Jonathan Cruse’s book What Happens When We Worship has a simple point. Something important happens between us and God when we worship (p. 1). He presents a theology of worship (ch. 2-7), the pieces of a proper worship service (ch. 8-13), and some brief remarks about how to prepare for worship (ch. 14-15).
This is a book written with more zeal than tact.
The author is Very ReformedTM, which is something better experienced than described. He repeatedly impugns the motives and intent of millions of Christians across the world with broad brush accusations of mercenary pragmatism, and straw men caricatures. This is Cruse’s default rhetorical device. It doesn’t work well if you desire to reach and persuade an audience that doesn’t already agree with you. For example:
Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain?
Or can the heavens give showers?
Are You not He, O LORD our God?
Therefore we will wait for You,
Since You have made all these. (Jeremiah 14:22)
We’ve all heard versions of the prayer that goes, “Lord, help me to be patient, and please hurry up about it.” In my life the lesson on being patient has been probably the hardest one to learn. In fact, I must confess that I have not learned the lesson very well, and have constantly to relearn it. If I were to put my finger on the problem it would have to land on the truths brought out in the verse above.
Jeremiah knew a lot about having to wait. During his ministry he had to preach for God to a people who had set themselves against the truth. His words often seemed to bounce off the surface of the ears of his listeners. Moreover, he had to contend with false prophets who would tell the eager hearers what they wanted to hear; the bad times were coming to an end; the Babylonians would be beaten back; God would come to the rescue of Israel. These were not the messages that Jeremiah was given to proclaim.
Given that Jeremiah had an unpopular message to preach, he had to be a man of patience to continue, day in, day out, to be a herald of, this verse gets to the heart of why we can wait on the Lord, giving over to Him our propensity to rush things or to see matters change overnight.
The prophet poses two questions about the way the world works.
"The order, issued on July 1, includes sanitation guidelines for church buildings, suggests shortened services, and temporarily prohibits items that move among congregants, such as offering plates. Churches aren’t the sole focus of the order, with venues such as bars, restaurants, theaters, and museums being shuttered for at least three weeks." - C.Leaders
Read the series.
Introducing new technologies into worship can be a challenge—especially into churches within the Reformed tradition.35 Some Christians within this tradition believe the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW) applies only to the corporate gatherings of the church and interpret it as precluding the introduction of anything into the worship service that’s not explicitly commanded in the New Testament.36
Personally, I question whether the RPW should be limited to corporate worship. I don’t think we live by one regulative principle when we pass through the “sanctuary doors” and a different principle when we’re outside corporate worship.37 Rather, as I see it, we live by one principle, which is sola Scriptura. This principle applies to all of life in a more general way and to church worship, community, and mission with greater specificity. Thus, there’s one principle, but different applications based on varying contextual situations, i.e., worship in a broader sense and worship in a narrow sense.38
Ye humble souls, that seek the Lord,
Chase all your fears away;
And bow with rapture down to see
The place where Jesus lay.
Thus low the Lord of life was brought;
Such wonders love can do:
Thus cold in death that bosom lay,
Which throbbed and bled for you.
A moment give a loose to grief,
Let grateful sorrows rise,
And wash the bloody stains away,
With torrents from your eyes.
Then raise your eyes, and tune your songs,
The Savior lives again:
Not all the bolts and bars of death
The Conqueror could detain.
High o’er the angelic bands He rears
His once dishonored head;
And through unnumbered years He reigns,
Who dwelt among the dead.
With joy like His shall every saint
His vacant tomb survey;
Then rise with His ascending Lord
To realms of endless day.
Philip Doddridge (d.1751)
"Larger churches will have a more difficult time staying larger. At least, that is my postulate according to our early research. And to be clear, I am defining a larger church by the size of its largest worship service, not by its total attendance." - Thom Rainer