Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Pastor Leading God-Centered Worship

Last night I leafed through John H. Armstrong (ed), Reforming Pastoral Ministry, noting things that caught my attention a few years ago when I first read the book. The book looks like it was highlighted with a rainbow! At any rate, one thing that struck me afresh was a short section in Jerry Marcellino's contribution, "Leading the Church in God-Centered Worship: The Pastoral Role" (pp. 129-146). It's helpful reminder of what we work and long for in our gathered assemblies.

Therefore, leading our flocks in the offering of true worship to the living God, in both spirit and truth (John 4:24), with Christ's gathered church, is surely to be the aim of every authentic minister of the new covenant (2 Cor. 3:6). Such a minister is continuously marked by setting before his heart the salvation of lost sinners and the maturation of Christ's sheep, especially on each Lord's Day, for the purpose of building a God-centered climate and culture. Recently I had the privilege of reading a Third-World missionary church planter's prayer letter that echoed similar aims: "...longing for a God-centered, Christ-exalting, vibrant Biblical church... may we go on to become not merely a legally recognized church, but one recognized in heaven for consistently worshipping God in spirit and truth!"

As a result, leading your church toward a more God-centered worship service is easier said than done. Great patience with God's people and much prayer, coupled with sound and pertinent exposition, must be your overall general guiding rules for such reformation. There are numerous reasons for this approach, and the purpose of this chapter is to discuss them and then point the way ahead. (p. 131)

Later Marcellino summarized:

May God help us to lead our congregations to such God-centered worship that not only our visitors but all who regularly attend our services in an unconverted state may fall down and worship God! (p. 140)

That's a great prayer to offer for every Lord's Day.


Anonymous said...

These are excellent insights. I think the hardest thing for a church to do is to be formed according to the character of Christ rather than the character of the pastor.

FellowElder said...

I agree. A pastor pressing his character onto a congregation is almost inescapable as they listen to him expound the word weekly and look to him in knowing and unknowing ways as an example. That's why I think it's imperative that churches do two things:
1. Call men who are and with increasing measure molded by Christ and his character; and
2. Call a plurality of such men to serve so that the character of Christ is seen in multiple characters instead of the idiosyncracies of one.

Calling elders/pastors is the most important decision a congregation makes.