二○一九年六月八日／六月九日 Click here for English version
Worship Services are Not Entertainment
Rev Stera Chan
"It is boring!" It is often what I hear from children while checking out Sunday School classes. Almost every time after saying it, the children will demand the teachers to, for example, choose another song or do another activity. The feeling of boredom sinks in because they are not getting what they want.
"It is boring!" Don't we often say or think the same? It is also what I hear from people sometimes when they comment on worship services or explain why they do not attend a particular worship service.
Recently, I watched a news report on TV about the use of the Internet and electronic screen products by preschool children. In one of the scenes, a girl kept crying and could not sit still, so the mother gave her an electronic tablet. Immediately, the girl became silent and her eyes were fixed on the screen. What was shown on the screen had captured her full interest and attention.
We are also attracted to the screens on our gadgets or in the theatre because they stimulate our brains and senses to give us amusement. That is the power of entertainment.
However, worship services are not entertainment. To say that worship services are "boring" implies that we can evaluate them in the same way we appraise TV shows, movies, music, and other forms of entertainment. To do so means we do not understand what worship services are all about.
In entertainment, we are passive spectators, watching others playing for us and waiting to be provided with pleasure. However, we are active participants in worship services. The root meaning of the Hebrew word for "worship" is "to prostrate." In worship, it is always God we are worshiping. We bow down before Him for who He is and what He has done, and our only goal is to glorify Him. Worship is not for our satisfaction (though that is often a result of our worship). Rather, with all our hearts and minds we are to actively give God all the thanks, praises and worship that are due to Him.
There is an increasing trend of "evaluating" a worship service based on music. Sometimes I hear comments about how good it is that our English Worship Service can use musical instruments such as drums and guitars, as it is more uplifting and enthusing (perhaps entertaining as well?). Yet, my observations and experiences tell that singing contemporary songs and using more kinds of musical instruments does not necessarily mean lives transformed to be more like our Lord Jesus – the same case for singing traditional hymns and using the organ. What matters is the worshiper – why and how s/he comes to the worship service.
While the church needs to humbly seek the Holy Spirit's guidance for worship renewal, each member in the NPAC family also needs His help to be a true worshiper the Father seeks – to worship in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
May our worship services be pleasing and fragrant sacrifices to God!