Hymns or choruses? Higher liturgy or cost-free-flowing? Electric or acoustic? Modern or standard? Energetic or reflective? These worship concerns have brought on the fracture of a lot of churches, and the battles fought have left a lot of wounded and disenchanted with ministry. They are also concerns which I do not address in my initially book, The Divine Commodity. Apparently there is an excerpt from my initially book, The Divine Commodity, floating about the net from which men and women have incorrectly concluding that I favor a distinct style of worship more than an additional, or that I am somehow anti-modern worship or would judge a single style as “wrong.” The incredibly concept that a style or worship can be incorrect is funny to commence with. That is like saying the Spanish language is superior at communicating a mother’s adore than Japanese. The misunderstanding most likely arose from out-of-context remarks in the book about the rise of “meticulously controlled staged environments” as a signifies of advancing Christ’s mission. When we think external experiences are how lives are fundamentally transformed, I argued, it necessitates a dramatic adjust in the pastor’s part. The pastor was initially noticed as a shepherd tending Christ’s flock, but now the part conjures pictures of a circus ringmaster shouting, “Come a single, come all, to the greatest show on earth!” When Christianity succumbs to Consumerism the shepherd becomes a showman. For these who’ve not study The Divine Commodity, and who may perhaps have noticed it quoted about the net, let me clarify my thoughts on worship a bit. Initially, I am not anti-attractional church. I recognize that we are each sent on mission and that God has produced us to be a light that attracts the focus of a lost and broken planet. Our gatherings really should also embody each of these components. Immediately after all, what could possibly be a lot more appealing than the beauty of our God, the resurrection of his Son, and the Fantastic News he has announced to the cosmos? Secondly, I’d like to provide some context to the excerpt that is currently been posted elsewhere. The examples of modern “entertainment-driven” worship cited in chapter four of The Divine Commodity are followed quickly by this sentence: “To be fair, there is nothing at all new or revolutionary about entertainment-driven worship. American Christianity, going back to the 19th Century revivals of Charles Finney, has employed staged experiences as a tool of spiritual transformation” (web page 75). This statement beings a 500 word segment about the use of music and overall performance in churches dating back to the 1830s to attain the lost. And I do not know any individual who would contact the worship designs employed by Dwight Moody, Billy Sunday, or Charles Finney “contemporary” as that word is at the moment understood. In other words, the chapter is not critiquing modern style worship, but rather the extensively held assumption that external experiences (what ever their style) outcome in lasting transformation. This belief is just as probably to be identified in a Roman Catholic church with a higher mass as a modern megachurch with a worship band. Ultimately, once more for the sake of context, right here is a longer excerpt from chapter four that really should clarify a lot more completely the problem at hand. Coming down the mountain In 1515, Michelangelo completed a sculpture of Moses. The marble figure depicts an old but incredibly muscular Moses seated with the Ten Commandments beneath his arm and a billowing beard. But vacationers are typically shocked to see what seem to be horns protruding from Moses’ head. The figure appears a lot more like the Devil than Israel’s deliverer. The presence of horns on Michelangelo’s Moses can be traced to a mistranslation of the Bible in the fiveth Century. The story from Exodus 34 says that soon after meeting with the Lord on Mount Sinai, Moses came down the mountain with the Ten Commandments. When the men and women saw him they had been afraid mainly because, “the skin of his face shone.” It appears standing in God’s glory somehow transfigured Moses’ look. His face was actually radiant. The Hebrew word refers to a beam or ray of light. But when St. Jerome converted the ancient Scriptures into Latin he mistranslated the word as “horns.” So, when Michelangelo study his Bible he believed the men and women had been frightened by Moses’ look mainly because he had grown horns whilst meeting with God on the mountain. St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, had been utilised for almost 1,000 years just before Michelangelo’s sculpture was produced. The erroneously-horned Moses reminds us that questioning common assumptions is crucial. But however Moses’ encounter with God on the mountain is nonetheless extensively misunderstood, and largely unquestioned, these days. We no longer foolishly depict Moses with horns, but our misunderstanding of his mountaintop encounter is nonetheless embarrassingly displayed each and every Sunday. In Exodus 34 we are told that Moses covered his face with a veil so that the men and women would not be frightened by his look. In truth, according to the Apostle Paul in the New Testament, Moses covered himself with a veil so the men and women couldn’t see that the glory was fading away. What ever transformation Moses seasoned in God’s presence on the mountain was short-term, and the veil hid the transient nature of this glory from the men and women. His mountaintop encounter was genuine, glorious, and complete of God’s presence-but it did not bring lasting transformation. This is the essential portion of the story we appear to have forgotten. Moses’ encounter is all also widespread amongst Christians these days. By means of the influence of our customer culture we’ve come to think that transformation is attained via external experiences. And, as we’ve currently noticed, a lot of churches have engineered their ministries to manufacture these experiences for crowds of religious customers. We’ve come to regard our church buildings, with their multi-media theatrical gear, as mountaintops exactly where God’s glory may perhaps be encountered. One particular pastor, explaining why his church opened an additional place across town, mentioned “We decided, if you can not get the men and women to the mountain, bring the mountain to the men and women.” Ascending the mountain each and every Sunday morning, millions of Christians want to have an encounter with God and this is precisely what churches guarantee. And not disappointed, a lot of leave these experiences with a sense of transformation or inspiration. They really feel “pumped up,” “fed,” or “on fire for the Lord.” No doubt a lot of men and women, like Moses, have genuine experiences of God via these events. Other people may perhaps basically be carried along by the music, crowd, and power of the space. No matter if a outcome of God or group, what is beyond query is that a lot of men and women depart feeling spiritually rejuvenated and capable of taking on life for an additional six days. The trouble with these external experiences, as Moses found, is that the transformation does not final. In a handful of days time, or perhaps as early as lunch on Sunday, the glory starts to fade. The mountaintop encounter with God, the occasion you had been specific would adjust your life forever, turns out to be an additional fleeting spiritual higher. And to hide the lack of genuine transformation we mask the inglorious truth of our lives behind a veil, a façade of Christian piety, till we can ascend the mountain once more and be recharged. This philosophy of spiritual formation via the consumption of external experiences creates worship junkies-Christians who leap from a single mountaintop to an additional, a single spiritual higher to an additional, in search of a glory that does not fade. In response, churches and Christian conferences are driven to develop ever-grander experiences and a lot more elaborate productions to satisfy expectations. Ironically, these worship spectacles, according to Sally Morgenthaler, are failing to make actual worshippers. She writes:
We are not making worshippers in this nation. Rather we are making a generation of spectators, religious onlookers lacking, in a lot of instances, any memory of a accurate encounter with God, deprived of each the tangible sense of God’s presence and the supernatural partnership their inmost spirits crave.
Ministries that concentrate on manufacturing spiritual experiences, regardless of their laudable intentions, may perhaps in fact be retarding spiritual development by producing men and women encounter-dependent. Like caged animals, customer Christians shed the potential to do what they had been developed by God to do-have a vibrant self-creating partnership with Christ. Rather, they come to be dependent upon their zookeepers for life and nourishment. This captive/captor partnership is unlikely to adjust as lengthy as each the church member and leader are happy with the arrangement. But is this what the Christian life is supposed to be? What about the tangible sense of God’s presence we crave in our inmost spirits that Morgenthaler writes about? In the New Testament, Jesus and his Apostles do not emphasize external experiences as the signifies of encountering God. Rather, the concentrate is upon a mysterious communion with God produced doable via the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Contrasting the fading glory that Moses seasoned on Sinai, the Apostle Paul says that we are getting transformed “from a single degree of glory to an additional,” and that this comes from the Spirit. This transformation is not from the outdoors operating in, but from the inside operating out. What Jesus spoke of in John four has come to pass. We no longer worship the Father on a mountain nor in Jerusalem, but in spirit and truth. To encounter the glory of God no longer need ascending a mountain, but understanding to embrace a divine mystery-“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” When we anticipate transformation to take place via external experiences we are opting for an inferior model of spiritual formation. As a outcome, a lot of customer churches have inadvertently dismissed the new covenant in Christ and returned to the shadows of the old covenant-developing temples and climbing mountains to catch glimpses of a fading glory. The explanation for this regression is uncomplicated-New Testament spirituality, correctly understood, is immune to the forces of consumerism. An internal communion with God via the Spirit can’t be packaged, commoditized, and marketed to religious customers. It can’t be bundled, branded, or place on show to draw a crowd. We really should be cautious to not assume worship gatherings are the trouble. The early Christians gathered consistently for worship, and the writer of Hebrews even commands his readers to not neglect meeting collectively as some had been in the habit of undertaking. The trouble is not our gatherings, but what we anticipate from them. If corporate worship is an external show of an internal reality, the glory of Christ that abides inside, then these gatherings will not be complete of passive spectators. These events will be exactly where Christians collect to show a watching planet the continual worship that marks their lives-no matter if it is celebratory, reflective, or even repentant. Nevertheless, if men and women have no sustainable communion with Christ via his indwelling Spirit, they will come to worship looking for a short-term filling a transient dose of glory to carry them along. And rather than reflecting the complete spectrum of the human-divine partnership as revealed in Scripture (specifically the Psalms), these gatherings will fixate on only a single element-the celebratory. More than time as the familiar encounter provides a diminishing return, religious customers will either demand a lot more power via innovation, or they will shift to an additional church searching for a “new” encounter. They will be drawn by promises of transformation and a genuine encounter with God, but we should ask no matter if men and women leave these experiences radiating the unfading glory of the Lord, or merely sprouting the horns of consumerism.
Excerpted from The Divine Commodity (Zondervan 2009)© Skye Jethani