I have a nit to pick concerning our Sunday morning corporate worship service. Before I lay out the nit, let me first explain that we attend a fairly formal Reformed church that is steeped in the traditions of Presbyterianism. We Presbyterians have been laughingly described as folk who wouldn’t recognize an emotion if it hit us in the face. Supposedly, we are a very unemotional lot. Presbyterian worship services in the past have been described as stodgy, dull, boring, prudish, and reserved to say the very best.
Well times, "they are a changing"! First, a little more background. My wife and I recently built a home theatre in our basement. At the urging of my son I was encouraged to purchase the very best sound system since this component is the one that makes the movies really, really come to life. Well, not being able to afford the "very best" we invested in what I would call a very good sound system. Especially the "sub-woofer". A sub-woofer is the speaker that picks up those deep, deep bass sounds that can literally vibrate through your body. Powerful, powerful stuff!
What does this have to do with "corporate worship"? Here’s my "nit". Lately I have noticed that corporate worship appears to be devolving into individual worship. Sunday’s service is a typical example. When the choir or the orchestra (on special Sunday’s) hit that highest crescendo during a worship song the "sub-woofer" effect takes place and someone feels compelled to jump to their feet. Now, the entire congregation is worshiping in a seated position. When the "sub-woofer" effect compels this person to stand, the people around her/him also feel obligated to stand. And like dominos that have faltered halfway through their tumble, part of the congregation is standing and part are seated. Very confusing. Is this fleshly-individual worship? Bear in mind this urge never, never happens at the solemn reading of the Word. Never, never happens during prayer. Never, never happens during worship with tithes and offerings...but this "moving of the spirit" happens only when the "sub-woofer" effect occurs during an emotional song. Fleshly? I’ll let you decide. Pickin’ nits? Yes. Is there a noticeable drift toward individualistic worship?
You must understand that I am over 50....well over 50. This age factor may explain my concern. I do however, long for corporate worship in spirit and in truth and.... With Reverence and Awe...which, by the way, is a plug for a book I just read by D.G. Hart and John R. Muether by this name. This book is approximately 200 pages long and outlines the essentials for Reformed worship. I’ll end the picking of my "nit’ with a quote from the book, pg. 139: "...the means of grace are fundamentally corporate in character. When we come to worship, we are not engaging in an individual experience. Public worship is always in the company of the saints, and its activities are for the participation of the whole congregation."