The Emergent Church’s creative and asthetic attempts to help people worship call us to ask how we can best enjoy God as gathered congregations. If we don’t learn anything else from the Emergent Church, I hope that many churches will be spurred to examine the service of worship that they have cultivated.
Ultimately, the issue is not atmosphere, form, and style. The issue is knowing and experiencing God.
I have been to too many worship services in churches that claim to believe that God is revealed in the Bible, but they barely have any Scripture in the worship service before the sermon (if they have Scripture in the sermon). This seems simple to me, but I’ll spell out the logic anyway:
God reveals himself in the Bible.
Worship is our response to God’s revelation of himself.
Doesn’t a natural deduction from these two premises present itself?
If we want to worship, won’t we seek to exalt God by relating what he has revealed of himself in the Bible?
Let’s use Bible in our call to worship. Let’s read a passage from the OT before we sing, then sing something with vigor that has biblical and theological conten, then read another passage from the NT, then sing some more.
I suspect that one reason many “worship services” are not very worshipful is that they don’t have much Bible in them. Too many churches substitute comedy, personality, and warm fuzzy for the revelation of God in the written word of Scripture. The result is that people may feel good about themselves, but they have not encountered God.
You don’t have to be Emergent, and you don’t have to be Shakespearean (see below), but if you are a Christian who wants to worship God, you do have to be biblical.