Are Our Worship Services For Saints Or For Seekers?

When we gather together with the church this Sunday, who is our meeting for?? Is it primarily for us who believe – to build us up in our faith?? Or is it for unbelievers, to proclaim the gospel and reach out to them?

Obviously, our meetings are first and foremost for God. For his pleasure and glory.

They are also for believers.? For our delight and upbuilding in Christ.? Colossians 3:16 says we’re to let the Word of Christ dwell richly among us as we sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to each other.

But what about the unbelievers who join us?? Should we design our services entirely with the unsaved in mind as some seeker-oriented services do?? Or just for the saints?? Our services are for BOTH.? ALL.? BELIEVERS AND UNBELIEVERS.

Bryan Chapell says:

Being entirely “seeker-oriented” is not really an option for Christ-centered worship. But being “seeker-sensitive” is still an appropriate way to think about worship. Being “seeker-sensitive” is not the same as being “seeker-oriented.” ?We should remember that in the history of the church…there have always been three groups to consider in the planning of worship: the communicants (adult believers), catechumens (children and adult converts learning the faith), and seekers (those examining whether they will claim the truths of the gospel). The apostle Paul charges the church to be sensitive to the needs of seekers…They are not the focus of the church’s worship, but the church is not to plan its worship without their needs in view (1 Cor. 14:23-25). — Christ-Centered Worship

Our goal should be to seek to sing songs that resonate with believers and plainly reveal Christ to unbelievers.? To preach the Word to both believers and unbelievers.? To appeal to both.? To avoid “Christianese” that makes no sense to those without a Christian vocabulary.? To use music unbelievers can relate to, while highlighting the truth we’re singing.

I’m so glad unbelievers come to our church.? I’m so glad the folks in our church welcome and reach out to them.? I’m so glad people can come in wearing jeans or suits and feel comfortable.? I’m glad we play songs full of truth in contemporary styles and hymns as well.? I love it when I hear a message that mentions both Tom Brady and the Apostle Paul.

The gospel is for all – believers and unbelievers.? We who believe need to be regularly reminded of all God’s done for us; unbelievers need to hear about God’s love for them and the salvation he offers.? So this Sunday seek to build up and encourage your brothers and sisters, and extend Jesus’ love to as many new people as you can.

……

photo by bpbp Brian Petersen

Comments

  1. Adam says

    Mark, this is really helpful in understanding how our church is organized. I’d really like to hear more about the discussion on church being for God’s glory primarily. Do you have a post in the archives about that?

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Hey Adam, thanks. I don't think I have any posts in the archives about that. But in general, all God does is for the display of his glory. I can think of a few verses:

      [6] I will say to the north, Give up,
      and to the south, Do not withhold;
      bring my sons from afar
      and my daughters from the end of the earth,
      (Isaiah 43:6; Isaiah 43:7 ESV)
      [7] everyone who is called by my name,
      whom I created for my glory,
      whom I formed and made.”
      (Isaiah 43:6-7 ESV)

      Or this one: But you are a chosen race, a royal bpriesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Pe 1.9)

      In Desiring God, John Piper presents the Biblical evidence that all God does is for his glory.

      When the church gathers together, we do so to enjoy God and proclaim his praises and gospel and love each other – all of which brings him glory.

      That's a few quick thoughts. Sorry I don't have something a little more thought out.

  2. C.J. McMurry says

    Great word Mark! I was really struggling in this area a few months ago. My wife and I were inviting friends and family members to our church and it didn’t seem as if The Word being preached was impacting them at all! And even though I knew that in order for anyone to truly understand the things of God it takes a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. One thing is for sure, it wasn’t due to any lack in our worship or preaching at our Church. I think this is why I was so frustrated, knowing the good, solid theology being taught through our songs and our sermons I just didn’t get it. Then I was reminded of the words from 1 Corinthians 1:18. So we will continue inviting people into our home and to our Church where they can see and hear The Word of God and HIS awesome wonders and we’ll leave the results up to our Sovereign God! Thanks for the encouraging word this morning!

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Excellent CJ! You are so right – the Holy Spirit must open their eyes and hearts. And he does that through the preaching of the gospel. I believe God will honor your efforts so keep inviting them! I believe that bringing folks to church is one of the best means of evangelism we have available. Thanks for your comments!

      • C.J. McMurry says

        You’re welcome Mark. And thank you and everyone else involved in this blog. It has been a huge blessing to my family and our Church here in Earlham IA.

        • Mark Altrogge says

          We are grateful that you would even read our blog and that you would be encouraged by it. Thanks so much for your kind words, CJ!

  3. photini says

    Historically, and still used in the Orthodox church, the first part of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (from the late 4th very early 5th century) is prayers, singing psalms, reading the Scriptures. That is for everyone. Then there are more prayers followed by "Let all catechumens depart, let no catechumens remain, let us the faithful again and again in peace pray unto the Lord." This part of the service is called the Liturgy of the Catechumens. (In modern times, the catechumens do not depart, but remain for the entire service although they do not take communion) The second part of the service is called the Liturgy of the Faithful. This part of the service has more prayers, more hymns, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and communion. Different Orthodox churches may put the sermon in different places. It may come right after the scripture (everyone is there) or after communion (only the "faithful" are there). And in churches where the sermon is normally in the middle, the priest may change it to the end of the service for various reasons.

    So, even in the early church, the Gospel was heard by all. The sermon may have been addressed to all or only to "the faithful" (believers). Those who were not believers were not asked to say things they might not believe (the Creed, a prayer to "Our Father"). And only the faithful believers were present for communion – non-believers were not tempted to take something they didn't understand and eat and drink to their own condemnation (1 Corinthians 11:29). All in all, not a bad plan.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Bryan Chapell in Christ-centered Worship covers some of the same stuff ? interesting how the church tried to think through all this stuff over the ages.

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