Category Archives: Worship

The Church Consumer

I recently had a spat with my pharmacy. When they could not fill my prescription, I went somewhere else. When I upgrade my cell phone, I go to the store dressed for battle. I want to come away with the best possible deal. The church consumer is also looking for a deal. He needs to make sure he’s looking for the right thing.

The church consumer will, likewise, shop for what they perceive to be the best possible deal in churches. They may look for entertainment, friendship, or self-validation. People don’t want to change. They reject repentance. They are not looking for sanctification. Their desire for holiness is missing. Such shallow church consumerism is a colossal waste of time.

The church consumer should immediately jettison his foolish ideas about shopping for a church as he might shop for a new car. There is only one quality that a person should look for in a church. Seek and search for a church committed to the absolute truth of God’s word.

The Truth

Solomon said, “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding” (Proverbs 22:23). In Matthew 13, Jesus spoke two brief parables about the value of finding the most important things. He told of a man who came across treasure and immediately went and bought the field. A second man found a pearl of exquisite beauty and great price. He sold everything he had to buy it (Matthew 13:44, 45).

The only things a church consumer should look for are the things that last an eternity. Entertainment brings joy for a few minutes. Self-validation brings about no change in the life of a sinner. These pursuits are not worthy of your time. Search for that which has true value.

Church leaders and preachers are responsible for doing their best to communicate God’s word to the listeners. The preacher should sharpen his skills of delivery and interpretation to deliver the pure truth in a way that his hearers can understand. Remember, the sermon is not a TED talk or standup comedy. The preacher does not take the stage to entertain but to encourage, evangelize, and inform.

Come for Worship, Not for Entertainment

The last time I attended a musical performance, the people on the stage did not invite me to sing with them. I am the object of the choreography and singing. I am entertained. Not so in the worship of the church. We do not come to worship for entertainment. We come to praise the God of creation and express our thanksgiving to him for all his blessings.

Let our worship be God-focused, not the other way around.

Let’s purge the idea of being a church consumer from our minds. Seek truth.

Upside Down Christianity

upside down christianityChristianity is struggling because we have turned our understanding of God upside down. God no longer reigns but is relegated to a genie in a bottle that we call on when we are in trouble. Today, God serves Christians instead of the other way around. Deep divisions exist within Christianity. Worship is performance directed at the pews instead of heaven. God should appreciate our worship, no matter how we give it to him!

Israel had a similar problem and was rebuked by Isaiah:

You turn things upside down!

shall the potter be regarded as the clay, 

that the thing made should say of its


“He did not make me”;

or the thing formed say of him who formed it,

“He has no understanding?” (Isaiah 29:16)

The modern brand of Christianity will never be approved by God as long as it targets men and not the Divine.

Until we set things aright with God, Christianity will continue to decline. There will be fewer adherents exerting less and less influence in a devilish world. We are the servants of the Most High. Not the other way around.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.

Respecting the Assembly

(Authors note: I am not opposed to using a digital Bible. Use whatever works for you. But the temptations to cease worshiping and browse social media is real. If you cannot avoid FB for a few minutes then leave the phone in the car. Your time with your Lord and your brethren is too precious! – jbe)

God’s people have been gathering together since Sinai. During the period of the Levitical priesthood, the people would assemble at the Tabernacle and later at the Temple to offer sacrifices and to celebrate holy days. After Judaism ended and Jesus established his church, people continued to come together to worship. Acts 2:46 tells us they were together day by day fellowshipping and engaging in various aspects of worship.

The practice of the earliest Christians, acting under apostolic approval, was to come together on Sunday to break bread (Communion), receive teaching. and to contribute to the works of the church (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). The assembly was important. There were no “Lone Ranger” Christians apart from those who assembled. Brethren worshiped God together and encouraged one another through their fellowship and singing, something that cannot be done if you are not part of the assembly. Coming together like this implies respect for both God, as the object of worship, and the brethren, as co-worshippers of the Lord.

A worshipper would never consider doing anything that would distract from his own devotion to God through worship, nor would he distract others from their worshipping.

I fear we have forgotten that simple lesson.

  • From his perch behind the pulpit, the preacher sees a lot. When he preaches from the floor he often can see the screens of smartphones and immediately knows that some are not paying attention to a word he says.
  • From where he stands he can see the adults making goo-goo eyes at babies, playing with non-infant children and actually laughing at one another.
  • From his perspective, he can see into the darkened training rooms where people of all ages sit to chit chat during worship.
  • From his point of view, he sees the people who leave early even though worship is not completed.

The speaker further knows that it is not about him; he takes no personal offense at such antics but is saddened by those who think little of worship. There is always a better speaker somewhere else. Sadly, the same things occur in his audience too.

Let me suggest the following to help you worship better and to eliminate the distractions to others.

  1. Leave the phone in the car. – I love technology but the distractions of a phone that can access Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, email, and texting is just too much for me to handle. Use a paper Bible as it is easier to take notes and underline.

  2. Sit closer to the front. This puts many of the distractions behind you and allows you to focus on worship.

  3. Teach children; do not play with children in worship.

  4. Go to the bathroom before Wait until the end to go again if possible.

  5. Do not leave early. Make a statement to the people you are meeting that worship is more important to you than they are!

It boils down to one question: Is there anything more important that worship? I didn’t think so.


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.


What Are You Singing?

Sixteenth_note_runThere is nothing sweeter than the pure sounds of Christian voices blending together in worship. God’s wisdom is seen in the inclusion of singing in worship. God created the physics behind sound waves and the lovely harmonies they produce. He created the human ear and its intricacies that absorb those sound waves and transmit them to the brain where they are decoded into the joyous sounds we enjoy.  The lyrics of the song convey meaning while the harmonies touch the heart.

We are blessed by generations of composers and lyricists who have produced marvelous tunes to enable and enhance our worship. Today, a new generation of musicians are producing the songs that will become standards for worship in the future.

Why Do We Sing?

We sing in Christian worship because God has so authorized it. He desires the fruit of lips in our worship before him (Hebrews 13:15). While the Law of Moses authorized mechanical instruments in the Temple worship (never in the Synagogue), it is never mentioned in the worship of Christ’s church today. Thus, Christians desiring to give God only what he wants and authorizes do not presume to include lifeless instruments. The voice alone is the one living instrument we know that he desires. [bctt tweet=”The voice alone is the one living instrument we know that he desires.”]

God is praised through our singing but there is also a human benefit.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart… (Ephesians 5:19)

Notice that we are to teach, admonish and address one another through our singing. At the same time we show our thankfulness to God. It is impossible to teach and admonish, and put differently, to be taught and be admonished, without a knowledge, understanding and contemplation of the words of the songs we sing. Mindless singing is not worship just as mindless repetition is prayer is vain (Matthew 6:7).

Engaging with Song

Is it possible that we are so accustomed to the worship songs that we sing them without considering the words? Perhaps we become so focused on the notes in the book or on the screen that we no longer give thought to the teaching and admonishment that comes through singing. Have you become so focused on getting your part right that you miss the words?

Some of our worship songs are so complex that we miss the meaning while aiming for the right pitch and right melody.

That’s concerning.

Perhaps we would all be better served to listen carefully the words we singing. Let our hearts reach for heaven as our mind engages along with our spirits to commune with one another and with God. Know and understand every word you sing. Some of the older songs use language and words that are unfamiliar. Stop and learn what an “ebon pinion” is or figure out what to do with an ebenezer. You worship will be more meaningful to you and you will be lifted up in a way you never thought possible.

Beautiful harmonies are important, but the words as much or more so. [bctt tweet=”Beautiful harmonies are important, but the words as much or more so.”]


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

Women Turned Away from Church Because of Immodest Dress

A church in Kenya is asking some worshipers to dress more modestly. A woman was asked to go home and change because of her clothing. The reported comments suggest the issue of immodest dress is common in that particular church. The woman at the focus of the uproar is identified only as “Julia” and lives in Nairobi.

“Julia, who wrote on her Facebook page, expressed displeasure at the manner in which she was turned away. She claimed some other ladies wear mini skirts and spaghetti tops in big churches in the city.”

How to dress in worship is always an issue. But normally the question I hear is more about whether we should require a man to wear a coat and tie if he is leading in the public worship. Scantily clad women in worship have not yet made it onto the local radar screen. But until they do here are a few thoughts. There could be more but these come to mind this morning.

  1. Modesty is more than necklines and hemlines. Immodest attire is that which draws attention to the person. A man wearing a tuxedo to worship would surely be immodest as would a young man wearing a Budweiser T-shirt on the Lord’s table or a woman with a plunging neckline.
  2. Modesty is a judgment issue. The Bible does warn against immodesty (1 Timothy 2:9) but really gives no particular rules. Thus, culture will sometimes define modesty. If I wore a Sunday suit, complete with dress shirt, coat, pants, tie and shiny shoes to worship in Lethem I would draw attention to myself. Sometimes where we are may define modesty. Common Sunday best for women would be horrendously immodest in some locales.
  3. The outside may not define the inside. While our clothing may flow from our inner values it is also possible that it does not. Matthew 7:15 is clear that what we see on the outside may not define the inside (Mark 12:38-40). God views the inner man and so should we (1 Samuel 16:7).
  4. It does matter what you wear. Plunging, cleavage bearing necklines, short, thigh and  hip revealing hemlines and tight, buttocks accentuating sizes do incite lust. Let’s not play a game here. You know it. Should a true Christian be willing to alter their clothing standards if it helps someone else to avoid lust. Lust is bad (Matthew 5:28) but lust that actually distracts from worship must be even worse.
  5. Worship is not your mother’s funeral. A good brother once suggested that worship attire should be defined by what we would wear to our mother’s funeral. That sounded nice and was an easy line to blurt out in a discussion but it was also devoid of reason. First, contrary to some congregations, worship is not a funeral. It’s a joyous time when we come before the throne of Jehovah with praise and thanksgiving. We celebrate the victory in Christ and the resulting freedom from condemnation (Romans 8:1). Any sadness is taken away by the blessings in Christ. If a man chooses to leave is tie at home then who cares?

If we will think of others as we dress, modesty in worship will not be an issue. I promise, I will not make fun of your mid-belly tie if you won’t complain that I didn’t wear a tie at all.

When souls are dying lost, shall we really be concerned about such things as what a man wears at the Lord’s table?

Before you start the mailing campaign, I know that some dress is so egregious that it cannot be allowed in worship. My point here is to remind us to use better judgement and think righteously before making issue bigger than it should be.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

Words and Music

450px-Le_duoI love music. I especially love the music of the church, those voices blending in harmony bring me to ecstasy. But it’s the words of the songs that are so important. Singing in worship is not an accidentally thought inserted by men. It is appointed by God and has a divine purpose.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.“ (Ephesians 5:19).

Notice the two-fold purpose of singing. One, we sing to God to praise and worship him. Second, we speak or address one another in order to teach and encourage. Singing reaches the heart of man in a way different from any other means of communication. Since we are communicating with one another and with God, the words of the songs become so important.

Through the centuries music in general, and singing specifically, have become more and more complex. Multi-part harmonies are the rule now in almost every church. Melodies, counter melodies, middle voices, etc. are critical to the beautiful end product we hear and enjoy.

But let us be cautious that the words of praise are not lost in the mechanics of music. To miss the words is to miss the purpose of speaking to one another and encouraging one another. Have you ever gotten to the end of song and realized you don’t recall the words just sung? I have. I think that’s a mistake. We mustn’t emphasize one part of singing over another. Balance is crucial.

The musical mechanics are important because they allow us all to speak at the same time without chaos. The mechanics organize us into a coherent body of believers all speaking together.

Let us never be so enthralled with the harmonies that we miss the message. We can do both!


The “Attractional” Church

Churches are searching for young adults. Survey’s have repeatedly shown that people in their 20’s are abandoning churches in growing numbers. Some return when they marry, have children and begin to look for additional stability but some never come back.

To plug the slow drain some churches have turned to big bands and big social programs but that hasn’t worked well and certainly has not solved the problem.

But the wow factor—expensive bands, charismatic preachers, elaborate social events—doesn’t come cheap. What’s more, many religious leaders worry that offering that kind of experience only encourages young people to think about “the attractional church,” the kind of place you go for entertainment but not for any long-term commitment.

So writes Naomi Schaefer Riley at the Wall Street Journal. Riley is examining  a new para-church movement which seeks to draw the young adults into services which promote a sense of unity among believers in Christ. One survey has 98% of respondents saying the CityOne movement  has brought them closer to a personal relationship with Christ. 42% say they have been helped to connect with local churches.

We want people to be attracted to Jesus. We want people to be drawn to the salvation that is in Christ alone (John 14:6). But it is essential that people be drawn to the true Christ which includes what he paid for with his blood, his church, and the entirety of his teaching (Acts 20:27-28). It is good to see people thinking more about Jesus. It is good to see people giving serious thought to their souls and their eternal home. The church must supply them properly with truth.

What is disappointing, however,  is that it takes a non church to do the work that should belong to the church itself.

Religious leaders ought be asking some very basic questions about our own decline. At the heart is a question about the heart. What do we believe and what do we teach? When any church moves away from the Bible as its single source of doctrine it always fails. When a church changes Biblical teaching in order to attract those outside, it fails. Evangelism is critical. Outreach is vital. Jesus said to go teach and baptize (Matthew 28:18-20). We teach and baptize while God adds them to the church (Acts 2:41, 47).

The church must be pure yet it seems the religious community has morphed into something that doesn’t look too  much like the original Christians. We have gone from worship services, a God centered service, to worship experiences which put the person at the center. We come to get something out of worship instead of putting something into worship.

It might be a good idea to examine what we are doing when the church assembles. There is only good in standing on the words of the Lord. Let us come back to the Bible alone as the source of our teaching. Let us refocus our worship toward God and not the creature (Romans 1:25).

Worship: Spectator or Participant?

Should our presence in worship be that of a spectator or a participant? It’s a good question and one that is discussed at the Sharefaith blog. I am uncertain as to the religious background of the author but he makes some fine points. He is right on target in suggesting problems with worship in both the liberal and the more conservative faiths.

I commend this article for your consideration and prayerful meditation.

Church of Christ Music: What’s the Big Deal About a Piano Anyway?

(This article is available for download in pdf format. Please click here for Church of Christ Music.)

“Why don’t the churches of Christ use musical instruments?”

“The Church of Christ doesn’t have music. Why not?”

These are excellent and fair questions which deserve an answer. One of the things many people know about the churches of Christ is our insistence on Acapella music, that is, simple vocal music without a mechanical instrument. ((I am being very broad in describing what the churches of Christ do. I am well aware that some do in fact use the instrument. I disagree with them but am nonetheless aware of their thinking. While the churches of Christ do not have any earthly headquarters and there is no official book of doctrine other than the Bible, I do think I am making case that those within the “mainline” churches of Christ would agree.))

Now I know that some of you reading this will be surprised to learn that there is a church which does not use instruments in worship. You may be tempted to roll your eyes and think “that’s crazy.” Can I just ask for your open minded reading for a few minutes?

Continue reading Church of Christ Music: What’s the Big Deal About a Piano Anyway?

John 4:24 – “in spirit and in truth”

A recent comment made here asked some important questions about worship. He mentioned John 4:24 and Jesus’ comment that true worshipers must worship God “in spirit and in truth.” I think it would be helpful for us to spend some time thinking about what it means to worship in spirit and to worship in truth. Let’s set the passage before us first:

The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Jesus is the source for Christian Worship

The unnamed woman in John 4 asks a worship question of Jesus. Although she might not have fully understood who Jesus was she did call him a prophet. The woman was wise in seeking the answer to a worship question by turning to the proper source of worship information. She noted that people were divided on the proper place for worship. Her people, the Samaritans, believed one thing while their Jewish cousins taught something else. For the actual answer she turned to Jesus.

Like this ancient woman, it is vitally important that we seek our answers from the correct source.The correct source – indeed the only source available today – is the Bible. It is the Bible that offers a single foundation upon which all can stand. It is the one place where God-believing, Christ-honoring men and women can find common ground. While the Bible did not exist as it does today,  the words from Jesus were truth for Jesus spoke of God (John 7:17; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10) and God’s words are truth (John 17:17).

Truth has been delivered “once for all” (Jude 3) and is available to all men. Let us always turn to God for truth and reject every form of doctrine not found in Scripture.

The Issue of Christian Worship

Having come to the proper source for truth, the woman now proceeds to discuss one of the many divisions between the Jews and the Samaritans. Her question is in the form of a statement to which she hopes Jesus will reply. The issue centered upon the proper place for worship. Now we could just as easily ask a question about the worship itself or what we do in that worship.

Is there a standard for worship. Does anything go? Are our motives all that matter?

There is a standard. Reaching back to Judaism we find that God always expected certain things of those who worship him. Cain’s offering to God was rejected while his brother’s was accepted (Genesis 4:1-16). Nadab and Abihu, brothers and sons of the High Priest Aaron, worshiped wrongly by offering strange fire at the Tabernacle (Leviticus 10:1-2). In the New Testament Paul rebukes the Christians in Corinth for many things including their chaotic self-centered worship (1 Corinthians 14:26-35). I think we all agree that God desires worship which is true to his teachings.

Let’s take a moment and examine our worship practices. What actually happens in the worship service? Can we offer some authority for them or are we left with personal, emotional answers? While something in a worship service may make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, does it appeal to God? Is it what God wants or what I want?

God is the both the purpose of our worship and author of it. Let us please him and as servants, we will also be pleased.