Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Probably No Need for God?

I was unfortunate enough to read Kevin DeYoung's twitter from the "Gospel Coalition" on my Twitter feed and it (to put it mildly) irked me. He wrote a thought-provoking post called "It's Probably Not the Worship Style". A liberal church leader had asked his thoughts about whether his church was not growing because they had an organ - and should they upgrade their music styles. DeYoung, I think rightly, puts music style in it's place.

Guitars and drums do NOT equal charismatic worship. They also do NOT guarantee church growth (necessarily). And they do NOT guarantee the Presence of God necessarily.

So DeYoung shared some thoughts in the guise of questions that he clearly thinks WILL grow churches. Questions he calls "harder and deeper". Here they are;

"Is the gospel faithful preached?
Is the Bible taught with clarity and passion?
Are the sermons manifestly rooted in a text of Scripture?
Do the elders/pastors and deacons meet the qualifications for church office laid out in the New Testament?
Are the sacraments faithfully administered and protected?
Is church discipline practiced?
Do the elders exercise personal care over the flock?
Are there good relationships among the staff and other leaders?
Is the worship service put together thoughtfully and carried out with undistracting excellence (as much as possible).
Do the people in the congregation sing the songs with gusto or are they going through the motions?
Is a high bar set for church membership?
Are the people of the church engaged in personal ministry?
Is the congregation marked by increasing prayer and evangelism?
Do the pastors believe in the complete trustworthiness of all of Scripture?
Do they take adequate time for study and preparation?
Do they truly believe and eagerly rejoice in their church’s/denomination’s statement of faith, creeds, and confessions?
Are their lives examples of personal holiness?".

Notice anything? What occurred to me was the fact that none of these questions require the manifest Presence of God by His Spirit moving on the congregation (Ephesians 2:22). None of these questions will make non-believers fall down and say "God is truly among you!" (1 Corinthians 14:25). The only question related to worship asks whether the congregation is singing "gustily". Terry Virgo writes in his new book; "The Spirit-Filled Church";

"We are coming to meet God, and therefore we should anticipate we meet with God, anything less is merely being religious".

R T Kendall warned in his book; "The Sensitivity of the Spirit" that;

"If the Holy Spirit left your church today, you'd probably carry on worshipping as if nothing happened".

I think I can appreciate DeYoung's aim in writing like this but to me it seems the whole point of church has been missed. Preaching of course is vital - we need to enjoy the Ephesians 4 Ministries God has given His church and come to learn more from His Word. Worship should be far more than simply "sung gustily". Otherwise are we really any different than a secular concert? I sing gustily along with some of my favourite celebrity popstars if I go to their concerts! Of course we need good relationships - but why are we any different to social clubs? And church discipline? If God's Presence was really among His people in power - as in the book of Acts - "great fear" was present among the people because they knew they worshipped a real, interventionist, holy and loving God.

DeYoung asks first of all; "Is the gospel faithfully preached?". But let us not forget the Word of God itself - and the true gospel;

" ... for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" - (1 Thessalonians 1:5 - NASB).

1 comment:

Dan Bowen said...

I re-read the DeYoung article post and I'm so glad some brave souls have left comments stating exactly what my concerns where! This isn't a "charismatic/non-charismatic" issue and I am not talking about the gift of tongues or prophecy.

I'm talking about the Presence of God manifest in HIS Body! Here's one comment from the blog I particularly liked;


Great article Kevin and a lot of great points. I do believe that Rose hit the nail on the head with her comment about the Holy Spirit. The presence of God is the WHOLE point. If God isn’t present in our church we need to repent and invite him back!!!! He is the one who will draw attendee’s. If we try to make it about liturgy, or tradition, or style or anything else it is merely fumbling around in foolishness. Make the main thing, the main thing- everything else will flow from that. If the book of Acts was a series of debates between Paul and Peter about music styles and liturgy, I’m quite sure it would be a much different book. The thing that made the church explode was the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s it. Love you brother, keep on writing for our Father the King!!!