worship evangelism :: seeds, soil, and heat lamps

February 9, 2011

The Gospel is the seed.  Their heart is the soil.  A congregation openly adoring God with freedom… that’s the heat lamp.

There is a discussion going on in the Church about the “power of worship.”  Some churches staunchly stand on the preaching of the Word of God being the central focal point of every worship service.  Other churches believe that it is often in times of corporate worship when God moves among His people most visibly in supernatural power.  Some churches intentionally pull back from much corporate worship in a setting where evangelism is the goal.  But the idea that worship is isolating or alienating for the unbeliever is being reexamined… and reexamined again.

My good friend Dallas Jenkins (Film-maker, director of Midnight Clear, and more recently, What If) recently produced a video story for Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, where Andi Rozier is an Associate Pastor of Worship.  If you’ve got eight minutes, this is a powerful example of worship and the Gospel at work together to change a life. Depending on your theological background, that statement could fall anywhere on the scale from “obviously true” to “dangerously misguided.”  Watch this, and I’ll follow up with a few thoughts…

My thoughts…

(1)  I believe in “Worship Evangelism.” In a nutshell, it is a belief that as unbelievers encounter and experience worshippers of Jesus Christ adoring Him with honesty and freedom, they will see and experience the nearness of God, alive and interacting with His people.  If you really want to flesh this idea out and explore it deeply, I’d encourage you to find and read “Worship Evangelism”(1995) by Sally Morgenthaler.  Although Jesus makes it clear in John 4 that unbelievers aren’t even able to worship God, I fully believe that when God’s people worship, they interact with the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Word, and the beauty of that honest interaction draws unbelievers toward God.

(2)  Worship doesn’t save people. Jesus alone saves people.  And Romans 10:13, 14 and 17 make it clear that salvation comes by hearing the Word of God, which contains the Gospel in all of its power and purity.  So yes, I think God moves in power and interacts with us when we worship Him.  And yes, I believe that being in the midst of a worshipping congregation can move the hearts of unbelievers to want to know more – to look more deeply into the message of God.  But we must not trip over that line… we must not ascribe some supernatural power to the worship experience itself, or we are creating an elevated “theology of worship” that equates our experience with the power and holy authority of the Word of God.

(3)  Life-change takes time. In a discussion with Dallas about this piece, he mentioned something that the Worship Pastor, Andi, said that didn’t end up in the final video.  “We’re about life change, and worship leaders need to remember that it’s not always something that happens over 30 minutes, or 30 days, or 30 months, or even 30 years.”

Great perspective.  God can blow the doors off of someone’s heart in an instant if He so chooses.  But often, people who really, REALLY experience God’s power in a life-changing way are led through a PROCESS, not simply brought to an instant that changes everything.  Process… investment… relationships… and the truth. People are stubborn, and me more than most.  We shouldn’t expect “our ministry” to change a soul in one hour-long moment.  God is the heart-breaker and restorer, and He often chooses to plant the truth like a seed, and over time, allow the truth to take root.

When I lead worship, it is an honor to help that seed along with a little toasty goodness from the heat lamp…

As a Worship Leader, I am quick to say HE is the seed planter, and His Word is the seed carrier, and His Spirit is the seed deliverer.  My job is to give the congregation of believers in our church an opportunity to respond to God with adoration and honest thanksgiving for His love and grace and unchanging character.  Because the Gospel is the seed.  Their heart is the soil.  And I’m just flipping the ON switch…

When you watch Rob’s story, or when you read the ideas presented here, what do you think?

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“worship evangelism :: seeds, soil, and heat lamps” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

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