ORDER OF WORSHIP SERVICE #2
METHODIST AND FRONTIER-REVIVAL CONTRIBUTIONS
Eighteenth-century Methodists brought to the Protestant order of worship an emotional dimension. People were invited to sing loudly with vigor and fervor. In this way, the Methodists were the forerunners of the Pentecostals.
Like the Puritans, the Methodists spiced up the pastor's Sunday morning pre-sermon prayer. The Methodist clerical prayer was long and universal in its scope. It swallowed up all other prayers, covering the waterfront of confession, intercession, and praise. But more importantly, it was always offered up in Elizabethan English (i.e., Thee, Thou, Thy, etc.).96
Even today, in the twenty-first century, the Elizabethan pastoral prayer lives and breathes.97 Many contemporary pastors still pray in this outdated language—even though it has been a dead dialect for four hundred years! Why? Because of the power of tradition.
The Methodists also popularized the Sunday evening worship service. The discovery of incandescent gas as a means of lighting enabled John Wesley (1703-1791) to make this innovation popular.98 Today, many Protestant churches have a Sunday evening service—even though it is typically poorly attended.
The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries brought a new challenge to American Protestantism. It was the pressure to conform to the ever-popular American Frontier-Revivalist services. These services greatiy influenced the order of worship for scores of churches. Even today, the changes they injected into the bloodstream of American Protestantism are evident.
First, the Frontier-Revivalists changed the goal of preaching. They preached exclusively with one aim: to convert lost souls. To the mind of a Frontier-Revivalist, nothing beyond salvation was involved in God's plan.100 Salvation was God's supreme purpose for church and all of life. This emphasis finds its seeds in the innovative preaching of George Whitefield (1714-1770).101 Whitefield was the first modern-day evangelist to preach to outdoor crowds in the open air.102 He is the man that shifted the emphasis in preaching from God's plans for the church to God's plans for the individual. The popular notion that "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" became prominent after Whitefield.103
Second, Frontier-Revivalist music spoke to the soul and sought to elicit an emotional response to the salvation message.104 All the great revivalists had a musician on their team for this purpose.105 Worship began to be viewed as primarily individualistic, subjective, and emotional.106 This shift in emphasis was picked up by the Methodists, and it began to penetrate many other Protestant subcultures. The main goal of the church shifted from experiencing and expressing the Lord Jesus Christ corporately to the making of individual converts. In doing so, the church by and large lost sight of the fact that while Christ's atonement is absolutely essential to getting humanity back on track and restoring our relationship with God, it is not His sole purpose. God has an eternal purpose that goes beyond salvation. That purpose has to do with enlarging the eternal fellowship He has with His Son and making it visible on planet Earth. The theology of revivalism did not discuss God's eternal purpose and put little to no emphasis on the church.107
Methodist choral music was designed to soften the hard hearts of sinners. Lyrics began to reflect the individual salvation experience as well as personal testimony.108 Charles Wesley (1707-1788) is credited for being the first to write invitational hymns.109
Pastors who gear their Sunday morning sermons exclusively toward winning the lost still reflect the revivalist influence.110 This influence has pervaded the majority of today's television and radio evangelism. Many Protestant churches (not just Pentecostal and charismatic) begin their services with rousing songs to prepare people for the emotionally targeted sermon. But few people know that this tradition began with the Frontier-Revivalists little more than a century ago.
Third, the Methodists and the Frontier-Revivalists gave birth to the "altar call." This practice began with the Methodists in the eighteenth century.111 The practice of inviting people who want prayer to stand to their feet and walk to the front to receive prayer was given to us by a Methodist evangelist named Lorenzo Dow.112
Later, in 1807 in England, the Methodists created the "mourner's bench."113 Anxious sinners now had a place to mourn for their sins when they were invited to walk down the sawdust trail. This method reached the United States a few years later and was given the name the "anxious bench" by Charles Finney (1792-1875).114 The "anxious bench" was located in the front where preachers stood on an erected platform.115 It was there that both sinners and needy saints were called forward to receive the minister's prayers.116 Finney's method was to ask those who wished to be saved to stand up and come forward. Finney made this method so popular that "after 1835, it was an indispensable fixture of modern revivals."117
Finney later abandoned the anxious seat and simply invited sinners to come forward into the aisles and kneel at the front of the platform to receive Christ.118 Aside from popularizing the altar call, Finney is credited with inventing the practice of praying for persons by name, mobilizing groups of workers to visit homes, and displacing the routine services of the church with special services every night of the week. In time, the "anxious bench" in the outdoor camp meeting was replaced by the "altar" in the church building. The "sawdust trail" was replaced by the church aisle. And so was born the famous "altar call."119
Perhaps the most lasting element that Finney unwittingly contributed to contemporary Christianity was pragmatism. Pragmatism is the philosophy that teaches that if something works, it should be embraced regardless of ethical considerations. Finney believed that the New Testament did not teach any prescribed forms of worship.120 He taught that the sole purpose of preaching was to win converts. Any devices that helped accomplish that goal were acceptable.121 Under Finney, eighteenth-century revivalism was turned into a science and brought into mainstream churches.122
Contemporary Christianity still reflects this ideology. Pragmatism is unspiritual, not just because it encourages ethical considerations to be secondary, but because it depends on techniques rather than on God to produce the desired effects. Genuine spirituality is marked by the realization that in spiritual things, we mortals are utterly and completely dependent on the Lord. Recall the Lord's word that "unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1, esv) and "without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). Unfortunately, pragmatism ("if it works let's do it"), not biblical principle or spirituality, governs the activities of many present-day churches. (Many "seeker sensitive" churches have excelled at following in Finney's footsteps.) Pragmatism is harmful because it teaches "the end justifies the means." If the end is considered "holy," just about any "means" are acceptable.
The philosophy of pragmatism opens the door for human manipulation and a complete reliance upon oneself rather than upon God. Note that there is a monumental difference between well-motivated humans working for God in their own strength, wisdom, and power versus God working through humans.123
Because of his far-reaching impact, Charles Finney has been called "the most influential liturgical Reformer in American history."124 Finney believed that the revivalist methods that worked in his camp meetings could be imported into the Protestant churches to bring revival there. This notion was popularized and put into the Protestant mind-set via his 1835 book Lectures on Revival. To the contemporary Protestant mind, doctrine must be vigorously checked with Scripture before it is accepted. But when it comes to church practice, just about anything is acceptable as long as it works to win converts.
In all of these ways, American Frontier-Revivalism turned church into a preaching station. It reduced the experience of the ekklesia into an evangelistic mission.125 It normalized Finney's revivalist methods and created pulpit personalities as the dominating attraction for church. It also made the church an individualistic affair rather than a corporate one.
Put differently, the goal of the Frontier-Revivalists was to bring individual sinners to an individual decision for an individualistic faith.126 As a result, the goal of the early church—mutual edification and every-member functioning to corporately manifest Jesus Christ before principalities and powers—was altogether lost.127 Ironically, John Wesley, an early revivalist, understood the dangers of the revivalist movement. He wrote, "Christianity is essentially a social religion ... to turn it into a solitary religion is indeed to destroy it."128 With Albert Blake Dick's invention of stencil duplicating in 1884, the order of worship began to be printed and distributed.129 Thus was born the famous "Sunday morning bulletin."130
THE STAGGERING INFLUENCE OF D. L. MOODY
The seeds of the "revivalist gospel" were spread throughout the Western world by the mammoth influence of D. L. Moody (1837-1899).
He traveled more than one million miles and preached to more than 100 million people—in the century before airplanes, microphones, television, or the Internet. Moody's gospel, like Whitefield's, had but one center—salvation for the sinner. He preached the gospel with a focus on individuals, and his theology was encapsulated in the three Rs: ruined by sin, redeemed by Christ, and regenerated by the Spirit. While those are certainly critical elements of the faith, Moody apparently did not recognize that the eternal purpose of God goes far beyond redemption.131
Moody's preaching was dominated by this single interest— individual salvation. He instituted the solo hymn that followed the pastor's sermon. The invitational solo hymn was sung by a soloist until George Beverly Shea encouraged Billy Graham to employ a choir to sing songs like "Just As I Am" as people came forward to receive Christ.132
Moody gave us door-to-door witnessing and evangelistic advertising/ campaigning.133 He gave us the "gospel song" or "gospel hymn."134 And he popularized the "decision card," an invention of Absalom B. Earie (1812-1895).135
In addition, Moody was the first to ask those who wanted to be saved to stand up from their seats and be led in a "sinner's prayer."13 Some fifty years later, Billy Graham upgraded Moody's technique. He introduced the practice of asking the audience to bow their heads, close their eyes ("with no one looking around"), and raise their hands in response to the salvation message.137 (All of these methods have met fierce opposition by those who argue that they are psychologically manipulative.)138
For Moody, "the church was a voluntary association of the saved."139 So staggering was his influence that by 1874 the church was not seen as a grand corporate body but as a gathering of individuals.140 This emphasis was picked up by every revivalist who followed him.141 And it eventually entered into the marrow and bones of evangelical Christianity.
It is also worth noting that Moody was heavily influenced by the Plymouth Brethren teaching on the end times. This was the teaching that Christ may return at any second before the great Tribulation. (This teaching is also called "pretribulational dispensationalism.")142
(ALSO KNOWN AS THE "RAPTURE" OR TO PUT IT AS IT ACTUALLY TEACHES "A SECRET RAPTURE" - A TEACHING THAT CHRIST CAN COME ANY SECOND, INVISIBLY TO TAKE THE SAINTS TO HEAVEN AND SO MISS THE GREAT TRIBULATION ON EARTH; THEN EITHER 7 YEARS OR 3 AND 1/2 YEARS LATER [DEPENDING ON THE RAPTURE TEACHER] CHRIST WILL RETURN VISIBLY WITH THE SAINTS TO EARTH. THE SECRET RAPTURE IDEA I BLOW TO A THOUSAND PIECES AS PLANET PLUTO TEACHING, UNDER THE "PROPHECY" SECTION OF THIS WEBSITE - Keith Hunt)
Pretribulational dispensationalism gave rise to the idea that Christians must act quickly to save as many souls as possible before the world ends.143 With the founding of the Student Volunteer Movement by John Mott in 1888, a related idea sprang forth: "The evangelization of the world in one generation."144 The "in one generation" watchword still lives and breathes in the church today.145 Yet it does not map well with the mind-set of the first-century Christians who did not appear to be pressured into trying to get the entire world saved in one generation.146
(NO BECAUSE THEY KNEW GOD WAS NOT TRYING TO SAVE THE WHOLE WORLD IN ONE GENERATION. THEY KNEW GOD HAD A PLAN OF SALVATION FOR EVERYONE IN DUE TIME. FULLY EXPLAINED IN STUDIES ON THIS WEBSITE - Keith Hunt)
THE PENTECOSTAL CONTRIBUTION
Beginning around 1906, the Pentecostal movement gave us a more emotional expression of congregational singing. This included the lifting of one's hands, dancing in pews, clapping, speaking in tongues, and the use of tambourines. The Pentecostal expression was in harmony with its emphasis on the ecstatic working of the Holy Spirit.
What few people realize is that if you removed the emotional features from a Pentecostal church service, it would look just like a Baptist liturgy. Thus no matter how loudly Pentecostals claim that they are following New Testament patterns, the typical Pentecostal or charismatic church follows the same order of worship as do most other Protestant bodies. There is simply more freedom for emotional expression in the pew.
Another interesting feature of Pentecostal worship occurs during the song service. Sometimes the singing will be punctuated by an occasional utterance in tongues, an interpretation of tongues, or word of "prophecy." But such utterances rarely last more than a minute or two. Such a pinched form of open participation cannot accurately be called "body ministry."147 The Pentecostal tradition also gave us solo or choral musk (often tagged as "special music") that accompanies the offering.148
As in all Protestant churches, the sermon is the climax of the Pentecostal meeting. However, in the garden-variety Pentecostal church, the pastor will sometimes "feel the Spirit moving." At such times he will suspend his sermon until the following week. The congregation will then sing and pray for the rest of the service. For many Pentecostals, this is the pinnacle of a great church service.
The way congregants describe these special services is fascinating. They typically say, "The Holy Spirit led our meeting this week Pastor Cheswald did not get to preach." Whenever such a remark is made, it begs the question, Isn't the Holy Spirit supposed to lead all of our church meetings? Even so, as a result of being born in the afterglow of Frontier-Revivalism, Pentecostal worship is highly subjective and individualistic.149 In the mind of the Pentecostal, as in the minds of most other Protestants, worshipping God is not a corporate affair, but a solo experience.150
MANY ADJUSTMENTS, NO VITAL CHANGE
Our study of the liturgical history of the Lutherans (sixteenth century), Reformed (sixteenth century), Puritans (seventeenth century), Methodists (eighteenth century), Frontier-Revivalists (eighteenth to nineteenth centuries), and Pentecostals (twentieth century) uncovers one inescapable point. For the vast five hundred years, the Protestant order of worship has undergone minimal change.
In the end, all Protestant traditions share the same unbiblical features in their order of worship: They are officiated and directed by a clergyman, they make the sermon central, and the people are passive and not permitted to minister.152
The Reformers accomplished a great deal in changing the theology of Roman Catholicism. But in terms of actual practice, they made only minor adjustments that did little to bring worship back to the New Testament model. The result: God's people have never broken free from the liturgical constraints they inherited from Roman Catholicism.153
As one author put it, "The Reformers accepted in substance the ancient Catholic pattern of worship154... the basic structures of their services were almost universally taken from the late medieval orders of various sorts."155
In the end, then, the Reformers reformed the Catholic liturgy-only slightly. Their main contribution was in changing the central focus. In the words of one scholar, "Catholicism increasingly followed the path of the [pagan] cults in making a rite the center of its activities, and Protestantism followed the path of the synagogue in placing the book at the center of its services."156 Unfortunately, neither Catholics nor Protestants were successful in allowing Jesus Christ to be the center and head of their gatherings. Nor were they successful at liberating and unleashing the body of Christ to minister one to another in the gathering, as the New Testament envisions.
Because of the Reformation, the Bible replaced the Eucharist and the pastor replaced the priest. But there is still a person directing God's people, rendering them as silent spectators. The centrality of the Author of the Book was never restored. Hence, the Reformers dramatically failed to put their finger on the nerve of the original problem: a clergy-led worship service attended by a passive laity.157 It is not surprising, then, that the Reformers viewed themselves as reformed Catholics.158
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
It is clear that the Protestant order of worship did not originate with the Lord Jesus, the apostles, or the New Testament Scriptures.159 This in itself does not make the order of worship misguided. It just means it has no biblical basis.
The use of chairs and pile carpets in Christian gatherings has no biblical support either. And both were invented by pagans.160 Nonetheless, who would claim that sitting in chairs or using carpets is "wrong" simply because they are postbiblical inventions authored by pagans?
The fact is that we do many things in our culture that have pagan roots. Consider our accepted calendar. The days of our week and the months of our year are named after pagan gods.161 But using the accepted calendar does not make us pagans.162
So why is the Sunday morning order of worship a different matter than the type of chairs and carpeting we use in the place we worship? Not only is the traditional order of service unscriptural and heavily influenced by paganism (which runs contrary to what is often preached from the pulpit), it does not lead to the spiritual growth God intended.163 Consider the following.
First, the Protestant order of worship represses mutual participation and the growth of Christian community. It puts a choke hold on the functioning of the body of Christ by silencing its members. There is absolutely no room for anyone to give a word of exhortation, share an insight, start or introduce a song, or spontaneously lead a prayer. You are forced to be a muted, staid pewholder! You are prevented from being enriched by the other members of the body as well as being able to enrich them yourself.
Like every other "lay person," you may open your mouth only during the congregational singing or prayer. (If you happen to be part of a typical Pentecostal/charismatic church, you may be permitted to give a one-minute ecstatic utterance. But then you must sit down and be quiet.)
Even though open sharing in a church meeting is completely scriptural,164 you would be breaking the liturgy if you dared try something so outrageous! You would be considered "out of order" and asked to behave yourself or leave.
Second, the Protestant order of worship strangles the headship of Jesus Christ.165 The entire service is directed by one person. You are limited to the knowledge, gifting, and experience of one member of the body—the pastor. Where is the freedom for our Lord Jesus to speak through His body at will? Where in the liturgy may God give a brother or a sister a word to share with the whole congregation? The order of worship allows for no such thing. Jesus Christ has no freedom to express Himself through His body at His discretion. He too is rendered a passive spectator.
Granted, Christ may be able to express Himself through one or two members of the church—usually the pastor and the music leader. But this is a very limited expression. The Lord is stifled from manifesting Himself through the other members of the body. Consequently, the Protestant liturgy cripples the body of Christ. It turns it into one huge tongue (the pastor) and many little ears (the congregation). This does violence to Paul's vision of the body of Christ, where every member functions in the church meeting for the common good (see 1 Corinthians 12).
(PAUL CLEARLY IN CHAPTER 14 LAYS DOWN ORDER AND LIMITS, IF YOU ARE WILLING TO READ IT AS THE WORDS CLEARLY STATE - Keith Hunt)
Third, for many Christians, the Sunday morning service is shamefully boring. It is without variety or spontaneity. It is highly predictable, highly perfunctory, and highly mechanical. There is little in the way of freshness or innovation. It has remained frozen for centuries. Put bluntly, the order of worship embodies the ambiguous power of the rote. And the rote very quickly decays into the routine, which in turn becomes tired, meaningless, and ultimately invisible.
Seeker-sensitive churches have recognized the sterile nature of the contemporary church service. In response, they have incorporated a vast array of media and theatrical modernizations into the liturgy. This is done to market worship to the unchurched. Employing the latest electronic technology, seeker-sensitive churches have been successful at swelling their ranks. As a result, they have garnered a large portion of the American Protestant market share.166
But despite the added entertainment it affords, the market-driven seeker-sensitive service is still held captive by the pastor, the threefold "hymn sandwich" remains intact, and the congregants continue to be muted spectators (only they are more entertained in their spectating).167
(THE SO-CALLED "THREEFOLD HYMN SANDWICH" HAS BEEN DONE AWAY WITH IN MANY "ENTERTAINMENT" CHURCHES, AND MANY INNOVATIONS LIKE ROCK BANDS HAVE TAKEN OVER, BUT THE MAIN POINT REMAINS, CONGREGANTS CONTINUE TO BE MUTED AND ARE SPECTATORS ONLY - Keith Hunt)
Fourth, the Protestant liturgy that you quietly sit through every Sunday, year after year, actually hinders spiritual transformation. It does so because (1) it encourages passivity, (2) it limits functioning, and (3) it implies that putting in one hour per week is the key to the victorious Christian life.
Every Sunday you attend the service to be bandaged and recharged, like all other wounded soldiers. Far too often, however, the bandaging and the recharging never takes place. The reason is quite simple. The New Testament never links sitting through an ossified ritual that we mislabel "church" as having anything to do with spiritual transformation. We grow by functioning, not by passively watching and listening.
Let's face it. The Protestant order of worship is largely unscriptural, impractical, and unspiritual. It has no analog in the New Testament. Rather, it finds its roots in the culture of fallen man.168 It rips at the heart of primitive Christianity, which was informal and free of ritual. Five centuries after the Reformation, the Protestant order of worship still varies little from the Catholic Mass—a religious ritual that is a fusion of pagan and Judaistic elements.
As one liturgical scholar put it, "The history of Christian worship is the story of the give and take between cult and culture. As the gospel was preached in different times and places, missionaries brought with them the forms and styles of worship with which they were familiar."169
I (Frank) am no armchair liturgist. What I have written abont open meetings under the headship of Christ is not fanciful theory. I have participated in such meetings for the last nineteen years.
Such meetings are marked by incredible variety. They are not bound to a one-man, pulpit-dominated pattern of worship. There is a great deal of spontaneity, creativity, and freshness. The overarching hallmark of these meetings is the visible headship of Christ and the free yet orderly functioning of the body of Christ. I was in such a meeting not too long ago. Let me describe it to you.
About thirty of us gathered together in a home and greeted one another. Some of us stepped into the center of the living room and began singing a capella. Quickly, the entire church was singing in unison, arms around one another. Someone else began another song, and we all joined in. Between each song, prayers were uttered by different people. Some of the songs had been written by the members themselves. We sang several of the songs several times. Some people turned the words of the songs into prayers. On several occasions, a few of the members exhorted the church in relation to what we had just sung.
After we sang, rejoiced, spontaneously prayed, and exhorted one another, we sat down. Then, very quickly, a woman stood and began explaining what the Lord had showed her during the week. She spoke for about three minutes. After she sat down, a man stood up and shared a portion of Scripture and exalted the Lord Jesus through it. Next another gentleman stood up to add a few very edifying words to what he said. A woman then broke into a new song that went right along with what the two men had just shared. The whole church sang with her. Another woman stood and read a poem that the Lord had given her during the week . . . and it meshed perfectly with what the others had shared up to that point.
One by one, brothers and sisters in Christ stood up to tell us what they had experienced in their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ that week. Exhortations, teaching, encouragements, poems, songs, and testimonies all followed one right after the other. And a common theme, one that revealed the glories of Jesus Christ, emerged. Some of those gathered wept.
(THIS DESCRIPTION IS NOT THE PRACTICE OF WHAT PAUL TAUGHT IN 1 COR. 14. A FREE-FOR-ALL WITH WOMEN NOT REMAINING SILENT, IS CONTRARY TO THE TEACHING OF WHAT PAUL WAS INSPIRED TO WRITE - Keith Hunt)
None of this was rehearsed, prescribed, or planned. Yet the meeting was electric. It was so rich, so glorious, and so edifying that it became evident to everyone that someone was indeed leading the meeting. But He was not visible. It was the Lord Jesus Christ! His headship was being made manifest among His people. We were reminded again that He in fact is alive . . . alive enough to direct His church.
(IF PAUL'S INSTRUCTIONS ARE NOT FOLLOWED, THEN WE HAVE TO QUESTION WHO REALLY IS DOING THE LEADING. TO SAY IT IS CHRIST IS EASY TO SAY, WORDS ARE EASY TO SAY; WORDS DO NOT MAY IT SO. TRUTH AND ORDER MAKE IT SO - Keith Hunt)
The New Testament is not silent with respect to how we Christians are to meet. Shall we, therefore, opt for man's tradition when it clearly runs contrary to God's thought for His church? Shall we continue to undermine the functioning headship of Christ for the sake of our sacrosanct liturgy? Is the church of Jesus Christ the pillar and ground of truth or the defender of man's tradition (1 Timothy 3:15)?
Perhaps the only sure way to thaw out God's frozen people is to make a dramatic break with the Sunday morning ritual. May we not be found guilty of our Lord's bone-rattling words: "Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition."170
BUT WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL IN THROWING OUT THE DIRTY WATER, WE DO NOT THROW OUT THE BABY AS WELL. PAUL WAS INSPIRED TO GIVE ORDER AND LIMITS. ALL FULLY EXPLAINED UNDER THE SECTION "CHURCH GOVERNMENT" ON THIS WEBSITE. THE AUTHORS OF THIS BOOK DO NOT BELIEVE IN AN "ORDAINED" ELDER MINISTRY..... ONE HUGE MISTAKE ON THEIR PART. THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH WOULD BE IN CHARGE OF THE OVERALL "DIVINE WORSHIP SERVICE" TO SEE THAT ORDER AND LIMITS AS INSTRUCTED BY PAUL ARE OBEYED.
TO BE CONTINUED