Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Death To the Worship Service!

We are not having any more worship services at our church...we're done with them...no more!

Well, actually, that's not completely true. What we are done with is calling what happens on our Sunday mornings "worship services"...we're now calling them "worship gatherings" (I think I've mentioned this somewhere before).

Here's why:

1) Dictionary.com only has one definition of the word "Service" that includes anything about worship/religion.

Yes, a lot of people at NHC (about 75%) do organized acts of service on Sunday mornings (teaching, leading worship, first impressions team, hospitality team, etc. etc.), and yes, we do consider those acts of service to be worship. But, about half of the people who attend our church do not come to serve, and some don't even come to worship God. So, to call it a "worship service" is more than a little bit of a misnomer.

2) Unchurched/seekers (especially those who have never spent much/any time inside a church building) probably couldn't tell you why most churches call it a "worship service"...most church members probably couldn't tell you either without having to think about it for more than a few seconds.

One of our goals at NHC is to help break down as many trivial barriers as possible that would keep our unchurched guests from discovering life in Christ. If calling it a "worship service" leaves people confused, maybe it's worth giving it a second look.

We're calling our services " worship gatherings" for a few reasons:

1) The main purpose of our Sunday mornings is worship.

Whether a person is singing, serving, listening to the Word, giving an offering, growing their relationships with others, reaching out to an unchurched guest, etc., we consider it all to be worship if it's done for the glory of God.

2) "Gathering" implies action on the part of those who are coming.

Even if a person never sings a note, doesn't drop a penny into the plate, doesn't take one dot or tittle of notes, the simple fact that they've come to gather with others makes them active participants in what we're doing. We don't expect unchurched people to come and worship a God they do not know, but we do want them to feel as if they are still a part of what is happening in the hope that they will take the opportunity to discover life in Christ.

3) "Gathering" forces us to think differently about Sunday morning.

Too often, too many of us come to church to worship, when instead, we should be coming to church worshipping. A worship gathering is an opportunity for the church to bring our individual lives of worship together to create a beautiful, huge gift of worship to God. Anytime we can remind ourselves of this fact, it's a good thing.

So, what do you think? Have you ever considered what your Sunday mornings are really all about? Have you ever thought about shaking things up simply by changing your lingo?


If you liked this post, you may also want to read the other posts in the "Rethinking Worship":

Gag The Worship Leader!

Fire the Worship Leader!

Terminate the Worship Team!

Burn the Sanctuary!


Paul J. said...

Well, no, but I'll be thinking about it NOW...thanks!

MilePost13 said...


Steve said...

I like your point #2 for both anti-service and pro-gathering. I guess I had thought that the reference to "worship service" was rooted in Romans 12:1. Anyone else heard that explanation?

Gathering is a really good word. "Meeting" is another word I've heard used in place of "worship service"--not as in Quaker Meeting but as in a group of people, well, gathering, to "meet" with the Lord. But when I say that, most people cock their head and look at me funny. :-)

It's hard to break through deep-seated mindsets, even if few people know why or what-for! But you're right, Nate; these are some of the very questions we need to ask about ourselves and our mission.


MilePost13 said...

I've never heard that (Rom. 12), although it makes sense.

Meeting is a good word, but the first thing that comes to my head is "business meeting", which is the same as cussing in our church...

Justin said...

I like it - worship gathering - makes more sense to me. I think I will have that discussion with my pastor - I'm sure he will like it

Anonymous said...

The term "service" I have always thought referred to the fact that we were not at church for ourselves but we were there to be of "service" to God.

A waiter is someone who focuses on servicing his customers and "waits" on tables.

When we come to church, we "wait" on God and worship Him. We present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable "service".

As a result, I continue to go to our church service.