When Worship Evangelism Doesn’t Worship- Or Evangelise

I came across a link to an article written by Sally Morganthaler on Justin Taylor’s Between Two World’s blog. It is I think a must read for every Evangelical. Morganthaler wrote a book in the 90’s called ‘Worship Evangelism’. The title is self-explanatory and in the article Morganthaler accepts that her book helped to create ‘a worship driven sub-culture.’ The worship driven church she now freely admits was not, as she had hoped, a means to reach the unchurched but ‘unabashed self-absorption, a worship culture that screamed, “It’s all about us” so loudly that I wondered how any visitor could stand to endure the rest of the hour.’ As this church culture flourished so the unchurched stayed away. Yes, mega churches grew, they almost doubled their numbers in a decade. At the same time the numbers of those staying away from church doubled as well. Mega churches were growing as a result it seems not of evangelism but ecclesiastical musical chairs. Morgenthaler’s article is a painful one both for her and any concerned Evangelical reader.

A number of observations-

  • Morgenthaler’s article raises key questions for the mega church movement and the emergent church movement. It demonstrates to us the problems that are created whenever the church is driven by the surrounding culture. The observation of the Bishop who observed that whoever is wedded to the spirit of the age will become a widow in the next.
  • It also raises issues about the understanding of worship in contemporary evangelicalism. It has seemed to me for some time we are being driven by an understanding of worship that equates with praise. The idea that worship is a matter in which we engage in with our whole self as we give ourselves to God as living sacrifices and where the pinnacle of that obedience is our submission to His word has largely been lost. It is sad that in Morgenthaler’s article she is only now acknowledging worship as defined by Paul in Romans 12:2.
  • I also hope that Morgenthaler’s reflections are heard on this side of the pond where churches are in such a rush to ape mega churches believing that they have the golden key. We too run the risk of being obsessed by numbers. We used to be driven by a concern for the lost. Now it seems we are driven too often simply by a desire to be big.
  • The issue of the unchurched is one of concern. It has concerned me for some time the disconnection that there is between the church- which seems increasingly middle class and at ease with itself- and the unchurched, who are often very ordinary people who are increasingly disconnected from the church. I grew up in a very ordinary home where money was often tight and it grieves me that the church has lost its connection with such ordinary people. The self-absorbed church will never impact the lost world.

Morgenthaler’s article ends on a sad personal note. She writes,I am taking time for the preacher to heal herself. As I exit the world of corporate worship.’ It is a comment which reflects the very narcissism that Morgenthaler claims is afflicting the contemporary church.


One Response to “When Worship Evangelism Doesn’t Worship- Or Evangelise”

  1. JAMES SASSE Says:


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