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10 Things You Need To Know About Leading Worship (But No One Had The Courage To Tell You)

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cowardly lionWe sometimes wince when Christians commit the following mistakes. But we cringe when they make the following mistakes during the worship assembly. If you are a member of the Lord’s Church – especially if you teach class, make announcements, read, pray, or lead the communion of the Lord’s Supper – please consider the following observations. Some just don’t know any better, and we sympathize and love them. We all have room to grow (especially me!). So, where can we start?

1. John wrote the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Please keep “Revelation” in the singular, as John did (Rev. 1:1). There is no need to ever say “Revelations 3…” (Though it may give you several revelations!).

2. While we are talking about extra S’s, please remember that the book of Psalms in the Bible contains 150 psalms. Each chapter in the book of Psalms is an individual psalm. So even though we call the book “Psalms,” when directing the audience to turn to a specific psalm, you will only want to say “Psalm 23” or “Psalm 119,” never “Psalms 23” or “Psalms 119.”

3. Jesus is not talking about the Lord’s Supper in John 6:53-58. Rather, He is using the unbelieving Jews’ reference to manna as a metaphor for how His teachings need to be internalized to be effective. So, please do not ever [ever, ever, ever] use this text to prepare the minds of those in attendance for the Lord’s Supper.

4. Following the same theme as the last point, singing “Break Thou The Bread Of Life” in anticipation of Lord’s Supper is also a mistake (though I doubt you will get struck by lightning). The song is not asking Jesus to serve us the Lord’s Supper, but to feed us the Truth of His Word.   

5. The second verse (unless the editor has removed it from your hymn book) of “Jesus Is Coming Soon” is premillennial. While I think poetic license permits us to sing “Jesus is coming soon” (so long as we acknowledge in reality, He might not be coming soon), the second stanza contains flat out error. It reads: “Love of so many cold, losing their home of gold, this in God’s Word is told, evils abound, when these signs come to pass, nearing the end at last, it will come very fast, trumpets will sound.” When we sing about “signs” pointing to the ‘end times,’ we are teaching that there will be signs that indicate when Jesus will return again – which is error (Matt. 24:43; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). R.E. Winsett, the author of the song, was openly premillennial and a member of the 7th Day denomination of the Church of God. 

Remember, God wants His worship to be in truth (John 4:24). Therefore, if a song does not harmonize with the teachings of His Word, He will not accept it.

6. Please do not use the phrase “other denominations.” Just say “denominations.” Saying “other” suggests that we – the Lord’s Church – are a denomination (just like the Baptist or Methodist churches down the road). By saying “other denominations,” you have single-handedly undermined the work of countless Christians before you who have diligently tried to restore the pre-denominational Christianity of the New Testament Church.

7. To the same tune as the last point, there is no need to refer to someone as being “Church of Christ.” I, nor you, should ever want to be “Church of Christ.” There are Baptists, there are Catholics, and there are Lutherans, but there should not be “Church of Christers.” We should only be called Christians, since that is the title we find in the New Testament. All New Testament Christians are members of the Church that belongs to Christ. 

When we say someone is “Church of Christ,” we are again single-handedly undermining the efforts of our faithful brethren in past generations who fought so hard to restore the primitive Christianity of the 1st century Church. In fact, it is a good practice to describe your congregation with a little “c” rather than a capital “C” (this is merely a scruple of mine). Doing so serves as a little reminder of our identity. Since the church I am blessed to minister to aims to be distinctively pre-denominational, I tell people I preach at Cedar Springs “church of Christ.” We don’t have a name; we just have a description. We are not a flavor of Christianity; we are a congregation (or church) of the one Church started by Christ (Matthew 16:18; Eph. 4:4).

8. When leading a prayer, remember that clichés and vain repetitions have been out of style since Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:7. If you can find it in you, try not to use common prayer phrases like “guide, guard, and direct,” “nourish our bodies,” “bring us back at the next appointed time,” etc. While I am not questioning your mindset when you use common phrases like these, I know it is exceedingly easy to fall into the rut of not even thinking about the words we pray. It may not be your problem, but it is a human problem. Praying needs to be deliberate, so try mixing your words up in the future. Make your prayers uniquely yours by praying from the heart, not parroting the prayers you heard growing up.

9. Concerning public prayers, please do not pray “be with those who are sick of this congregation.” I do not think it means what you think it means.

10. Please do not call the preacher the “pastor.” He’s probably not a pastor, and if he is, he is certainly not the pastor. Pastors, or elders, are always mentioned in the New Testament as a plurality. And unless the church has appointed the preacher as an elder because he meets the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, he is just a preacher. Let’s make sure we are doing (and saying) Bible things in Bible ways. 

When we come before the Throne of God in corporate worship, we are – even at our best – unworthy. I understand some of these mistakes may be small matters (while others may point to larger matters) that make little difference in our walk with Christ. But as a humble servant of God, you will want to keep learning His Will so you can offer your best at every worship service (Col. 3:23).

What else would you add to this list of things  people often don’t have the courage to say?

(Your comments are welcome and encouraged, even if they are in disagreement. However, please keep your comments relevant to the article. For my full comment policy, click here.)

 

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43 Responses to 10 Things You Need To Know About Leading Worship (But No One Had The Courage To Tell You)

  1. WVmom March 18, 2014 at 12:16 PM #

    Referring to the building as the “church”…….I know that most people understand that the church is the people of the congregation and not the building……yet it I hear it often during announcements. “The teens will be meeting at the church before going to the devo.”

  2. Tony Williams March 18, 2014 at 12:16 PM #

    Well,as long as we are being completely accurate, your comment that “each chapter in the book of Psalms” is in error. The book of Psalms does not contain chapters. If you believe I am making too fine a point, imagine how others may react to your words. This post is condescending at best and insulting at worst.

  3. Baxter Exum March 18, 2014 at 12:26 PM #

    Thanks for the interesting comments! Concerning a phrase in #3: I’ve always understood that there may be some Biblical significance to the fact that “teaching” (singular) almost always refers to true teaching, and that “teachings” (plural) usually refers to false teachings. There is only one true “teaching,” but there are many false “teachings.” The same may be said of gospel vs. gospels. There are not many “gospels” (plural); instead, there is only one “gospel” (singular) – cf. “a different gospel” in Galatians 1:6. Yes, we have four gospel accounts (MMLJ), but the good news they describe is singular and unified. Again, thanks for your interesting thoughts!

  4. Luke Dockery March 18, 2014 at 12:32 PM #

    Some of the things you refer to here are truly cringe-worthy, but respectfully, I would disagree with #3. I don’t disagree with your characterization of Jesus’ reference to manna and the conclusions He makes from that, but more with your suggestion that since He refers to that, He couldn’t also be alluding to the Lord’s Supper (i.e., is it an either/or or a both/and?).

    In my estimation, it would be very, very hard for Jesus’ disciples (and the original readers of John’s Gospel, and a lot of people today) to not connect the words of Jesus: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you,” with the things He says at the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

    A lot of respected commentators (D.A. Carson, F.F. Bruce, Burton Coffman in my quick search, I’m sure many more as well) would agree with this.

    So your plea, “please do not ever [ever, ever, ever] use this text to prepare the minds of those in attendance for the Lord’s Supper,” seems extreme.

    • Ben March 18, 2014 at 12:54 PM #

      Thanks for adding balance, Luke! You’re right, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an either-or conclusion. Yet (and I believe D.A. Carson takes this position), if this refers at all to the Lord’s Supper, it is only a secondary reference at best. Recognized theologians who believe Jesus is primarily teaching about the Lord’s Supper are very much in the minority. While FF Bruce leaves the question of the Lord’s Supper open ended, he spends most of his time dealing with the essence of what Christ is actually trying to teach. Men like Homer Kent, Gary Burge, Andreas Kostenberger, and Guy N Woods all point out that the Lord’s Supper is certainly not Christ’s focus. It seems to me that one must do a little bit of dancing (not literally) to justify how Jesus is talking about the Lord’s Supper in this context.

  5. Kris Groda March 18, 2014 at 12:35 PM #

    What about a “ready recolection” for the speaker

    • Ben March 18, 2014 at 12:58 PM #

      In my mind, it seems slightly inconsistent for people to teach that the Holy Spirit only works through the Word, and then in the same sitting (or standing) to pray that God will give the speaker a “ready recollection” of the things he has prepared. Of course, you can introduce the issue of Providence, and then it just gets really complicated and makes me want to take a nap because it makes my brain hurt…

      • Tom Keener March 18, 2014 at 9:09 PM #

        Before I begin each sermon or class I ask God to help me speak accurately and effectively. I am not praying for anything miraculous in nature. To speak the word of God I must study it. At the same time I believe God is working in my life including when I preach and teach.

      • Robert March 20, 2014 at 7:50 AM #

        Thanks Ben
        What about this one? “This bread and fruit of the vine represents the body and blood of Jesus.” I have not found that phrase. Jesus said this is my body and my blood.

        • BH March 22, 2014 at 11:32 AM #

          I would be more interested with the original language to see if the Aramaic, Greek or Hebrew words indicated a literal or figurative meaning, thus ‘represents’…

  6. Scott Shifferd Jr. March 18, 2014 at 1:23 PM #

    I agree with Luke here.

    In John 3:5, Jesus was referring to baptism in His name before He instituted that baptism in His resurrection.

    Add to this another a closer look at John 6:51, and we see that Christ is referring to giving His life for the world. To this statement, the Jews asked how Jesus can give His flesh to eat. From this, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Jesus’ reference to drinking His blood has no other antecedent in the context here. In fact, it is in contradiction to the Law to eat blood.

    I urge you to reconsider. Even assuming that Jesus’ was not alluding to the Lord’s Supper like He did baptism, Jesus is at least referring to His death, His flesh, and His body given for the world. I am convinced that this reference to His death alone makes John 6:51-56 an appropriate passage to read in speaking of Christ’s sacrifice in proclaiming His death in the Lord’s Supper.

    I hope you will reconsider. Thank you for your good words. God bless your studies.

  7. preacheroftruth March 18, 2014 at 2:08 PM #

    Respectfully, I think the “small ‘c’ in church of Christ” comment falls into what Paul warned about in 1 Timothy 6:4 and gets into the realm of what Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for doing: straining at gnats. Here’s why.

    While I agree that we shouldn’t say something like, “I’m ‘Church of Christ.'” because it smacks of giving credence to denominationalism, at the same time let’s remember that we made the decision to use the term “church of Christ” at times and in certain ways as a title rather than as a description as it’s commonly used in the New Testament. There are implications to that which we might not have thought through, which has led to the current fad among many sound congregations of the Lord’s body to promote the “small ‘c'” notion.

    For example, a local congregation in a town called Corinth decides to use the title “Corinth Church of Christ” to describe themselves, as is commonly done by so many congregations in our brotherhood. They put it on their sign, on their letterhead, in the phone book, etc. Yet, I am not aware of the New Testament recording churches describing themselves exactly that way. Paul addressed “the church of God at Corinth” (1 Cor. 1:2), not “Corinth Church of God” in his letter to them. He was descriptive in how he addressed that church, not titular. He addressed the local congregation of God which happened to be in a particular town. What we tend to do is talk of local congregations in a titular sense rather than a descriptive sense as they did in the NT. (“There’s a singing over at the Corinth Church of Christ tonight! Next week the Greenville Church of Christ is having a gospel meeting!” etc.) There’s nothing wrong with doing that, let me be clear.

    However, if we’re going to talk of the local congregation in a titular sense at times, let’s be consistent…if for no other reason than the proper impression it makes to the lost whom we are trying to reach. Grammatically, it’s proper in our English language to capitalize most or all of the words in a title. In fact, NOT doing so will probably not make a very good first impression on the lost we as a church are trying to reach.

    Say I was not a member of the church of Christ and therefore not familiar with our correct desire to distinguish ourselves from the error of denominationalism. So I visit your congregation, pick up a bulletin, and see at the very top the title of the bulletin: “Welcome To The Lexington church of Christ!” instead of the more grammatically correct “Welcome To The Lexington Church Of Christ!” The following week, I receive a letter from the congregation thanking me for visiting and inviting me back and I see the title of the church in the letterhead look like this: “Lexington church of Christ” rather than the more grammatically correct “Lexington Church of Christ.” The first impression I’m going to get is a bad one, namely, that this church lacks professionalism and doesn’t know enough or care enough to proofread its publications. And you know what they say about first impressions…

    Just something to consider… :) Love your blog, by the way. Keep up the good work.
    Jon

    • Ben March 18, 2014 at 2:11 PM #

      I couldn’t agree with you any more, Jon! Great comment.

    • wd40nductape March 18, 2014 at 11:50 PM #

      There is moire to the big C – little c matter than some realize. There is a history about this.

      • Robert March 20, 2014 at 7:46 AM #

        Would you elaborate on the “c”?

  8. MikeKW March 18, 2014 at 3:43 PM #

    Helpful stuff, Ben. If memory serves, the second verse of “Jesus is Coming Soon” has been completely omitted from our song books here at KW. You might consider writing a future article on “How far can we go with poetic license in our songs?” Keep up the good work, brother!

  9. Judy March 18, 2014 at 3:49 PM #

    Ben,
    I loved your analysis in this post, and most all of them reflect my own pet peeves. One my husband feels compelled to correct people on is referring to “the broken body of Christ” during communion, when we all know he had no broken bones. I would love to make a copy of this and hand it out just to help make people aware, but, what if someone accuses me of straining at a gnat?! Keep up the good work! You and Hannah are great inspirations to us!

    • Ben March 18, 2014 at 5:26 PM #

      Thanks for the kind words. I would say it is a matter of judgment who you hand it to. With some weaker Christians, stressing these points may actually be considered straining at a gnat (and maybe it would be wise to talk about these matters with them at a later date). We are all on our own spiritual trajectories of growth.

      There is, however, a time to talk about these matters. Don’t let anyone bully you into believing otherwise. To those who take issue with these details (some issues in this article are bigger than others), ask, when can we talk about them? The guiding principle should be: how can we serve God even better? How can we give Him our best?

      Thanks again for your sweet words. They are not merited.

      -Ben

    • preacheroftruth March 18, 2014 at 7:39 PM #

      It is possible for a body to be broken without having any broken bones. Remember, Jesus himself described his crucified body as broken (1 Cor. 11:24, KJV).

      • wd40nductape March 20, 2014 at 2:27 AM #

        In the case of Jesus, the prophecy was made that not a bone of him would be broken. In Biblical terms that is the meaning (Ex 12:46; Nu 9:12; Ps 34:20; John 19:36). His sacrificial death followed the pattern of the sacrificial animals of the Old Testament in the Law. It does not refer to the breaking or piercing of His flesh with a scourge or a spear. Otherwise, the prophecy was not fulfilled. That reflects on the integrity of the Bible. The text cited (1 Cor. 11:24, KJV) is a mistake in the KJV. The word “broken” should not have been added to the text. The ASV is the correct rendering: “…he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me.”

      • DeaconKev April 10, 2014 at 12:13 AM #

        His flesh was broken. Could he have sustained broken bones when the nails were driven into His hands or feet?

  10. Peggy G. March 18, 2014 at 7:38 PM #

    Ben
    When we are getting ready to take the Lord’s supper and the person leading the prayer says forgive us of our many sins, I think the Lord’s supper should be about the Lord and not us.

    • wd40nductape March 20, 2014 at 2:17 AM #

      Actually, when Paul instructs us to examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:27-29), this implies that if we need to repent and ask forgiveness, we should do prior to observing the Lord’s Supper. This would be an appropriate time to ask for forgiveness. After all, the sacrifice of His body and blood was made for our forgiveness. I heard of a congregation once where they always would have the invitation song just prior to the Lord’s supper, and the statement was made (similar to the following): “If you have any sins, you need forgiveness, and you need it before observing the Lord’s Supper.”

  11. wd40nductape March 19, 2014 at 12:16 AM #

    Three matters involving prayer– 1) I have heard brethren pray, “”We pray for those for whom it is our duty to pray,” then go on to some other topic. If it is our duty to pray for certain ones,let us specify who they are. 2) I have heard a phrase in prayers, “Forgive us of our sins of omission and our sins of commission.” All sins fall into those two categories. I am not saying it is a sin to say that. But, one would not pray, “Forgive us of our sins of omission and leave out the sins of commission, or vice-versa. Why not keep a prayer simple, and simply ask, “forgive us of our sins”? That covers all sins without being wordy..3) Some say, “Forgive us of our unforgiven sins.” Those are the only sins God will forgive, for the other ones have already been forgiven. Simply say, “forgive us of our sins.” Again, we need to avoid wordiness and unnecessary phrases. I am sure that most who use these phrases mean no harm and have good intentions. But, sometimes, we just don’t think. We need to think and be original.

    Another matter: Recently, I was the guest speaker in a gospel meeting. A specific topic had been requested, and I prepared a lesson on that topic. When the local preacher introduced me, he said something like, “Let’s listen to what the Lord has led him say.”!! I did not have a “leading” in the way that many people think of it. I was assigned the topic, so I researched and studied it, prepared it, and preached it. The Lord does note “lead” in any subtle, mysterious way, which is how I took it. If it was a harmless comment, then maybe he should rethink that kind of phraseology. :-)

  12. wd40nductape March 19, 2014 at 12:23 AM #

    Sometimes, I have heard brethren give a social or political commentary in a prayer. We should avoid that. And, some song leaders spend a lot of time trying ti explain a sing, or why they picked it, or how “Aunt Sally” loved it. We just need to keep worship simple and Biblical without adding extraneous matters.

  13. Doug March 19, 2014 at 8:10 AM #

    Your article sadly reminds me of an event that occurred over 25 years ago. A new Christian who overcame his nervousness and led his first public prayer was immediately dressed down by another member for “not doing it right.” I don’t recall the infraction, I do remember my friend was devastated. We have much to learn about practicing grace.

    • Ben March 19, 2014 at 8:15 AM #

      What a terrible incident! Shame on anyone who would be so insensitive and unsympathetic to a new Christian simply trying to do his best! We could all enhance how we practice grace towards others (myself especially!).

    • BH March 22, 2014 at 11:39 AM #

      This would also apply for someone getting ‘dressed down’ for leading without wearing a coat and tie. Getting dressed up for ‘church’ was not a 1st century activity. Dressing up to go to church or anywhere else was to differentiate oneself from those of a poorer class and became popular many years later, and the scripture definitely speaks against that!

  14. Chris Kidwell March 19, 2014 at 8:12 AM #

    What about using the singular pronoun “I” when leading a public prayer? I might be nit-picking just a little bit here, but it seems to me that if I’m leading a public prayer, I’m vocalizing a prayer on behalf of all of the members congregation that are participating; using “I” there seems to be a bit too exclusive.

  15. christinamariesteiner March 19, 2014 at 9:12 AM #

    Ben –
    I was very curious to read this blog post, and was hoping that it would give some bright insights on encouraging our men to lead in public worship, which can be a very daunting thing for men of any age or spiritual maturity level.

    I look forward to hearing more on the issue in future blog posts, which could maybe focus more on encouraging Male Spiritual Leadership in positive and uplifting ways.

    Thanks always for your thoughts.

  16. bfuller123 March 19, 2014 at 11:51 AM #

    Good article, Ben. We do need to be more mindful in how we speak. Our speech can lead and mislead. Jesus said the things that come out of our mouth come from our hearts; what does it reveal about my heart when I pray the same prayer, word for word, each time I serve the Lord’s supper or lead the opening/closing prayer? Doesn’t that show something about how serious I am about my relationship to God and my Christian walk?

    Here’s one I would add: “Brother” (also “Sister”).
    It is constantly used as a title even though we are careful not to use other religious titles. Saying “my brother Ben” is not the same as saying “Brother Ben” (or as is often printed “brother Ben”) (Heb 13:23, I Cor 16:12, Acts 9:17, Acts 22:13).
    I realize it is used as a term of endearment among us, but it is often used only for preachers, elders, and deacons and in a way as to lift them above other common members. Maybe unintentionally, but the effect is the same.
    Mind you, I am not offended by those who call me “Brother Burt”, but I do think we are being very inconsistent by using this terminology. I once mentioned this point on a message board and got dressed down by a “Brother” for questioning such a thing. My repeated question to him was, “Where in the NT do we see a Christian using this phraseology to refer to another Christian?”
    If we are to “speak where the Bible speaks”, shouldn’t we also speak AS the Bible speaks?
    I personally do not use “brother” as in “brother Ben” to refer to my brothers in Christ, just as I do not use “brother” to refer to my fleshly brother as “brother Ed”. I refer to my spiritual siblings by their first names just as I do my physical siblings. That’s the NT example I see.

  17. Levi March 19, 2014 at 12:06 PM #

    Ben, Good post and there are some excellent comments on this! I do have a couple to include.
    1. When leading at the memorial feast: Do not ever use the word spilled (or spilt) to describe the shedding of the blood. This is because the word, in its primary definition is to accidentally cause to fall from a container. Jesus’ death was planned from the beginning thus it was no accident neither was it unintentional that He shed His blood.

    Yes I realize that in secondary definition it means to shed. However, most everyone that hears to word spilled (or any of its variants) immediately conjures up (either consciously or subconsciously) the image of someone spilling water out of a glass, etc.

    2. This one also has to do with prayer. Try to avoid using words such as witness or testify. While we can, through the Scriptures, see Christ and the events of the NT, have any of us really seen Christ in the flesh as the apostles did? What exactly are we testifying of (yes, this is probably gnat-picking)? The Bible simply calls what we do teaching and/or preaching (Acts 8:4) so lets do the same and not try to copy those teaching a false doctrine.

  18. C March 19, 2014 at 8:53 PM #

    If this post were directed at preachers/ministers (i.e. someone who most likely has a degree in Bible and should know better) it would be understandable to address these “mistakes.” However, I’m not sure it’s necessarily helpful to address these issues with everyday Christian men. Men who have a hard enough time getting up and doing things in church without having biblical experts picking them apart. I realize you don’t intend this to be a “picking them apart” article. I think it is possible to teach on these “mistakes” without doing it in this format. “This format” being one that could make a person who is already not a “get up in public” person even more afraid of being judged by people who might be more knowledgeable about these issues, such as yourself. I know men who flat out refuse to get up and participate in worship because of people making comments to them about these kinds of “mistakes.” If I attended a congregation full of people constantly pointing out those types of “mistakes” to my simple, Jesus-loving, almost-throws-up-because -he’s-so-nervous every time he leads a prayer, husband, I might be one of the “sick of the congregation” myself :) I’m all for growing and learning. Just not at the cost of making folks so afraid of making a mistake, they distance themselves from participating in worship, which could (and often does) lead them to distancing themselves from the Church in general.

    • Ben March 19, 2014 at 9:12 PM #

      Thanks Candice for the balanced comment! I agree with your sentiments!

      • C March 19, 2014 at 10:40 PM #

        I hope I didn’t come across as harsh. I just noticed the cowardly lion pic and that made me wonder if it might be hard for you to put yourself out there in a blog post like this. I’m sure it is. So yeah, I just want to add that I know it can’t be easy doing that. Kudos for the courage to write, even though you know that a lot of people might not agree with everything you write.

  19. Hiram kemp March 19, 2014 at 10:03 PM #

    Great post and while it attacks some specifics I believe the post in general is geared toward pushing Christians away from rehearsed theology(Joel 2:13),new converts should have time to grow without being burdened with nitpicking and fault finding but I believe the time comes when we must teach them the right things the bible way however insignificant it may seem to us or there will be many among us (and there are) who will speak the denominational language of Asdod(Nehemiah 13)..Let’s be understanding but let’s not be lazy and let’s give God the same attention we give in sports terminology,song lyrics,etc,,

  20. wd40nductape March 20, 2014 at 10:52 PM #

    This is why we very much need training classes for men and boys in the church. This way they can be trained so say and do what is correct, and save embarrassment or misleading others in public. If we remain silent for fear of making someone uncomfortable, brethren will never improve, and will continue to repeat the same mistakes.

    • Micah April 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM #

      I agree and disagree, but I don’t think I directly disagree. In other words, I expect you to agree with my general point as it doesn’t go directly against what you are saying, just adds to it.

      I think training should take place for young people in the Church. However, that training needs to start with teaching them Jesus; who Jesus is and what God has done for each of them through Jesus. There needs to be a better understanding of God’s love and grace and his desire for us to have a real relationship with Him. I think that would cut down on some of the rehearsed prayers, singing, and worship, along with rehearsed “going to church” instead of being the Church. It would also cut down on some of our (including myself here) cringing when people make genuine, but in the grand scheme of things, unimportant mistakes such as adding an “s” to a book or a psalm. On the other hand, it would make people more receptive to a loving, just pointing it out, correction of such simple mistakes as adding an “s” to a book.

      My point is, sure, let’s teach them to follow doctrine, but let’s start by teaching them that the doctrine is an ends to a means (loving a God who first loved us), not an end unto itself. Sometimes the nit-picking leads to a problem that Jesus actively fought against, which is worshiping the law rather than the law-giver.

      This is nothing against your post, Ben, or your comment duct tape guy, just wanted to add it in (several weeks later apparently) as I think it is relevant.

      • Ben April 9, 2014 at 3:38 PM #

        Thanks for the great comment Micah. I was actually writing this post coming from the very assumption that we are primarily teaching people to fall in love with Jesus first. When people love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength, it is amazing how they blossom and are eager to serve Him as effectively as possible. None of the items in this post are an end of themselves. But taking them to heart is a good way to express our love to God.

        Some of the items listed are funny. The first two, for example. And #9 especially. Some items deserve to be in a different category, because they are more serious. For example, #6 and #7 are not necessary wrong in and of themselves, but they can demonstrate a dangerous misunderstanding of the nature of the One Church that our Lord paid for with His blood.

        Again, I really appreciate your comment. I think you’re right. And while they make for a nice and tidy blog post, it takes wisdom to know when to lovingly teach the principles behind them to people depending upon their own spiritual maturity level.

        -Ben

  21. Tim April 8, 2014 at 12:41 PM #

    This post reeks with legalism!

    • Ben April 8, 2014 at 12:48 PM #

      Please define “legalism.” If you are accusing me of talking about ways we can better serve our gracious God, you would be absolutely correct. True believers want to serve and love Him as best they can.

  22. Randy May 15, 2014 at 1:00 PM #

    I would suggest that the entire song “Jesus is Coming Soon” is unscriptural. The first line of the first verse says “Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear, freedom we all hold dear now is at stake.” What does that mean? According to the song, it means that Jesus is coming soon.

    Even simply the phrase “Jesus is coming soon” cannot be stated without qualifying it (which you did). But the song itself offers no such qualification.

    And, as you stated, the author was openly premillinial, so there’s little doubt his intended meaning.

    It is a beautiful tune, but would require a massive overhaul of the lyrics of the entire song to be scriptural.

    Other than that this point doesn’t go quite far enough, the article is excellent, offering some “finer points” of instruction in a very mild and non-threatening way.

  23. Brenda Johnson August 5, 2014 at 10:09 PM #

    Ben, great article! I respectfully disagree on the little c.

    My take on this is that the “Church” was important enough for our God to send His Son to die for. It means a great deal to Them. We should have enough respect to honor that with a capital letter. I know the reasoning behind the latest popularity of the little c but it smacks of disrespect and could make the outside world think we don’t love the Church at worst or at best just have no grammatical education.

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