Peter Kyhn is responsible for the worship and music ministry as well as overseeing small groups and attending to general pastoral duties. I am having the time of my life!
I have given a good deal of thought and study to the subject and theology of worship. The brief article below gives a summary of my understanding. For this and other articles about worship and spiritual development, click the link to go to my blog site Searching for Sanctuary.
Worship Is the Purpose of the Church.
In established congregations, most of the struggles about worship revolve around musical style, use of technology in the sanctuary, and how the singers and preacher dress on Sunday: superficial, skin-deep issues. Few churches wrangle over meatier matters like the divine/human nature of Christ, the supremacy of God, the social impact of the gospel on American culture or the sacredness of Communion and Baptism. Too much of the banter revolves around cherished traditions and personal preferences – surface stuff. What escapes so many is that our corporate gathering for worship is the true purpose of the Church.
Consider this: the purpose of the Church is worship, everything else that the Church does are the tasks that result from her worship.
The idea for this article is based on the fantastic paper authored by Dr. Chris Alford, pastor of Epiclesis – An Ancient Future Faith Community, in Sacramento, California. You can access a free pdf copy by clicking here.
Let’s consider the significant difference between the meaning of the word purpose and the word task. In my thinking, purpose has to do with the reason for existence. It’s a big picture, primary importance word. It answers the “why” of “Why does the Church exist?” God created all of creation to worship Him – that is to bow before Him in utter and complete submission to find their greatest delight in Him and Him alone. Chris Alford: “Worship is our created purpose, it is our present vocation, and it will continue for all time.” [p.3]
A task is an important but less big word. It answers the “what” of “What is the Church supposed to be doing?” The Church has been given many tasks to accomplish: make disciples…baptize… love one another. But tasks follow purpose. “The idea of the church having less to do with purpose and more to do with tasks is akin to a bride ignoring her groom because she is too focused upon writing wedding invitations….”[Chris Alford, p.4]
We gravitate toward tasks because they are identifiable and tangible.
Here’s Chris again, “The tendency to focus on task apart from purpose is understandable and natural. Our task is a challenge, but it may also strike us as manageable: With even a little vision we can see the patch of ground before us and pull up our sleeves and get to work. This is an enterprise we can understand, a project we can accomplish. We will clear the ground, tear out the brambles, remove the rocks, and till the soil. We will sow seeds and cultivate the growing plants and pray for a great harvest. We will sing about our work while we are working and we will work knowing that God is indeed pleased with this kind of work.” [p. 18]
But, the task is not the purpose. From Genesis to Revelation, God has called out a people to serve as witnesses to God’s magnificence, power, holiness, mercy and grace. Worship is the reason for the Church’s existence. Evangelism and discipleship flow from the encounter with the God of our salvation.
I believe from the bottom of my heart that when congregations focus on their God-given purpose, which is worship – and worship understood as face-down surrender before the God of the Bible – the controversies over non-issues will cease to be controversies.
Here at Palm West Community Church, we pursue the glory of God through Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, Bible-based preaching, teaching, prayer, and music. We are vibrant in our adoration and praise, our lament, and our supplication and thanksgiving. We seek to build up each Christ-follower in their faith and daily walk with Him.
Outside Interests: Writing, reading, graphic design, gardening, and playing trombone with Bones Southwest and singing with community choral groups.