Connecting God’s People to the Transforming Power of Worship
Church historians note that cycles of spiritual regeneration are typically preceded by a collective yearning for a deeper experience of celebrating and glorifying the Creator and His saving works. While we cannot, from a human perspective, predict when the Holy Spirit will next spark revival fires, declining attendance and apathy toward community outreach paint a bleak picture of the modern church’s condition – despite decades of church growth programs instituted among all the major denominations. A recent national survey revealed a key source of this malaise. Although three-quarters of all adults, and 92% of all churched adults, consider worship as the single most important faith activity, more than 70% disclose they have never truly encountered God in a corporate worship environment.
This unfortunate and startling disconnect is the root cause underlying disaffection and dissatisfaction among today’s believers; which, in turn, inhibits real and effective ministry for and evangelism to a seeking world. As the late theologian, Robert E. Webber, noted, “If you look at worship over the last 30 years, the movement has been primarily about . . . a lot of romantic terminology in contemporary music. This generation thinks that approach is shallow, overly romantic, and not really real. They’re beginning to celebrate God’s holiness, God’s otherness, God’s transcendence.”
It’s a proven adage that success is most likely to occur when preparation and opportunity meet. Although most are presented with a worship opportunity at least weekly, the lack of preparation sets up a certain environment for dissatisfaction. Preparation does not have to be complicated, but to be effective it must be appropriate and intentional. In all traditions, we continue to slog away in worship that lacks specific orthodox content, vigorous and joyful intentionality, or both.
In the early twentieth century two brothers, who had made a modest fortune in the oil business, funded a publishing project they believed would help stem the rising tide of secularism and the lack of Christian education among the general public. Called The Fundamentals, the books defended the basics of the faith – convictions firmly held by Christians today but that were not widely understood at the time. Over three million copies of these books were shipped to churches for local distribution.
Historians point to this single donation as a primary catalyst for the evangelical movement that followed in the ensuing decades. Their vision gave rise to everything from Christian publishing companies and Bible colleges to charismatic and holiness revivals, mission societies, and evangelistic crusades.
Today the church needs believers of similar faith and vision. Since we are on the front-end of a movement that religious scholars and researchers project will be globally significant for generations, the opportunities for growth will be rapid and the long-term impact will be significant.