What is Church For?

I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about church. Not God, or scripture, or prayer, but church. My church, their church, the Church, all the churches. Church culture fascinates me, even when I disagree with it. This fascination has buoyed me through several traditions, through years of studying things like history, art, philosophy, and theology, and led me to a season of working at a church doing some of the on-the-ground stuff that makes ministry happen. So I’ve invested a lot of energy – mental and otherwise – in this aspect of the faith. Which is why I feel okay tackling this question.

There was a season in my life where I was really pissed at the church. I had gone through an evangelical phase that left a weird taste in my mouth, and made me not want to be affiliated with Christianity. I started to come back around in college, but even then, I wasn’t totally on board with the idea of church. It seemed kind of like a useless formality: I was getting an excellent Christian education in school, which was supported by a strong community of peers who loved the Lord. But I went to church anyway and kept going back. It seemed like the right thing to do, even before I understood why. Continue reading →

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Life & Worship: An Introduction

Every week, I attend a “worship” service. I sing songs that are led by a “worship team,” and refer to my handy “worship folder” for lyrics, prayers, etc. The term “worship” has a bit of a buzzword-quality to it. At the very least, it’s a word that is loaded with meaning that we sometimes casually use as a prefix with other words, especially on Sundays.

There’s nothing wrong with affixing the word “worship” onto the names of the various aspects surrounding a church service – it’s helpful and pretty harmless. However, sometimes I wonder if it conveys the idea that worship only happens on Sundays. While Sundays are definitely sacred, worship can and should happen all the time, in everyday life.

This is what worship looks like. Except not really.

This is what worship looks like. Except not really.

Throughout Easter, I’ll be sharing a series of posts about life and worship, focusing on four topics: work, leisure, rest, and seasons. For now, I’m going to lay a little groundwork, in an effort to ensure that we’re all on the same page.

Full disclosure: these posts could stray into apologetics-territory. Part of why I’m interested in this topic is my desire to defend why I think it’s okay to go to happy hour instead of prayer meetings, why, in addition to the Bible, it’s okay to read anything from Socrates to Stephen King, and why Christians can be legitimately called into things other than ministry (and not just so that they can evangelize to the other doctors, teachers, baristas, etc.). Sorry if I get defensive – this is something that I care deeply about, and I think it’s one of the great things about following a Lord who is Risen.

This Risen Lord is worth our devotion, i.e., our worship. What I’m interested in here what worship looks like – what are the actions associated with it? The sacred activities that transpire in churches on Sundays is a start (and I’d argue that it’s non-negotiable for Christians). But it doesn’t end with the benediction.

Worship starts with recognizing who God is and who we are in relation to Him. This can mean a lot of things, but most basically, it means that 1) He is God, 2) we are human, and 3) we were made in His image.

It’s no simple task, being God’s image-bearer. Because He made us like Himself, God has certain expectations for us. We should be reasonable. We should be  creative and productive. We should exist in community. Amongst other things. Meeting these expectations is the very beginning of worship. Being human is the very beginning of worship, and I think worship is deeply connected to our personhood.

Worship is participating in human activities in a way that glorifies God. When we act like people, especially good people, we are worshipping. What happens in churches is deeply humanizing, but so is what happens in kitchens, classrooms, and coffee shops. I’m excited to further explore this notion in the coming weeks.