It seems to me that most current worship/arts folks define "Christian worship" very broadly and typically without any inclusion of the Lord's Supper…. This kind of worship might be something, but it does not appear to be distinctly Christian... Is the proclamation of the Lord's death and resurrection by the means which God ordained, the Lord’s Table, the focal point of our worship or do we worship according to our preferences? Seems as though we’ve made other things “sacramental” (music/preaching) and redefined Christian worship apart from its distinctiveness.- - - -
Wow, what a juicy post Josh! I was actually going to bed early until I read this post… now I feel like I can’t sleep until I think through a response! You have some great thoughts that I find very challenging.
Outside of my childhood involvement in main-line church denominations, I have never been in a church that observed communion weekly. It is interesting thinking about the fact that the more “Evangelical” I became, the less emphasis I experienced being put upon the Lord’s Table. All this to say that I am not sure that, “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup…” necessarily specifies a frequency requirement for the gathered church (1 Cor 11:26). So, even though pre-Reformation communion was likely observed weekly, since the Reformation, Evangelicals have obviously taken a much looser view on the frequency requirements of this ordinance (e.g. some quarterly, some monthly, some twice a month, etc…). Consequently, an argument for the weekly observance of the Lord’s Table is grounded more in historical and not Biblical observations.
So have modern “worship/arts” ministries left out a very central component of the gathered church in worship? Maybe. I certainly find it very interesting that the importance of creeds, baptism, communion, and other liturgical elements are being seen as favorable among new generations of believers and unbelievers alike. In defense of all those who work and serve in arts ministries around the world, I think the primary reason they classify their ministries as “dance, drama, music, media, etc…” is because they see these areas as the “how”, not the “what.” In other words, the “what” is music, prayer, scripture, preaching, communion, baptism, etc… and the “how” is the creative means by which the “what” is supported and or presented.
I do also take you to task on the issue you raised in regard to preaching (for some reason this has been a hot-button for me lately). I think the scriptures make preaching a central means of grace in the worship service. This can be seen in Rom 10:14-17 and all throughout the NT starting with Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2:14-41. Now I do understand that much of the preaching we observe post-gospels was not done in the context of a believers gathering; however, I think the NT clearly models God’s central use of the spoken word within the gathering as a means to teach the scriptures and share the gospel. (NOTE: Depending on your doctrinal view of the church, one could argue that Jesus regularly preached to the church as he gathered Jewish believers around him and taught. Did he sing in his gatherings? Likely. We at least know he did it following the last supper with his disciples in Mk 14:26.)
In closing, there is no ordained “order of service” or “liturgy” within the entirety of the NT. Is God’s word vague because He desires us to keep asking, “how did the early church do it?” Should we use the historical texts and archeological evidence to mold and shape our gatherings to become more identical with early Christendom? For the most part, my answer would be "I don't think so." If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard people say that house churches are more Biblical than churches that meet within church buildings!! We’ve got to be very careful to not become enslaved to historical context to the point that we restrict the freedoms granted us by God in His Word.
In closing, I have been thinking A LOT about what Biblical worship should look like and I have been somewhat troubled by what worship in the church (international/visible) has become. Posts like this keep me searching the Word and praying over what God is calling the Worship and Arts ministry at Parkview to do in order to better proclaim the glory of God to the lost, hurting, and hopeless within this world. Thanks for the challenge Josh!