Sunday, July 24, 2011

who is the seeker

From Gary Parrett's 9.5 Theses on Worship, thesis 9; The Seeker that we must serve in our worship services is, first and foremost, God himself.

One of the more obvious "worship trends" in the past three decades has been the emergence of "seeker services." In some instances, these have been Sunday services totally redesigned with "seekers" in view. Surely being "seeker friendly" is a better option than being "seeker hostile" or "seeker indifferent," as too many congregations seem to be. But there are problems.

For one thing, while attempting to reach the unchurched, churches may actually be "unchurching the churched" (as Michael Horton argues) or otherwise "dumbing down" for the sake of evangelism (as Marva Dawn puts it). I know of a church, for example, that has printed the Scripture text in the bulletin or projected it on screen each week for the seekers who might be attending without a Bible in hand. An unintended consequence, however, has been that the believers have stopped bringing their Bibles and the sound of pages rustling as the saints move from passage to passage during the sermon is seldom heard.

The more significant issue is that our worship services should not be people-centered at all, but be first and foremost for and about our awesome God. This should affect our music and hymnody as well as every other aspect of the service. Our emphasis should be on content that serves the rhythm of revelation and response, not on pleasing guests with particular musical or stylistic choices. Worship should not be designed to suit unbelievers' tastes; nor should we shape it to suit our own. We are to worship God according to his requirements and for his own sake.

The good news, however, is that when we do so, we find that other wonders follow: The saints are well formed and unbelievers who may be present in the assembly are challenged by the presence of the living God. The fact is, we cannot outdo God in serving seekers, for he is the first and truest Seeker of all. There is no one who seeks God (Rom. 3:11). But from his asking, "Where are you?" in the Garden (Gen. 3:9), to seeking worshipers who will worship him in spirit and truth (John 4:24), to sending his only Son "to seek and save what was lost" (Luke 19:10), our God is the great Seeker of lost sheep. When he is first in the formation and conduct of our public worship, much good will surely follow.

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