Worship Can Be A Witness
John 4:24) [NIV] God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
Twelve Convictions About Worship:
1. Only believers can truly worship God. The direction of worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to Him. Unbelievers cannot do this. Saddleback teaches, “Worship is expressing our love to God for who He is, what He’s said, and what He’s doing.” Appropriate ways to express our love to God/worship include praying, singing, thanking, listening, giving, testifying, trusting, obeying His Word, and many other ways. God, not man, is the focus and center of worship.
2. You don’t need a building to worship God.
Acts 17:24) [NIV] The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.
Saddleback existed 15 years and grew to over 10,000 in attendance without owning a building.
3. There is no correct “style” of worship. Jesus only gave 2 requirements for legitimate worship [see John 4:24 above]: 1) in spirit; 2) in truth.
No doubt God enjoys the variety of styles of worship from church to church, as long as it’s done “in spirit and in truth.”
Rick teaches that true worship employs both your right brain and your left brain. True worship involves the emotion and the intellect, your heart and your mind.
4. Unbelievers can watch believers worship. They can see the joy we feel, and how we value God’s Word, and respond to it. They can discover how the Bible answers the problems and questions of life. They can notice how worship encourages, strengthens, and changes us. They might even sense God moving.
5. Worship is a powerful witness to unbelievers if God’s presence is felt and if the message is understandable. On the day of Pentecost God’s presence was so evident in the disciples’ worship service that it attracted a huge group of unbelievers. 3000 people were saved. Why were 3000 people saved?
- They felt God’s presence.
- They understood the message.
More people are won to Christ by feeling God’s presence than by all of our sermons combines.
Rick teaches, “In genuine worship God’s presence is felt, God’s pardon is offered, God’s purposes are revealed, and God’s power is displayed.”
6. God expects us to be sensitive to the fears, hang-ups, and needs of unbelievers when they are present in our worship services. Paul commanded that tongues be limited in public worship. Why? It’s because if unbelievers attend the service tongues will appear foolish to them. Paul didn’t say tongues were foolish, but that they would appear foolish to unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 14:23) [NIV] So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
The point Paul is making is that we must be willing to adjust our worship practices when unbelievers are present. God is telling us to be sensitive to the hang-ups of unbelievers in our services. Rick insists from this passage that being seeker sensitive in our worship is a Biblical command.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33) [NIV] So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
32) Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God-
33) even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Paul not only commanded the Corinthians to be careful not to cause anyone, including unbelievers, to stumble, but he also commanded the Colossians to use wisdom in their dealings with unbelievers.
Colossians 4:5) [NIV] Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
7. A worship service does not have to be shallow to be seeker sensitive. The message doesn’t have to be compromised, just understandable. Making a service comfortable for the unchurched doesn’t mean we have to change our theology; it means changing the environment of the service.
Ways to change the environment of the service:
- How we greet visitors,
- The style of music we use,
- The Bible translation we preach from,
- The kinds of announcements we make in the service.
Being seeker sensitive doesn’t limit what we say; it does affect how we say it. The unbeliever expects to hear the Bible when they come to church. What they want, though, is to hear how the Bible relates to their lives.
Unbelievers struggle with the same issues believers struggle with:
- Who am I?
- Where do I come from?
- Where am I going?
- Does life make sense?
- Why is their suffering and evil in the world?
- What is my purpose in life?
- How can I learn to get along with people?
8. The needs of believers and unbelievers often overlap. They are very different in some areas but are very similar in many areas. Seeker sensitive services focus on needs common to both believers and unbelievers:
- Both need to know what God is really like.
- Both need to understand the purpose of life.
- Both need to know why and how to forgive others.
- Both need help in strengthening their marriage and family.
- Both need to know how to deal with suffering, grief, and pain.
- Both need to know why materialism is so destructive.
Christians don’t stop having needs once they’re saved.
9. It is best to specialize your services according to their purpose. Most churches try to evangelize the lost and edify believers in the same service. Trying to aim at 2 targets with
1 gun only results in frustration.
We need to design one service to edify believers and another service to evangelize the unchurched. At Saddleback, the believers’ service is Wednesday night and the seeker services are Saturday night and Sunday morning. Why? They discovered that the unbeliever is most likely to visit on a Sunday morning, and that a believer is most likely to invite a friend to a Sunday service.
10. A service geared toward seekers is meant to supplement personal evangelism, not replace it. People generally find it easier to decide for Christ when there are multiple relationships supporting that decision. Seeker services provide a group witness to enhance and confirm the personal witness of members.
11. There is no standard way to design a seeker service. This is because unbelievers are not all alike. Some want a service that makes them feel a part of it; others want to sit passively and watch. Some like quiet, meditative services; others like high-energy services.
There are only 3 nonnegotiable elements of a seeker service:
- Treat unbelievers with love and respect.
- Relate the service to their needs.
- Share the message in a practical, understandable manner.
What really attracts large numbers of unchurched to a church is changed lives – lots of changed lives. People want to go where lives are being changed, where hurts are being healed, and where hope is being restored.
At every Saddleback service they invite people to fill out a registrtion card and sing worship songs. They take an offering, provide a message outline with Bible verses written out on it, and offer a time of commitment.
12. It takes unselfish, mature believers to offer a seeker sensitive service.
1 Corinthians 14:19-20) [NLT] But in a church meeting I would much rather speak five understandable words that will help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.
20) Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature and wise in understanding matters of this kind.
Paul teaches that when we think only of our own needs in worship we are being childish and immature. Church members demonstrate spiritual maturity when they are considerate of the needs, fears, and hang-ups of unbelievers and are willing to place those needs before their own in a service. Seeker sensitive services require members who are willing to create a safe environment for unbelievers at the expense of their own preferences, traditions, and comfort.
Matthew 20:28) [TLB] Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.
Until the attitude of unselfish servanthood permeates the minds and hearts of our members, our church isn’t ready to begin a seeker sensitive service.
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church