Eugene Peterson on Why We Worship Together

DSC_0381 For many in the church today, worship has become entertainment – just one other thing to consume (or not) as we live in the land of endless variety. We have forgotten how to enter the presence of God. We talk about how awesome the praise band was, how good the choir sounded – or, we complain that the band wasn't upbeat enough or the service just didn't do anything for you or the preacher was boring, or too long, or didn't use enough stories. I don't think that worship should be boring, but I also don't think that we should be entertained. There is a difference between significance, high drama, meaning and entertainment.

Eugene Peterson in Practice Resurrection talks about what happens when we worship together.

Common worship, that is, corporate worship (worship 'in common'), gives the basic form and provides the essential content for this aspect of 'growing up' to the 'full stature of Christ.' Private worship while alone in semi-paralysis before a TV screen is not mature worship. Certainly we can worship in solitary. Some of our richest moments of worship will come while strolling on a beach or wondering in a garden or perched on a mountain peak. What we must not do is deliberately exclude others from our worship or worship selectively with like-minded friends. These are not options on offer in Ephesians. Maturity develops in worship as we develop in friendship with the friends of God, not just our preferred friends. Worship shapes us not onlhy individually but as a community, a church. If we are going to grow up into Christ we have to do it in the company of everyone who is responding to the call of God. Whether we happen to like them or not has nothing to do with it.

We are to join in friendship with the friends of God - not just our friends or the people that we personally like. This is key. We often make our choices about church or worship based on who is going to be there or if we think ahead of time that we will get something out of it.  That is faithlessness. The real question is, "Will God be there? Will He meet with me?  Can He speak through His people, assembled together from the ranks of the riff-raff and the unimpressive and the ranks of the least and last?"  Do we believe that God can do something beyond what we can ask, think, or imagine even if we don't expect it? 

In worship, we come to meet with God and God can do anything. When we come together in faith, He shapes us and forms us. Entertainment cheapens this and actually can push us further away from God because we are distracted by things that ultimately do not feed our soul.

2 Responses to Eugene Peterson on Why We Worship Together

  1. and yet long ago, some Christian people left liturgical worship for many reasons that seemed right to them at that time . . .
    but it sounds like you are longing for something ‘new’ in communal worship
    but I think what you long for may have its ‘roots’ in a more ancient form of praying
    remember . . . ‘the Body of Christ’ includes all who have ever worshiped ‘in Him’ or will come to worship ‘in Him’,
    so don’t be hesitant to revisit the ways of prayer of the old Christians for ideas
    you may find something yet of meaning there, as they did long ago

  2. I am just looking for a higher value on meeting with God than being entertained or having something that meets my perceived needs. The older I get, the more that I look for something solid. I don’t necessarily think that it is found only in liturgy, although I understand the draw.
    And, I agree. There is much to say for the ways of the Christians of old.