Theses on Worship: Part I

My own views on worship have shifted dramatically from my younger days. The book that started me thinking more biblically about worship was James Jordan’s Theses on Worship. Jordan gets into your face and under your skin and forces you to reevaluate what worship is.   I wanted to quote several of Jordan’s theses here my blog. My hope is to introduce his ideas. Here are the first two theses from the book followed by some of his comments under that section.

1. God’s house is a house of prayer
“The Lord’s Day meeting of the Church is for prayer first and foremost.  It is not for evangelism. It is not [for] entertainment.  It is not for miracle, mystery or morality plays. It is not for an organ recital or a rock concert. It is not for intensive instruction.  It is for prayer.”

2. The faithful worship of the true God does not come naturally to fallen man.
“It is pervasively assumed today that worship is easy, and that it should be easy.  There should not be anything hard about it.  It should be easy to learn and easy to do. Says who…It takes practice to learn to dance. It takes practice to play the piano.  It takes practice to learn to ride a bicycle. It takes practice to learn to tie your shoes.  But when it comes to worship, what we hear is, ‘No, no!  May it never be! Worship must be easy.’  What insanity is this?

A stranger comes to Church and says, ‘My goodness. I don’t know any of these psalms.  I don’t know when to stand and when to kneel and when to sit. I’m confused. I’m out of step. I don’t feel like I belong here.’ Well, what do we say?  ‘Aw gee, we’re so sorry.  We’ll just take out all the beauty and form of worship and we won’t do anything that you in your total ignorance won’t appreciate.’ Yes that’s what the modern conservative, evangelical Church says.

But that is not what we should be saying.  What we should say is this: ‘That’s right.  Worship is an art, something beautiful done before God’s throne for His glory.  We had to learn how to do it, and if you come into the Church, we’ll teach you how as well. Anything that is good and wonderful takes effort, and our worship is not something we do sloppily and with backs of our hands.  Worship is something we cultivate, and it takes practice and patience to learn it.’ That is what we should say, and if we loved men, it is what we would say.  After all…true worship is good for men; while sloppy worship is destructive.”