The Way Worship is Experienced
Stetzer and Putman discuss worship in context and note that there were times in Scripture when worship was conducted in a public forum where large groups of nonbelievers were engaged (Acts 2-3). With this in mind, many churches see the purpose of their worship gatherings as a place and time where they can create a safe environment for both believers and seekers to experience life change. This happens when the worship gathering takes on a form and expression that is familiar to the cultural group.
Churches that break the codes recognize this and are served by asking questions like these:
- Is the setting inviting and familiar?
- Are those attending and participating familiar with music?
- Can those attending and participating relate to the communication style of the preacher/teacher?
- Is the Bible being taught in a way that people can experience and grasp the message?
- Is the language used understandable and true to biblical content?
- Is the way in which people are invited to participate in truth clear and engaging?
- Is there enough tension created to cause people to move forward in faith?
- Does the creativity used connect with those attending and participating?
We are talking about not only getting people to say yes to some propositional truth, but we are talking about leading people to change their worldview. We need to be totally committed to reaching out to disconnected people.
The way we should engage people in a meaningful way is radically different. It is a shift to journey.
This assumes some very important things, such as:
- Trusting God to be at work in the lives of lost people.
- Building relationships with all kinds of people and valuing who they are.
- Listening and learning where God is already at work in their lives.
- Praying that God will reveal to you and give you words to share with others on their journey.
It seems that the longer individuals took to finally go public with their faith, the less likely they were to fall through the cracks or go out the back door.
A note from a recently returned missionary to Malaysia – in the culture from which he had just returned, when someone experienced conversion, they were already firmly grounded in Scripture, often engaged in community, and usually involved in some kind of service within the church. Discipleship was a journey that took place while participating in the local community of faith.
As believers recognize that they are missionaries, they will find more and more ways of engaging those outside the church in authentic relationships.
Churches that understand the discipleship process are also proactive about creating strategic and specific experiences for those who are on the journey. Worship gatherings are designed to create space where people can experience God and progress at their own pace.
Discipleship often involves participation in service prior to conversion.
Yet, churches that “break the code” are serious about conversion and make a big deal about people going public with their faith.