by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/26/17.
A biblical theology of worship.
Churches often want blended worship services because they seek to create cross-cultural understanding and unity. But, while earning my PhD in intercultural studies at Fuller Sem., I came to believe a Biblical theology of worship does not include creating unity.
Do we try to make worship do too much?
Because we feel we only have people for 1 hour on Sunday morning, we cram too much into that one hour. That one hour becomes announcement time, unity-building time and worship time. If that is the case we should call it the “Communication – Unity– Worship Hour” 😉
My goal is to get back to a biblical theology of worship which includes encounter, more than unity. Theologically I think that unity and encounter are mutually exclusive (see the excerpt from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (2013, below).
Sharing our homes & lives creates more unity
If you’re there to encounter God, you’re not going to spend time encountering your neighbor. Jesus created unity usually over meals.
Thus, I would suggest that sharing our homes and our lives creates more unity than sharing a pew.
Here are some thoughts I’ve written with more detail in The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (2013).
“… the Hebrew word for “worship” implies God-directed, not neighbor-directed reconciliation.(Footnote 1)” p. 64
(Footnote 1) The Hebrew word for “worship” means to come close to God’s majesty and adore Him. It carries the idea of reverence, respect and praise that results from a close encounter with a king, see Francis Brown, S. R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament Based Upon the Lexicon of William Gesenius (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1974), p. 1005. Thus, worship should not be about fellowship (the New Testament Christians had meals for that), but rather worship was to be about personal communing with God. This reminds us that worship should be about connecting with God and not about creating friendships among people (we have time before and after “worship” for getting to know one another in “fellowship” halls and in common areas). Making worship into a fellowship among humans, robs its place as the supernatural intersection between humans with their heavenly Father. We shall discuss the Multicultural Blended Model shortly, but I have noticed in most blended models I have attended, that supernatural connection is not the focus or their aim, but rather unity is the objective. While the later goal (unity) is needed, it should not be attained at the expense of worship which is primarily intended as a environment in which to connect with God. p. 158