What can I do to help my Christian friends who consider worship services boring?
James F. Pope
It is wonderful that you want to help your friends view worship properly. I pray that my response will be beneficial to you, your friends, and all who read it.
Know the enemy
Effective military strategy means that military personnel “know the enemy.” That strategy translates into understanding the enemy’s strengths, weaknesses, weaponry, and tactics. “Knowing the enemy” also is important when it comes to our spiritual warfare as Christians. Satan certainly is the chief enemy of our faith, but unfortunately an ally of his resides in each one of us.
Every person is conceived and born with a sinful nature (Psalm 51:5). That nature is “hostile to God” (Romans 8:7). While Christians possess a new self through the converting work of the Holy Spirit, the sinful nature remains. That sinful nature wants nothing to do with God and his Word. While our new selves echo King David’s joy at the thought of worshiping the Lord in his house (Psalm 122:1), our old selves want nothing to do with any of that.
Meet the King
In our worship services, there are exchanges of spoken word and sung response. But when it comes to Christian worship there’s more to it that just the liturgy. In Christian worship we meet our God as he comes to us through his Word and sacrament. Each time we gather for worship, the almighty and all-merciful God speaks to us through his Word. That audience with the King is worthy of our attendance, attention, reverence, and love. In the Lord’s Supper, our risen Savior comes to us in bread and wine to tell us in the most personal way possible that he has forgiven our sins. Through the gospel in Word and sacrament, God nurtures our faith and fortifies us for more faithful Christian living.
In the King’s court we also communicate with him through our prayers and hymns and praises. We confess our sins to him, we praise him for his forgiving love, and we petition him for blessings in our lives and the lives of others. As Christians, our new selves thrill to meet the King again and again.
Encourage the citizens
So what encouragement can you pass along to your friends, citizens of God’s kingdom, who consider worship boring? Thoughts like these come to mind:
• Pray. Encourage your friends to pray before worship, asking that God bless their time with him and also thwart Satan’s efforts in stealing God’s Word from them (Matthew 13:4,19).
• Prepare. Show your friends the value of preparing for worship by looking at the Scripture readings for the day and discovering their connection.
• Participate. Explain to your friends how helpful it can be to examine the sermon text before worship and then follow along with a Bible as the pastor preaches the sermon. Perhaps your friends would benefit by taking notes.
• Ponder. Encourage your friends to find two or three takeaways from the sermon that they can think about during the week.
• Perceive. Help your friends see the mutual encouragement that takes place when Christians gather together for worship (Hebrews 10:25).
May the day of worship be the highlight of the week for all of us!
Contributing editor James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota, is a member at St. John, New Ulm.
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Author: James F. Pope
Volume 104, Number 4
Issue: April 2017
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