One of the questions that arises in a Church plant is exactly how much one’s worship should be geared toward evangelism. This is not just a question of worship styles, but also of sermon content (does the preacher assume a certain level of Christian commitment on the part of those in the congregation for example). I have been attempting to walk that line at St. Francis. The following are some articles on the subject that have been helpful.
Touchstone: “Sunday Guests” by Peter Toon
I recall the days when the Salvation Army called the Sunday morning service the “Holiness Meeting” and the evening service “Evangelism Meeting.” That is a careful and workable distinction between a service of worship, edification, and calls unto holiness for believers, and a service to which others were invited with a view to converting them to Jesus Christ. Many churches today, especially those much into “church growth,” have conflated, confused, and complicated the relation of evangelism to worship.
Touchstone: “Guide for the Ceneplexed” by John Parker
The cinema concept was already in place at the church on Sundays: early-morning “traditional” Communion service with no music in the neo-gothic historic chapel, with the celebrant in cassock and surplice; a 9:00 “contemporary” Communion service in the parish hall, complete with praise band and torchiere lighting to set the mood, and the service projected on the wall; a concurrent 9:30 prayer service for children and their families in the old church, with the celebrant only in an alb; an 11:00 traditional Eucharist with full, vested choir in the chapel, with the celebrant in chasuble; and a concurrent free-flowing 11:15 service, which went beyond contemporary, with bands, skits, and so forth, and definitely no vestments. The concept was this: We’ve got something for everyone, and at every standard Sunday morning hour.
From Allelon: “Worship as Evangelism” by Sally Morgenthaler
Two years ago I taught my last seminar focused solely on worship. A year ago I disbanded my worship resource site, Sacramentis. My colleagues were concerned. How could I leave the work I’d begun? Did it mean I no longer believed worship was important? Who was going to take up the torch of worship evangelism? Was I just going to waste my legacy? Was I crazy?
Maybe I was, but a storm had been brewing in my soul for five long years. I remember meeting with the worship leader of a well-known church in the fall of 2000. He had followed my work and respected many of my viewpoints. When we met
over coffee, he shared a concern he’d had for a while over my book Worship Evangelism. In his view, Worship Evangelism had helped to create a “worship-driven subculture.” As he explained it, this subculture was a sizeable part of the contemporary church that had just been waiting for an excuse not to do the hard work of real outreach. An excuse not to get their hands dirty. According to him, that excuse came in the form of a book—my book. He elaborated. “If a contemporary worship service is the best witnessing tool in the box, then why give a rip about what goes on outside the worship
center? If unbelievers are coming through the doors to check us Christians out, and if they’ll fall at Jesus’ feet after they listen to us croon worship songs and watch us sway back and forth, well then, a whole lot of churches are just going to say, ‘Sign us up!’ ”
To be honest, I wasn’t surprised. The attitude he described certainly didn’t fit every congregation out there in contemporary-worship-land, but it matched too much of what I’d seen. The realization hit me in the gut. Between 1995 and
2000 I’d traveled to a host of worship-driven churches, some that openly advertised that they were “a church for the unchurched.” On the good occasions, the worship experience was transporting. (I dug a little deeper when that happened. Invariably, I found another value at work behind the worship production: a strong, consistent presence in the community.) Too many times, I came away with an unnamed, uneasy feeling. Something was not quite right. The worship felt disconnected from real life. Then there were the services when the pathology my friend talked about came right over the platform and hit me in the face. It was unabashed self-absorption, a worship culture that screamed, “It’s all about us” so loudly that I wondered how any visitor could stand to endure the rest of the hour.
Anybody have any other helpful resources?