Apologetics and Worship

I have been interested for some time in the relationship between a healthy worship gathering and a setting that is primarily used for evangelistic purposes. My tendency is to say–by the way I am not the originator of this thought–that a worship gathering that is being used for evangelistic purposes is not really corporate worship, with the recognition that God is honored as lost souls are saved. In this article I examine possible apologetic approaches in a corporate worship setting. After reviewing the categories regarding how apologetics can be integrated into a corporate worship setting, some suggestions are made for presenting an informed apologetic approach.

The article attached was presented in the spring of 2011 at Southwest Regional Evangelical Theological Society Meeting in Dallas and now appears in The Journal for Baptist Theology and and Ministry (journal link): Worship and Apologetics (direct link to article).

65 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Christi Gibson on August 20, 2011 at 10:44 am

    If worship is considered to be revelation and response, then it will always be evangelistic and apologetic, without seeking to be primarily either one. I prefer to say that true worship in spirit and truth will be naturally evangelistic and apologetic.
    As Christ is lifted up, He will draw all men to Him. Thoughtful revelation, doctrinally sound worship songs and other elements, will reveal God and Christ, and cannot help but invite response.
    I do not see that this excludes creativity, artistic expression, or even emotional response. In fact, I believe that it invites it. David wrote his psalms in response to the revelation of God. He poured out his emotions, filtered them through the truth that he knew about God, and responded with praise. There is absolutely no reason that the new songs of this century cannot do the same.

    Reply

    • Posted by Eric Phillips on August 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      Christi,

      I agree with your post. As Christ is revealed and glorified, He draws men, women, boys, and girls to Himself. The response is then repentance and faith (salvation). I thus agree with your statement that “true worship in spirit and truth will be naturally evangelistic and apologetic”. Granted, the field of apologetics can go very deep with much research and insight that will probably not come out in a typical Sunday service every week. However, this doesn’t mean that at times our worship services are not apologetic as truth is proclaimed, articulated, and defended.

      The reference to David and the psalms was also a good reminder of how God does use poetry and other art forms to reveal Himself which ultimately will lead to a response from man. This is an area I am still growing in as a pastor of how to incorporate more of the “arts” into our services in a way that brings glory to God.

      Reply

    • Posted by Mike Chitwood on August 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      Thank you for your reply and it was most enjoyable as you focussed on the spiritual implications of that can occur apologetically in worship. Often when one refers to apologetics they think of philosophy or a logical means to share the Gospel. This can occur as one over thinks both their arguments and their presentation for worship. Both your post and the paper remind us that apologetics should not remain a human creation. That yes the Lord does call us to use the intellect He gave us but to always remember His working hand behind any work or apologetic we can do. As you wrote, “As Christ is lifted up, He will draw all men to Him.” We are called to worship Him and in doing so people will be drawn to Him by our authenticity. This is one of the best worship apologetics of all.

      Reply

    • Posted by Kyle Naylor on August 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm

      After reading Dr. Woodwards article (which was very informative) and the following posts, I can not get away from Christ’s opening line. “If worship is considered to be revelation and response, then it will always be evangelistic and apologetic, without seeking to be primarily either one.” I certainly see the validity of making the case for one element over the other. However, I am having a hard time completely separating the two concepts all together. On any given Sunday, I feel like the worship service can be a combination of both. As God is exalted and His nature is revealed, people are impacted. The key is that the worship must truly bring honor and glory to God.

      Reply

      • Posted by Donnie Jones on September 11, 2011 at 3:47 am

        I agree Kyle, I do believe that worship services can be both. Evangelistic, in that we share Jesus and His gospel to anyone may hear and to share apologetically in terms of presenting the truth.

        Presenting apologetically doesnt always have to bring up examples of opposing stances, but this can be presented in the idea that truth is shared. Word is not just preached but presented!

    • Posted by Joel Williams on August 29, 2011 at 9:13 pm

      I think you’re right in that public worship that reveals God’s truth/the gospel and involves God’s people reacting/worshiping in response will always provide opportunity for evangelism and apologetics. I would agree that true worship in spirit and truth can naturally be used by God to draw people to Christ and/or defend the truth of the gospel. God is big enough to accomplish both — and more — in the context of true worship.

      Reply

      • Posted by Kevin Whitfield on September 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm

        I think this is a great point to make, particularly in a culture dominated by rationalism. Some rationalists will eventually come to the end and realize their worldview cannot make sense of all that happens in life. I think this can happen in the context of a powerful worship service. At the recent wedding of two believers the pastor said, ‘If you’re here and you’re not a believer, know that the sweet spirit you feel in the room is the presence of Jesus among his people.” I think God’s presence among his people is possibly the greatest apologetic we have. What can an unbeliever say to it? Of course, some will find something. But eventually, if they sit in on it enough, it might become overwhelming and incapable of being denied.

    • Posted by Mike Cobb on September 9, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      Christi,

      I agree with your assessment. Is it not true that the worship music should be theologically sound and inspire the congregation to worship in spirit and in truth? As Christians, we should worship God as a result of the gospel message and go forth in a mode of evangelism. Our apologetic is the gospel and through worship our minds, emotions, and wills are changed, opening our spirits to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ben Purvis on September 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm

        And just to add a note on this,

        Paul mentions in 1Corinthians 14 that when believers worship God fully and truthfully it has the power to bring unbelievers to salvation. I think that one of the most powerful defenses of the gospel is to show a lost generation how important Christ means to us through authentic, unyielding, reverent worship.

    • Posted by Marshall henderson on September 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      My best friend was saved at a large worship conference. His point of surrender was when he looked around at all the worshippers and said to himself, “This has got to be real.” It’s interested that God will certainly draw the lost to Himself in such a way.
      As leaders, I agree with Woodward that our goal in worship is to worship, not necessarily to evanglize. But we are confident that as the body worships in spirit and truth, God will draw the lost. This is something I pray for many of my students: that they would see the passion and genuineness of Christian students in our worship gatherings. I pray the Holy Spirit uses that evidence to change their hearts.

      Reply

  2. A confession:

    I, like the author, had my “wonder years” throughout all of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. As such my experience in church (or at least what I remember) was that there was a strong evangelistic emphasis in the “worship hour” every week. It was as if every time of “worship” was a Billy Graham crusade. Altar calls dragged on interminably with “Just As I Am” sung through in total, twice. Multiple Ministers would be at the front to receive those who came forward to make a decision. (Of which I was one, rededicating in 1994). And introductions of those who had filled out a decision card were made by the senior pastor to all in the congregations, with many hearty Amen’s said loudly. The following week there would usually be just as many baptisms beginning the worship service. The church was seemingly growing and thriving. Yet a strange dynamic occurred. Eventually the senior pastor left to go to another church that God was “calling him to.” The result was that many who had joined the church and been baptized left, never to be seen again. Where did they go? Why? Weren’t we a family? The family of God…??

    Fast forward a couple of decades. This same church is now focusing on the worship hour as primarily for the believers in attendance. (Only believers can truly worship anyway) Virtually gone are the above emphasis’s on “winning the lost.” This isn’t to say that people do not make decisions during the worship hour but evangelism-specifically is not the driving force behind the worship hour. Instead, believers are led in the “corporate worship” of God. Again however, there is a strange dynamic. For me, raised on an unhealthy dose of what was described above, this “new” form of “corporate worship” feels weird, uncomfortable even… I feel exposed and want to cover-up, run away sometimes. My faith has been so personalized over the years that to express that faith in a corporate setting is akin to being naked in public. (Am I weird?) The worship hour (or so I think) is supposed to be about them… those lost people present who need Jesus. Can’t we go back to the way it was? I don’t feel right…? (rhetorical)…

    Thus I confess to you my difficulty in making this shift in what exactly “worship” is supposed to be. I have a feeling however that I am not alone. I say this because attendance in the worship hour is not nearly what it once was. I wonder if others who have been raised on the same unhealthy dose of a mini evangelistic crusade every week feel the same way, can’t put a finger on it, just know that it feels weird, and thus they don’t come around…? I also wonder, corporately speaking, have I EVER worshiped?? This is a frightening prospect! I will confess to you all that I am still struggling with the weirdness of it all.

    Now, in the “consideration of apologetic approaches in the worship framework. I think Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14 verses 24-25 is a key for this idea. First, non-believers cannot worship. At least they cannot worship the one true God, Jesus Christ. They might attend out of curiosity or out of a desire to seek out truth, but ultimately they cannot worship that which they have not placed trust or faith upon. Thus the worship hour is for specifically the family of God. Those who have chosen to follow Christ and join a local fellowship of believers. If those believers are truly in step with Christ in their personal walk throughout the week (worshiping God individually, moment by moment) then the corporate gathering on Sunday ought to be an INCREDIBLE DISPLAY OF GODS POWER AND MIGHT in what He has done in the world via his bride, i.e. the church dispersed. Thus if “an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.” 1 Cor 14:24-25. Hence, the reconciling of the evangelistic method with an apologetic approach. Part of the reason why this form of worship fails to meet our numbers driven worship services is that so few believers worship God throughout the week on the individual level. Most believers come to church spiritually anemic, or on spiritual life support. Thus this weakness of personal worship is reflected in our corporate worship hour and we wonder why the church is in overall decline… If evangelism was at an all time high during the latter half of the 20th century via Billy Graham and others (mind you, I am not knocking B.G.!!!) it would seem that discipleship was not even on the radar. Discipleship and evangelism however are holistically intertwined. Like faith and works, or the sovereignty of God and the free will of man, Discipleship and evangelism ought not be dichotomized. This holistic philosophy of evangelism and worship then transfers easily over into the corporate worship hour. The praise of God by the family of God ought to be of such substance and power that any present who are not of the family of God will fall on their face and worship God (conversion) declaring God to be among us.

    Reply

    • Richard, I appreciate your candor in this response. I don’t think you are the only person asking: Have I ever really worshipped? Of course, this thought leads us back to definitions of personal worship. Generally, evangelicals have not been particularly strong in the corporate worship category, although I believe this has changed a good deal over the past 2 decades.

      Reply

      • Posted by Richard Beatty on August 24, 2011 at 11:13 am

        Thank you for the affirming reply. I am curious, what has influenced the change over the last two decades that evangelicals have become better in the corporate worship category?

    • Posted by Michael Weis on August 22, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      Richard, the same text from 1 Corinthians came to my mind as well as I was reading the paper by Dr. Woodward. While evangelism and apologetics can and are a part of the “worship” in the preaching as well as in the songs, the main focus is to be the Lord. When an unbeliever comes into a service, he/she/they will see the people truly worshipping God – through singing, giving, loving, greeting and preaching (5 point outline there…) and will sense the power of God in that place becuase of Him and the people and then fall on their face, confess their sins and put their faith in Christ.

      Good question about have I ever really worshipped. The only way we can answer that is to know what worship truly is and then have a life of worship personally before we come to worship corporately. Very cool…

      Reply

      • Posted by Richard Beatty on August 24, 2011 at 11:24 am

        Yeah, the “awareness factor” as to what worship, particularly corporate worship is supposed to be has been quite illuminating. It has really given me food for thought. Another thought or question that comes to mind is if the corporate body at large is as ignorant as I am/was regarding worship am I not in effect essentially worshiping alone? I realize this is hyperbole and there is the danger of becoming snobbish if this feeling or thought is taken too far but I still wonder..?

    • Posted by Mike Chitwood on August 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm

      Richard, concerning your post you wrote, “Thus I confess to you my difficulty in making this shift in what exactly “worship” is supposed to be. I have a feeling however that I am not alone. I say this because attendance in the worship hour is not nearly what it once was. I wonder if others who have been raised on the same unhealthy dose of a mini evangelistic crusade every week feel the same way, can’t put a finger on it.” I too grew up in a church where it was a mini-crusade as you put it. As I reflect from that time I believe the first half of the church service (notice I did not call it a worship service) was a worship service. The second half of the worship service, specifically the sermon was an evangelistic crusade. This is because the pastor made this his focus and preaching style. This is not uncommon. Even New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has two classes that cater to this. They have a class called “Evangelistic Preaching” and” Pulpit Apologetics.” So I do not believe you are alone. I also appreciate you pointing this out. As an individual with a Masters in Evangelism, and as I pursue the Master of Divinity in Expository Preaching I need to remember that I am also a pastor who God has called to lead in worship so they can evangelize seven days a week, not just one.

      Reply

    • Posted by Kevin Whitfield on August 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      Richard,
      Thank you for your post. It was personally and theologically challenging. The passage from 1 Cor. 14:24-25 is incredibly practical for our discussion. In Mark Dever’s book, “The Gospel and Personal Evangelism,” he specifically encourages people to invite unbelievers to church as a means of evangelism. You might think his motive is that the unbeliever hear the gospel, and this is partly true. His other motive, however, is to allow the unbeliever to see the gospel through the loving community of the Church. As you noted, the reality of Christ should be evidenced through his body, which makes communal worship a living apologetic.

      Reply

    • Posted by marshall henderson on September 1, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      I can see what u mean in relaying your experience. I believe your experience of decades ago is a familiar one to many churches. I work with students and I have a difficult time with them primarily seeing worship as about “me.” Conversely I see a generation and/or a certain section of the church that seem to view worship (revelation and response) as about “them.” (“Them,” as in anyone who needs to find Jesus). Maybe this comes from the evangelistic (only) type worship they have grown accustomed to. But you are right and the original post is insightful because we first have to understand that worship is what the family of God does.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Andrew Pressley on August 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Christi, allow me to jump in a little. I agree with the basic underlying thrust of your comments that worship can reveal God to unbelievers, but if you’ll permit me to refine it a bit… I hope it is received in the way I intend it: gracious Word-Centered discussion. Mine are merely unrefined reactions at this stage.

    I’m not comfortable listing evangelism and apologetics as synonymous, though there is certainly some overlap. It seems to me that for apologetics to be present, there must be a decidedly intentional approach to planning a service as such. Insofar as worship is revelation and response, and assuming that the Scriptures are proclaimed, God’s word is presented, thus potentially evangelizing (and yet our focus isn’t on making converts). However, it takes additional intentionality to offer a defense for a belief in the biblical things that are being proclaimed (generally using philosophy and logic, not additional Scripture). Though this sort of reasoning might be used periodically, I don’t think the church needs to offer this logic every week to solidify her faith in the word. Her commitment to the word and her love for its Author should mandate her practice of carrying out its precepts, not external reasons (self-preservation and such). So… I just don’t see that the worship service is inherently apologetic. I’m sure there’s more to consider here, but I haven’t read Woodward’s article yet – I plan to this afternoon.

    And another note in reference to John 12:32. It should be quoted thus: “And I, when I am lifted up FROM THE EARTH, will draw all people to myself.” The next verse is paramount: “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” This text is not about worship at all. It’s about Christ’s death.

    Hope that helps.

    Reply

    • Posted by Eric Phillips on August 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm

      Andrew,

      Just wanted to continue the discussion regarding the thoughts you made on Christi’s post. I agree with you that John 12:32 is a reference to the death of Christ and an indication of how he as going to die by crucifixion. However, I would disagree that this text has nothing to do with worship. This text has everything to do with worship. We worship because Christ did die in our place which leads to us experiencing new life in Him through repentance and faith. Jesus continued his discussion with the crowd that day in verses 35-36 when he said, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” Jesus is exhorting the people to believe in Him for salvation. This is an evangelistic passage which ultimately becomes a worship passage because evangelism is about one surrendering to the Lordship of Christ as they hear the good news about Him. Thus, in our worship services as we exalt Christ (lift Him up – which would include testifying about His life, death, burial, resurrection, and coming), He is drawing men to Himself for salvation.

      Regarding apologetics, I agree with you that there will definitely be times of much thought and planning on how to do this area well during a corporate worship service. Apologetics usually includes philosophical thought and/or much intellectual reasoning. However, this can be done through song in that many songs focus on God as Creator and the beauty of creation. The wonders and magnificence of creation provides an “argument” for the necessity of a almighty Creator.

      Thanks for your post; just some different takes on what you had shared. As you shared with Christi, please receive these thoughts with much grace as I do not want to come across as argumentative but instead just trying to have healthy discussion!

      Reply

      • Posted by Andrew Pressley on August 25, 2011 at 3:16 am

        I just feel like you had to run all the way across town to get to where you wanted with the passage. The immediate application of this passage is clearly about the temporal crucifixion event. He was quite literally lifted up from the earth to be crucified, thus drawing people to himself. When we say “Let’s lift him up” in a worship service, we intend to mean something entirely different. We definitely don’t “lift him up” in the way Jesus meant. Unless you’re Catholic, I guess…

        I agree that this passage has implications for our life of worship, and thus our gatherings, but the verse is not an instructive discourse on our worship services – and it’s not a proof text for inherent evangelism in worship. Even the disbelief of the people that follows seems to point that direction: “How could the Messiah die a criminal death?”

        I’m also not sure “drawing men to himself” refers to a call to salvation. I need to do more research there, though….

        Also, I agree that apologetics CAN be present in worship services. I was simply saying they’re not INHERENTLY present. It requires intentionality.

        Peace.

      • Posted by Kevin Whitfield on August 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm

        Andrew,
        I agree with both you guys that we usually associate apologetics with philosophy, logic etc. On the other hand, a simple definition of the term is “to give a defense.” I cannot help but think of John 13:35-“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for another.” I can tell you are zealous for exegesis so I want to be clear-I am just wondering if our love for one another is somehow displayed in our worship together, often making worship ‘inherently apologetic.” Just one example-our services are sometimes used as an opportunity to take up special offerings for those with needs in our faith community. Could this be a defense of the sacrificial love of God?

      • Posted by Andrew Pressley on August 26, 2011 at 3:33 am

        Kevin:

        Your example is certainly a display of that love, but I think the defense endeavor of apologetics has more to do with the reason WHY you believe something… rather than presenting evidence of the fact THAT you believe it. Make sense?

      • Posted by Beth Tucker on August 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm

        I am all about John 13:35! This past week I saw many from my church show Christ love by actions. Through theirs actions, other were either shown Christ right then and there, or because of their actions will be shown Christ. Allie turned ten years old and instead of receiving presents for her birthday she asked her friends for pillow cases so they could make pillow case dresses for orphans in Haiti. Through that her friends were shown God’s love in amazing ways and many began asking me questions. One girl actually came up to me and said “Will you pray for me?”. It was an amazing experience! Another example was a man in our church who fixed a car for free; it would have cost $1,000 to fix at a car place. Through this man being willing to fix it for free the young lady will be able to go on her mission trip. If she was going to have to pay for her car to be fixed she was not going to be able to go spread God’s word in a different country.

  4. Posted by Tyler Sandifer on August 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Worship has always been a little tricky for me. Often I wonder if our gatherings that we call “worship” have been labeled incorrectly. It seems clear in scripture that worship is not a scheduled event but rather the way we respond or relate to God on a daily, even moment-by-moment, basis.

    For instance, take our gatherings on Sunday morning that we refer to as worship. Do they really focus on giving us an opportunity to present our lives as a sacrifice to God? No, at least not literally. A good one may give us an opportunity to dedicate our lives, but the giving of our lives is not an event but a continuous response.

    Our services don’t focus on the act of worship. They focus on remembering God (which yes, in a sense, is worshiping God). In our services, we remember. And when we remember, then we worship. Then we give of ourselves. Then we sacrifice what we desire to serve God. And you know what we get when we serve God together? Corporate worship. So in a way, simply being an active part of the body of Christ is corporate worship. What we do on Sunday morning should not be the poster child of worship. What we do in response to Sunday morning (when we remember God) is what worship is all about.

    So, getting back to the discussion, should our gatherings be evangelistic? Of course. When we remember God, how can we help but be evangelistic. But should our gatherings focus solely on the lost? Of course not. Our gatherings should focus on declaring the one true God and His relationship with humanity through Jesus Christ. If we do this, our people will remember. And if our people remember, we can only hope they will choose to worship.

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew Pressley on August 21, 2011 at 1:45 am

      I don’t disagree with you, Tyler. But insofar as we’re worshipping together when we gather, I don’t see a problem in deeming it a worship gathering or service (latreuo). I’d love to hear a good suggestion as to an alternate label. I’ve yet to hear one that isn’t ridiculously cumbersome.

      Reply

    • Posted by Eric Phillips on August 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      Tyler,

      I appreciate your thoughts man. The following quote was very helpful. “So in a way, simply being an active part of the body of Christ is corporate worship. What we do on Sunday morning should not be the poster child of worship. What we do in response to Sunday morning (when we remember God) is what worship is all about.” From the perspective of a pastor, as I preach the Word, I do want people to reflect on and remember the glory and greatness of God. However, in addition, the Word of God demands a response from our lives. This response should be continual repentance, faith, and obedience. Thus, I think man you are right on in that simply being an active part of a body of believers will lead (hopefully) to what worship is all about – our daily lifestyles of being living sacrifices. The corporate aspect of it gives opportunities to be held accountable and to grow in Christ together. One possible thought is to make our corporate gatherings (worship services) more participatory where people do have to reflect more and respond to the work of God in their lives.

      Reply

    • Posted by Mike Chitwood on August 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you for your post and you point out a very necessary point when you say, “Our services don’t focus on the act of worship. They focus on remembering God (which yes, in a sense, is worshiping God). In our services, we remember.” This form of remembrance but not worshiping is called a “memorial.” The only memorial we are called to do in worship is The Lord’s Supper. The last time I checked Christ is no LONGER dead but alive so we are to worship a living savior.
      However for this to happen a lot of our churches need to wake up from the passive memorial style of worship you alluded to and move towards a vibrant engaged worship setting. This perhaps is the first thing that should be cured before even talking about apologetics in worship. But since the paper did discuss apologetics in worship let me close with a questions. You wrote in your thread, “But should our gatherings focus solely on the lost? Of course not.” So if we could only choose between two options what would be better having a dead memorial or an apologetic evangelistic service that is only focussed on the lost?

      Reply

      • Posted by Michael Weis on September 19, 2011 at 10:03 pm

        I think it is important that we “remember” what the Lord has done. There are numerous places in the Old and New Testament where we are told to “remember.” While I don’t go as far as to say this is worship, I would say that remembering the faithfulness of God in the past, helps us to worship Him for that faithfulness in the present and prepare us to see His faithfulness once again in the future.

    • Posted by Kevin Whitfield on September 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      Tyler,

      Thanks for your thoughts here and for reminding us that worship should continually take place outside of Sundays. I think one of the great challenges to Sunday mornings is that it is supposed to be a communal event-like so many of the Psalms communicate (Let us praise God together and so on), yet faith has been so individualized that many people don’t know how to engage God as a group. For this reason, I think our services should contribute a significant amount of time to praying together. Our church has a designated “Community Time” each service to pray over things within our body. Not to say we have figured it out, but it is one way we are trying to emphasize communal worship.
      To be honest I think the communal aspect of Sunday morning worship is what is unique from all the other worship we should be experiencing in our daily lives. Moreover, when we gather together is when we partake of the body and the bread, celebrate baptism, etc. These should be very unifying experiences for the community of faith, as our hearts are joined together with joy in the Lord.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Eric Phillips on August 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I found the article by Dr. Woodward to be some good food for thought. I will first share a quote from the article. “The sustained history of the liturgy would suggest to us that people do not grow tired of hearing and more importantly participating in the story of Holy God creating humans, humans becoming aware of their sin, Christ atoning for human sin, humans praising Christ for His victory over the grave and our sin, and humans anticipating eternal worship that has already begun.” I would wholeheartedly agree. Peter in 2 Peter 1:12 says, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.” What is he reminded his readers of? Well, it is basically the things mentioned by Dr. Woodward in the quote above. Peter wanted to stir them up by “way of reminder” (1:13). C.J. Mahaney (Sovereign Grace Ministries) says in his book “The Cross-Centered Life”, “the cross was the centerpiece of Paul’s theology. It wasn’t merely one of Paul’s messages; it was the message. He refused to be pulled away from the gospel.” We need the gospel as believers today just as much as when we first believed. The good news in all of this is as we focus on the glory of God, the beauty of the gospel, and how it transforms our lives as believers, the power of the Word will transform the hearts of unbelievers. Dr. Woodward went on to say, “A person who has consistently heard songs about God as sovereign, all-powerful, Creator may be in a better position to recognize the truth of this prophetic message.? Again, I would agree. Songs rich in sound theology and the gospel will impact the lives of believers and non-believers on a weekly basis. Even though unbelievers can’t really worship God (since they don’t even know who the one true God is), they can come to know this God by hearing about Him through songs, the preaching and teaching of the Word, and the use of the arts. God is a missionary, evangelistic God so as we as believers praise and worship Him together, His Spirit will do the heart work needed in the lives of unbelievers. In addition to this, we should be building authentic relationships with unbelievers that God brings across our paths to have more touch points to engage them with the gospel. Finally, Dr. Woodward went on to say, “…relational evangelism that leads the lost soul to a corporate worship setting should result in the realization that these strange new friends are indeed worshipping Jesus.” Sadly, at times in the American church, we resort to man-centered tactics to “win people to Jesus” which leads to false converts and shallow Christianity. What one wins people with he will have to keep them with. We must always guard against making our corporate worship services man-centered and not God-centered. Only the beauty of the gospel will bring lasting results!

    Reply

    • Posted by Mike Chitwood on August 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm

      Thank you for your post and for including the following quote, “The sustained history of the liturgy would suggest to us that people do not grow tired of hearing and more importantly participating in the story of Holy God creating humans, humans becoming aware of their sin, Christ atoning for human sin, humans praising Christ for His victory over the grave and our sin, and humans anticipating eternal worship that has already begun.” I enjoyed the quote and I agree that the basic Gospel should not be the only thing taught or emphasized in the church. A good part of apologetics is having a level of depth to one’s faith. This means being able to go beyond the elementary teachings of a “gospel plan of salvation.” It means that one has to own their faith. One of the best quotes I have ever heart was, “your faith is not your own until you begin to question it.” This means having someone being able to wrestle with the various teachings of their faith, worship, etc. It means that corporate worship must have an element that goes beyond something that a non-Christian would understand. The whole nature of worship is being able to experience the transcendence and immanence of God beyond what one already knows this. While it is good to revisit the basics of our faith doing so all the time will never produce growth or continued worship.

      Reply

    • Posted by Kevin Whitfield on August 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm

      Eric,
      Great post. I particularly loved the quote from C.J. Mahaney concerning never moving from the gospel. At our church we often say, ‘we don’t move beyond the gospel. We just go deeper into it.’ I think this is tremendously important concept when it comes to making the service have an evangelistic flavor. We don’t have to put some allegorical twist on a passage. Instead, knowing the purpose of the Scriptures is to reveal Christ to us, we simply ask, what does this passage teach us about our Lord? Every sermon, in this sense, should be rooted in the gospel, causing every worship service to be oriented around the good news.

      Reply

  6. Posted by Michael Weis on August 22, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Interesting paper and I like how Dr. Woodward went through the different approaches of apologetics. Very intriguing. As I mentioned in my comment to Richard above, I thought of the passage in 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, where there would have been sincere worship: in singing, giving, loving, greeting and preaching. In the context of that day, it would have been more like a synagogue with more than one person sharing and others commenting, asking questions and keeping others accountable, but it can still be applied today of course.

    When the lost person comes in and sees what God has done, then through the Holy Spirit through the people, he/she/they repent and put their faith in Christ. That in itself is one form of apologetic and as we look throughout Scripture we see the different uses of the various forms of apologetics used: Classical, Evidential, etc. It depends on the people whom God is speaking to. Thomas needed to see the evidence, while others believed based on the testimony of the apostles. These things can and are a part of the worship and sometimes should be focused on moreso than they are. While there is a distinction between apologetics and evangelism (as noted above), they are connected, but we must always remember that the Holy Spirit is the One who changes the hearts. Thus, in all we do, even by incorporating the arts or media formats at times in the worship service, we must be on constant guard of thinking that anything “we” do can change someone…

    Reply

    • Posted by Lindsay on September 16, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      Michael, I like your last statement in your post “we must be on constant guard of thinking that anything ‘we’ do can change someone.” While I have an appreciation for seeker-sensitive services, I don’t think they are the norm of what the church was meant to be. When the early Christians got together, they took part in the Lord’s Supper, obviously something others could not take part in. I don’t think they kept non-believers out of that time together, but they probably weren’t thinking about apologetics either. Sometimes we get caught up in thinking that a person’s salvation depends solely on us. Instead, there are times we should take people alongside us, such as at church, letting the Holy Spirit take care of the rest.

      Reply

    • Posted by Kevin Whitfield on September 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      Michael, I appreciated the balance to your thoughts. We should use different types of apologetics in our teaching/sermons. This is a ministry to God’s people as we equip them with the ability to defend the faith and simply encourage their own faith. It could also be helpful to an unbeliever sitting in worship. On the other hand, as you said, sometimes we do too much of this, maybe at the expense of teaching the whole counsel of God and trusting God to do the work. We should always remember that God’s method of transforming his people has always been through his Word and Spirit, as you indicated.

      Reply

  7. Posted by Mike Chitwood on August 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    This was an interesting article and in the conclusion it was written, “Although
    most us likely recognize personal evangelism as the most effective approach within an
    apologetic framework, relational evangelism that leads the lost soul to a corporate worship setting should result in the realization that these strange new friends are indeed worshipping Jesus. In the more likely scenario, the person who leads one to Christ should look forward to the opportunity to invite this new convert to a corporate worship setting that reinforces the various aspects of the apologetic that might have been used to win this soul to Christ.” There is a lot of that could be said and elaborated on from this quote.

    The first is that relational evangelism or “incarnational evangelism” should always be the priority for evangelism no matter the setting or context. The best way to convince someone to accept Christ should be done in a means that matches what they say. Also since Romans 12:1-2 allude that our lives should be a “living sacrifice, which is our spiritual act of worship” then evangelism is included within worship. Therefore the best apologetic we could give is our lives. The better we worship the Lord seven days a week the better our life apologetic will be.

    Now I know often when we discuss worship the concern is on the worship service, which this quote alludes to and does the paper. The idea of apologetics and worship is certainly a debate. There are Christians that argue that the worship service should be only for the believer, and then others who believe in seeker services. The latter certainly would be an apologetic fashion. So what is the answer? It could be that the Gospel of Christ is either proclaimed in a way that allows the believer each time to remember Christ’s atonement and for the unbeliever to hear it too. This of course if focussing only on the idea of the sermon. But the sermon is included in the worship experience and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has an entire course on Pulpit Apologetics. Perhaps some more answers could be found there? If it is not the sermon then at least one element of worship should be simplistic enough and apologetic enough for both the believer and unbeliever to grasp.

    In conclusion be it the sermon, or any other form of worship there are means for the various elements can be rotated around to apologetically present the Gospel in worship so that the whole service is not “dumbed down” all the time. Also the believer should never be above revisiting the “elementary” aspects of Christianity. By doing so they can be reminded of the wonder of their faith again and the believer may even come to know Christ.

    Reply

    • I think a major problem in our churches is that so many of our church people have gotten over the “elementary” aspects of the faith. We become so focused on the deeper aspects of the nature of God and man that we forget we have been saved by grace. We lose the wonder you mention. We must train our church people to understand that the central aspects of the Gospel are not merely “elementary” concepts but are our very life and blood and breath and drink and food and purpose. Every deep matter of the faith should be derived from these core Gospel truths and should point back to the need of them.

      Reply

  8. Posted by mack elkin on August 24, 2011 at 12:23 am

    The more of these comments I read, the more I wonder how much the sovereignty of God plays in our worship and how much of it is really our own fleshly desires and how much is the Spirit’s template flowing forth from mature Christians. The reason I say this is the more I contemplate a “better way to do things” the more I see the rationale on why we do things the way we do. Having said that, there does in fact seem the need for our churches to pursue evangelism in a more purposeful way rather than an afterthought within the service. We can do this through evangelistic services planned on Sunday Morning with the evening geared towards corporate worship, or maybe choosing to do a monthly “revival service”. Though I have to admit, when 98% of us Christians won’t tell someone about their faith, it makes me wonder why we have evangelistic worship at all? The “ones saved” already think that they have “the willy wonka ticket of heaven” in their pocket, and are comfortable with their current “laissez-faire” Christianity. I know that I am being judgemental, and that it is only in His timing and level of calling that one surrenders to Christ. But I am being candid in my thoughts, open to all arrows from my classmates…I know that this will be fotter for a theological sidebattle, so shoot away!

    Reply

    • Posted by Richard Beatty on August 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      Mack, I wonder if we trained people (believing church members) to evangelize and disciple, one on one, during the week in the workplace, gym, social clubs, etc… that we would even need an “evangelistic service.” This is not to say that we don’t ever have an evangelistic service. However, too many church members bring their lost friends to church in the hopes that the resident “holy man” i.e. preacher will say something that brings them to Christ. Too many church members have foregone the individual responsibility of the Matthew 28:19-20 mandate of “as you are going make disciples.” How cool would it be for a lay person to introduce a new born babe in Christ to the pastor…. “Pastor I’d like for you to meet so and so. We talked this week and he decided to follow after Jesus as his Lord and Savior. We prayed, and I believe he is ready to take the next step in believers baptism. He also has an interest in joining a local body of believers for the purpose of continued growth and spiritual development. Do you have a few moments to talk?”…. I believe that pastor would be beside himself rejoicing at the spiritual maturity of his congregation… what a dream!!! In doing this then, we can refocus our corporate gatherings primarily on corporate worship… Just my 2 cents…

      Reply

      • Posted by Kevin Whitfield on September 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm

        Great thoughts here Richard. This seems to have been the ‘evangelistic model’ of the early church. As our classmates have noted, it will require training. I think it is less about evangelistic training, however, and more about holistic discipleship. This is where people learn not to just give an evangelistic spill but how to build relationships for the glory of God. The believers in Acts were favored by most of the people, except those who hated them, of course (Acts 5:13). I’m not saying we will always be liked, but I think most people in America will respond favorably to a genuine person wanting express care and a deeper love than they have ever known. Of course the gospel will need to come up here, but showing them love is part of the gospel.

    • Posted by Lindsay on September 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      Mack, I think that some of the “lazy” Christians in the church do not evangelize because we do not teach them to do so. If we actually trained people to go out there and witness as they live their lives, instead of making evangelism seem like a magical formula that they have to say just right, churches would enter revival.
      A side thought that I had was that some preachers probably want their congregation to bring people to them to get saved so that they feel validated in their ministry. I’m not saying that all preachers are like that, or even a majority, but some do not get the same satisfaction from seeing others taking charge as they do when they take charge themselves. Of course, anyone is free to disagree.

      Reply

    • Posted by Michael Weis on September 19, 2011 at 10:08 pm

      Mack, honest thoughts and I commend you for that. I would echo what has been said that most Christians have not been taught how to share their faith, nor equipped with the truth in order to do so. Yes, many are lazy and sadly, in many cases the church has contributed to that in various ways (which is another discussion…). The ones who think they have their “ticket” to heaven either are not saved or have not fully been taught nor understand what it means to be a Christian…

      Reply

    • Posted by Mike Chitwood on September 23, 2011 at 12:41 am

      Mack, I understand your point on the soverignty of God. There are some people who dismiss apologetics of any kind because it is too much of an emphasis on man’s logic to connect people or convince them of God. I would not go this far because I am partial to apologetics. But just as worship is to connect people to the immanence of God so should apologetics do the same. However never should we try to supplant the supernatural ability of God alone. Otherwise what are we connecting them to?

      Reply

  9. Posted by Micah Murphree on August 24, 2011 at 2:53 am

    This is very cool that this topic has been brought up. The Sunday after this Worship Leadership workshop (Aug 7th), I preached on Apologetics! Both my pastor and associate pastor were out of town so that left me to preach (by the way, I’m a youth minister). I love apologetics and teach my students about apologetics on a regular basis. I always strive to present the gospel at all times when preaching/teaching. My sermon that Sunday was no different. It was as much about teaching the believers as it was evangelical to unbelievers (at least that is what I strived to accomplish). Other goals were for believers to be inspired to share their faith and be more confident in their beliefs. My message that Sunday focused on the Resurrection of Christ. 1 Cor 15:14 – “and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith.” Paul states that this is the most important event of the Christian faith! Everything hinges on it for us as believers! If we can be more confident in that and be able to defend it, then how much more confidence will we have in our faith? For me, it makes me want to Praise God and worship Him all the more – regardless of what the song is. Now, I don’t remember what songs were played that Sunday morning but they were not specifically done because I was preaching on apologetics. Partly because our music minister has the services planned way out in the future and I got the call to preach that Sunday about 2 weeks prior and didn’t decided to do apologetics until the week before. Yes, it would have been nice for them to line up with my sermon; however, the songs still were sung to sing praises to God and worship Him – regardless of the message! If by chance you want to watch my apologetics message, I have included the link below (just copy and paste it into your web browser).
    http://sc.fhview.com/sc_customplayer/seriesitems/20110809090829B8513B/119470/20110809090829B8513B/20110810020800A140D5

    Reply

    • Posted by Lindsay on September 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Even though you did not state it in this exact way, I like that you pointed out that teaching apologetics to those in the church is also a good way of being evangelistic in a service. I think that this is a good middle ground for people like me who lean away from being purely evangelistic in a corporate worship service.

      Reply

      • Posted by Micah Murphree on September 19, 2011 at 1:02 am

        Yes, I like the middle ground myself – that is being evangelistic as well as teaching. I think it is great when those opportunties arise where you can “teach” evangelism while at the same time being evangelistic. It’s like the best of both worlds 🙂

  10. Posted by Marshall henderson on August 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Admittedly, I have though about this subject several times but have never really had the wording or framework to address it properly. In what we commonly refer to as “worship wars” there is usually an element of the battle that addresses how the style of the music reaches out to the lost or is attractive to the lost. To an extent this consideration is legitimate; as far as worship style goes, it is not a sin by any means to try to speak the language musically of contemporary culture. But the consideration does press the question of whether corporate worship is to be for the purpose of evangelism. The clear answer that the article at hand gives is no; corporate worship is for the purpose of worship, not evangelism.
    But the beauty of corporate worship is that it does serve an apologetic purpose. Unbelievers who step into a genuine corporate worship setting that is prepared in spirit and truth, wll come face to face with the truth of God in Christ. Surely the truth will be expressed in artistic ways. Surely the art will be the vehicle for the truth expressed in worship. The beauty is that real worship will confront and even pursuade the unbeliever with the same truths that would confront them in an evangelistic model.

    Reply

    • Posted by Richard Beatty on September 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      I think that when we focus on “real worship” (to use W. Wiersbe’s term) in the worship hour it is an authentic apologetic unto itself. The attempt at “reaching out” to the lost via contemporary culture methodology or music in the worship hour often feels contrived, (at least that has been my experience). I have thought to myself in these circumstances, ‘they seem to be trying too hard…’ As such it has been in these ‘worship’ experiences that I turn-off and humorously watch the hyper-emotionalism take over. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18) thus if I remain honest to the gospel message the Holy Spirit does the real work and does not need my pop psychology assistance in “winning the lost.”

      Reply

  11. I struggle with a topic like the one in this blog. My struggle concerns the stream of thought that appears to feel the church needs to categorize our corporate services as either worship experiences or evangelistic experiences. Is there some scale with worship on one end and evangelism on the other? Why can our corporate gathering not be both evangelistic and worshipful? James Emery White has an excellent book called Rethinking the Church where he works through the various functions of the church, including worship and evangelism. For many people who are outside of the Christian faith, the primary entry point into Christianity is through the Sunday worship services offered by churches. So, we better be evangelistic in those services. We are called to love people, and the only way to love people is to proclaim the truth of salvation found through Christ alone. When we meet in our services, we must worship our Creator. We are called to love Him, and the highest form of expressing our love is through worship. Why must we make the categories mutually exclusive? We worship God by publicly professing the greatness of who He is and what He has done. The truth that non-believers need to hear is the truth of who God is and what He has done. It seems to me that we can proclaim the story of God’s creation and redemption in such a way that is both evangelism and worship.

    I would also like to add that an evangelistic focus is more than dumbing down the the apologetic value of our worship. Focusing on evangelism in our worship services means changing a lot of what we do so that we present the kind of atmosphere free from barriers that would hinder a non-Christian from observing the worship of the Christians and from receiving the truth of the Gospel. White says that evangelistic worship is more about changing our manners than our message. He also says that “every service furnishes a particular environment that will either serve the evangelistic process or hinder it.” I agree with him. White also relates the three basic needs of people in the 21st century that the church needs to meet: explanation, experience, and example. When our worship services include explanations of the Christian story and why it matters, they will better meet the needs of those outside of the Christian faith and will allow Christians to worship as they re-tell the story of salvation. Our worship should be a spiritual experience where people are genuinely expressing truth that means something to them. People in the 21st century long for experiences with depth and meaning. Our worship services must provide opportunities for believers to worship in spirit and truth because non-believers want to see examples of real Christian faith actually being lived. I say we work towards making all that we do more targeted towards non-believers as an act of worship towards the one who has called us to love Him and others at all times.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Kevin Whitfield on August 30, 2011 at 2:37 am

    I appreciated Dr. Woodward’s paper. I think it hits on an issue that in our obsession with rationalism we can easily ignore. The issue is sometimes we think philosophy or hard evidence are the only legitimate approaches to apologetics. In the paper Dr. Woodward presented, we are able to widen our definition of Christian apologetics. If we as Christians really believe that it is God’s Word that changes lives and gives life, we should put greater confidence in worship services being apologetic in themselves. The services are a place where God’s people gather and as the Scriptures indicate, this is a place where God’s Spirit dwells. I can think of no better defense of the reality of God than a nonbeliever experiencing the unique Spirit present in a Christian worship service. In fact, I think this unique, sometimes emotive worship experience, can be more powerful in some sense than philosophical arguments. Particularly with unbelievers who depend on rationalism, a true emotive experience of the presence of God can be earth-shattering. I think this is a very important point. As I mentioned earlier in a reply to another post, Mark Dever suggests that inviting an unbeliever to church is part of the evangelistic process. I realize this may take time but we should work towards this, of course using other helpful apologetic methods along the way.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Beth Tucker on August 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    From a Children’s Ministry view point, worship in my eyes is always both. Many kids only come to church one week out of the year. Vacation Bible School is the biggest kid event for kids who may never come to church. If you asked any of my kiddos they would tell you our worship rally is full of their worship to God and also a way for their friends to meet the Lord for the first time. Jeff Slaughter did an excellent job with the Big Apple Adventure music this past year. Every song had a Bible verse and also encouraged kids to be witnesses for Christ as well as what it meant to be a Christ follower. I still have kids singing Live It Out. The main words were…” God is calling us all to be a part of fulfilling the mission of His heart…Live it out! Shout it Loud! Show the world what love’s about! Live it out! Shout it loud! Show the world what love’s about!” I was just at a ten year old girl’s birthday party and for music she turned on her VBS CD. For her party she asked her friends to bring pillow cases instead of presents so at her party they could make pillow case dresses for me to take to Haiti and give the kids in the orphanage. You can’t tell me our worship isn’t leading her to spread the Word and live out God’s love. Through her party more girls were shown the love of God and want to do the same thing for their birthday. Some of the girls are not attending a church but they were shown the love of Jesus through one girls action.

    Reply

    • Posted by Mike Cobb on September 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      Certainly, the Scriptures are full of admonitions to envangelize. Evangelization must be based upon sound theology. Worship that is effective will combine both elements. As seen in the article, true worship is both apologetic and evangelistic. God desires a relationship with His people, and sincere worship in spirit and in truth is a result of not only an ongoing walk with God, but also focusing worship on His Presence in the service. Worship can function as evangelization when non-believers see the Church shout out its love for the world through sincere worship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Several of the other blogs mentioned the importance of showing acceptance to those who are not believerrs. In summary, our message never changes; however, as mentioned in the article, our worship as believers will help or hinder the strength of our efforts in evangelism.

      Reply

    • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you, Beth, for your meaningful post. Many people, not just children, attend church only once a year. We must have both elements, apologetics and evangelism, if we want them to have a chance at understanding the Gospel, especially children. Glad to hear your VBS is having such an impact. May God continue to bless your church and those you reach.

      Reply

  14. Posted by Mauricka McKenzie, Sr. on September 16, 2011 at 5:10 am

    The primary focus of worship should be to honor God the Father and the Lord Jesus adn the presence of the Spirit. Evangelistic themes can be embedded to accompany the music and preaching in worship as secondary focuses. Unbelievers want to see authentic and loving people exhibit care and concern for them. Our motive for evangelism must be because God cares for the lost so we must care for unbelievers.

    Reply

    • Posted by Lindsay on September 16, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      I agree that when non-believers come to a service they are not there to be yelled at or to be made to feel guilty by another person. They are there to see what the Christian life looks like from the inside. It has been my experience that those who are warmly welcomed in the church and hear the word of God preached in a sincere way to believers ask great questions as prompted by the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. God is faithful when we keep our focus on where it is supposed to be at any given time.

      Reply

    • Posted by Micah Murphree on September 19, 2011 at 2:18 am

      I agree, we must care for the unbelievers and show them that we care about them. We show we care about them. by evangelizing to them. If we really care about people, as Christians we will share with them how they can avoid Hell. If I was an unbeliever and Christians were not sharing with me about how to avoid eternal damnation (in which they believe I am going as an unbeliever) then I would say that don’t care about me at all.

      Reply

      • Posted by Richard Beatty on September 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm

        On the flip side of the coin we need to be careful that we do not scare people into heaven. Hell is a reality but it must not be the manipulating force behind decisions to follow Christ because it tends to cheapen true discipleship. People scared into heaven often feel that they have their “fire insurance” but do nothing thereafter as it regards the whole process of sanctification. Thus our churches fill up quickly with shallow ‘Christians.’

      • Posted by Micah Murphree on October 4, 2011 at 11:21 pm

        Richard, I agree that we don’t want people to do it just so they have fire insurance but I also think Americans have watered down the gospel and Christianity so much that people don’t even realize how sinful they are and that they are going to Hell unless they have Jesus as Savior. Not sure if you have ever seen any of Kirk Cameron’s Way of the Master but so many people on there believe they are good people and will go to heaven b/c they are good people! They aren’t worried about death b/c they haven’t been told the truth!

    • Posted by Kennith Matthews on September 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      One of the easy ways to encorparate evangelism into services is through the sermon. In preaching class, we learned about preaching with a fallen condition focus. The idea being that we can find, in each passage, how man has fallen and his subsequent need for a Savior.

      Reply

  15. Posted by Richard Beatty on September 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    One of the “take away’s” in having visited other church denominations is their unflinching methodology regarding worship. The Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopal churches that I visited made no apology for who they were and how they did worship. I felt that it was up to me to conform to the way they did things and not the other way around. They were friendly and courteous but were not too concerned about my “feelings” regarding what their worship should look like. I wonder if by catering to modern evangelistic methodologies in worship, i.e. seeker sensitive services, we are not somehow feeding people’s tendency to be narcissistic? I think we all have met people in church where it is all about me… If people refuse to conform to our ways of worship it would seem to further verify Matthew 7:13-14. This is not to say we become lazy towards the Great Commission but the Great Commission is “as you are going make disciples,” i.e. in the highways and byways of life NOT in the corporate worship hour! Any thoughts on this matter??

    Reply

    • Posted by Sarah Johnson on September 20, 2011 at 7:05 pm

      Richard- The point you make about catering to the feelings and desires of a generation resonate with the thoughts that I had while I read through all of the comments that have been made. I agree that the Bible is clear that we are to be evangelistic. The Great Commission calls us all to go out and tell others about Jesus and then disciple them. I also believe that the Bible is clear that we should be apologetic. As mentioned in a previous response, this means to give a defense for something. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us. In order to share the Gospel or explain the reason for our hope, we must be encountering Christ in worship daily. As we connect to God through any of the many different modalities or styles we have discussed, we are worshiping. When others see us truly worship God, it is both evangelistic and apologetic. They see the God we are telling people about and glimpse the reason that He is our hope.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jerry Lee Kelly on September 24, 2011 at 3:32 am

      Richard, Amen. If there is an indictment against the church today, it is that we have failed miserably to share the gospel as God intended, and have set up our worship services as a magnet….a drawing card so to speak…in order to get people to come into the fellowship to hear the Word and be saved. Of course, people can be saved in a church meeting, but the true plan is for us to bear witness as we go, and you made that point. I do believe that there may be cultural differences among church bodies, but culture cannot dictate a relationship with God. I appreciate you point about encountering Christ daily. As we grow in that relationship, the aspects of witness and apologetics will grow as well.
      Jerry

      Reply

  16. Posted by Jerry Lee Kelly on September 24, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Worship, evangelization, apologetics………all theological terms that we use to try to descbribe what God is doing. As we worship (not always publicly in church), our hearts are turned to thoughts of God and what he has done through Jesus Christ. Our appreciation of those things will drive us to “do the work of an evangelist” as we are commanded to do. As we do that work, our expertise, understanding and skill of using the Scripture will become evident as we grow in the grace and truth of the Word of God. Why are we insistent on splitting up what God has so gloriously combined? It is his plan, not ours. We tend to psychoanaylze everything to the point that we feel we must be experts at everything. May I suggest that God, in his wisdom, is far more interested in our personal worship with him than he is in our adaption of methods and plans? If the church would be true to its command to make disciples, and that does not mean a one time act when somebody is saved, we would be so motivated that schools could not hold the students. Our churches would be full of people who have a true hunger and thirst for the Word, and the lost who come in would be amazed at the enthusiasm they witness. Yes, the church is a hospital for hurting saints, yes, the church is a place where the gospel message can find a willing target, yes, as we make disciples within the church they will grow in their knowledge of the reasons for their faith (real apologetics). The mandate of believers is to make disciples as they are going….going through their lives…and to continue to disciple others. The church has lost sight of its mission to train. It is a sad commentary that most people could name at least half a dozen professional sports teams of some type, but probably could not name half a dozen of the apostles, let alone the ten commandments. May God forgive us for being so lax in our church ministry and burden us with a compassionate love to share his grace and mercy not only to the lost but to the body of Christ.
    Jerry Lee Kelly

    Reply

  17. […] “Apologetics and Worship,” and “Trying Too Hard to Market to Millennial Males Can Backfire,” by Greg Woodward at the (i)ncarnation of worship blog. The first post includes a link to a thoughtful article comparing Apologetics approaches with worship styles, using the Boa and Bowman taxonomy of Reformed Apologetics, Evidentialist Apologetics, Classical Apologetics, Fideist Apologetics, and an integrated approach. The second article addresses being overly concerned with marketing to a particular age group in worship, especially by use of racy language and other such behaviors. The 62 responses to the first article and the 34 comments to the second article are worth reading. […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: