Going up against Goliath!
by Lt. Colonel Ramond L. Peacock –
Certainly the boy David learned what a slingshot could do, and he operated it bravely and effectively long before he confronted Goliath. Yet, we dare not forget that David went into battle with much more than target practice under his belt. He went with spiritual power, “a power rooted in his worship relationship with God.” So says Sally Morgenthaler in her book, Worship Evangelism.
Sally goes on to say, “Unfortunately, the evangelical church of the third millennium is not nearly as spiritually prepared to meet its Goliath, whether that be the millions of unbelieving Americans just outside its doors or the millions of barely growing believers who sit passively in the pews each week. In the ’90s we were getting quite good at target practice honing in on the life-styles, habits, wants and needs of particular people. Yet, in our zeal to hit the bulls-eye, we have forgotten that God grows the church through spiritual power. Even the best aim is useless without it.”
Vision and action plans are essential. Personally, I’m glad our vision statement has not left out this power link of worship. Initially, the statement read, “We will be a community.” Some asked, “What kind of a community?” After some debate it was determined we are a “worshipping” community.
One of the outcomes of the visioning process I’d like to see is Salvationists making worship a priority. Most pastors are not trained to lead worship; they are trained to preach. These days preaching and entertainment may crowd out “would-be Davids” who wish to express their devotion to God.
We probably have a certain “fuzziness” regarding what a worship service is in today’s Army. At least our forerunners were clear in defining a holiness service for believers and a salvation service for seekers. Most corps today try to blend elements of both into a Sunday morning “worship service,” without defining what that means.
We have arrived at a moment in time where we define our worship experiences as “traditional,” “contemporary,” “blended,” or in some cases even “cutting edge.” Unfortunately, those who want to worship in the worst way, often do. You can often leave a service grieving over what did not occur. All this because we have no current standard or agreed upon definition of worship.
I believe we need, once again, to define the purpose and biblical parameters of worship. We convene committees for anything and everything. I’m curious to know if there are those in our territory interested in enhancing our worship experiences? We could do worse things than bringing those interested together to discuss and define Salvationists at worship in this new millennium.
If convened, what might such a group explore? The following can certainly be refined and improved, but three areas come initially to mind. The first area to explore is what I call best practices. Where is worship done well? You can usually tell because people go away challenged and satisfied, not frustrated and empty.
A second area that might be explored is current literature on the subject. Besides the aforementioned Worship Evangelism, I would also recommend another book. I refer to Dynamic Worship by my new friend, Dr. Kennon Callahan.
Just one paragraph from Dynamic Worship may whet your appetite for more. “Worship is dynamic when people sense the stirring in their midst. We are lifted to our best, true selves. The future is open before us. The worst of the past is forgiven. The best of the past is treasured, and the best of the present and the future is discovered. In worship at its dynamic best, we genuinely sense our lives being touched, our destinies advanced, our hopes inspired.”
A third area of exploration would, of course, be scripture. There are biblical clues that offer fundamental building blocks for any valid worship experience.
The Territorial Guiding Coalition and territorial leadership are about to deliver goals arising out of our visioning process. These goals have bubbled up from the frontlines and are currently being reviewed and refined and will be shared with everyone come fall. In light of this, I was further challenged by these additional words from Sally Morgenthaler’s book previously mentioned. I quote it to emphasize that before we launch new initiatives, I hope we will connect with the power that will assure their accomplishment.
“True worship is easy to talk about but difficult to come by in the self-made world of church success…
Can we cease our target practice long enough to give God the worship, honor and praise God alone deserves?” Amen!