relationships, Kynette and I will invite someone for dinner. I do not go to church on Sunday mornings for fun or entertainment or to build relationships; I go to worship God with fellow believers.
Our problem is that we have made what are called “worship services” into man-centered events. It’s all about my blessing, my edification, my enjoyment, my fun. Such a view is merely secular humanism cloaked with some Bible and God-talk. In many services, congregations applaud a soloist or the choir for music well sung. And, yes, I’ve heard defenders of applauding in worship say, “We’re giving the Lord a hand.” Or, they’ll point to some Old Testament passage about clapping, providing more evidence of eisegesis run amuck. If you have to point out why you do a practice so that others won’t misunderstand, the practice itself is suspect.
I find such practices as customs to avoid, not imitate. When I gather with God’s people on Sunday morning, I want to be a part of singing that is doctrinally sound and reverent, praying that is God-focused, and preaching that faithfully exposits and applies the Scriptures. Worship, by the very word, is to be God-centered, not man-centered. It is for God’s glory, not for our blessing. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!'” (Psalm 122:1, ESV), not because we’re looking for fun, but because we delight in the Lord.