One of the greatest tactics that the enemy has against the church is something that most churches never think about or even consider. Yes, the enemy does tempt people in the church to sin and fall away from the faith, and he is out to destroy the men and women of God leading the church. We have seen this play out over and over in the church in recent months and years. But those are the results of individuals. One of the greatest attacks comes when the enemy puts things in the path of the church to make the church ineffective in its work for the kingdom of God. Over the centuries, we have seen things rise within the church that causes divisions. Now I am not talking about a doctrinal division, which we should fight for, but things that have no bearing on the gospels going out into the world.
In Acts, the people were divided over circumcision for the new Gentile converts. The issue becomes a point of argument that had to be addressed at the first General Church Council meeting (Acts 15). The issue was such a point of contention that it pitted some of the biggest names in the early church against each other and finally came to a head when Paul confronted the leader of the Church, Peter, and reminded him that he was the first to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul reminded Peter of the revelation that God gave him about the Gentile church and what God wanted to do with them. Now my point is that even in the early years, the enemy was trying to get the church off track. He did it then as he does it today, with senseless arguments that took away from the true purpose of the church, and that is winning people to Jesus.
Today we see the enemy uses those same tactics with us. We see debate within the church over things like the method of worship style. Should the church have bright lights on the stage? Should the church sing hymnals or new-style music? Should the church have pews or chairs? Should the pastor wear jeans, or should he be in a three pieces suit? How much technology is too much, or is there such thing as too much? All of these are debates that I have heard occur within the church, and I must ask, who cares? I mean, really, does it matter if we have lights on the stage or not when it comes to winning people to Jesus? I mean, does it matter if you sing out of a hymnal or off the screen or if you sing new worship songs compare to old hymnal songs? I mean, as long as the songs you sing are theologically correct. I love old hymnals, and I grew up on them, but not all of them are theologically sound. My point is, how is any of that moving forward the purpose of the church. If you can reach people more traditionally, then do that, but remember that your traditional way was considered new and dangerous to the old church. I mean, it is hard to say that technology should not be in the church, and lights should not be in the church, and LED screen should not be in the church when you are screaming it from a microphone backed by a 1000-watt amp and a digital mixing board.
My point is there is more than one method to reach people. Paul did not use the same methods in Ephesus that he would have used in Jerusalem. I mean, for the first time, Paul used a building that was not the synagogue to preach. The method was different, but the results were the same. People were saved. If your community can be reached by traditional church style, then I say by all means do a very traditional church style service but know there are people in your community who may not come to that. If lights on the stage can bring them into the church, then use that. But at the end of the day, what matters most is the Holy Ghost operating in the church? Can people feel the presence of the Lord in the service? Do they have an opportunity to come and to know Jesus? Variety in worship style is not wrong, and it is something that can reach more people, and we should celebrate it, not argue over it. The church I pastor operates in the way that I feel the Holy Ghost is leading, but I have no problem with another church doing it another way, as long as the Holy Ghost is leading. Because they may have a chance to win people that I will never reach, and I can win people they can never reach. So, here are some things that I think every church should agree on.
1. Worshiping God alone is our focus, and winning souls is our purpose.
No matter how we worship, God must always be the focus of our worship. God and God alone is the one that we worship, and everything that we do in our life should bring honor to Him. No matter the style of our praise, it should never focus on even the people in the congregation or us, but it should focus on Jesus. I tell my congregation that the people on the stage are not the worshipers, but every saint of God is a worshipper. In the Pentecostal church, we believe in the whole person worship experience. That a person should worship God in body, Soul, and Spirit, worship should be physical, and you should sing, clap, dance, and shout. Worship should be emotional, and yes, worship should make you think and touch you on an intellectual level as well. But in all of worship, Jesus should always be the focus.
The purpose of the church is to win people to Jesus. We are called to make disciples, and we cannot make disciples if first, we do not lead them to Jesus. We are not called to teach people to argue for their positions, but rather we are to disciple them to be like Jesus and to go out and disciple others. The word disciple did not originate in the Bible but actually was a Plutonian idea that was set for by Aristotle. Aristotle was a student of Plato, and this teacher so took him that he began to build academies all over the empire and teach Plutonian philosophy. His student was called disciples, and the task was to take what they had learned and spread it throughout the empire. So, even though the Greek empire felt, Greek philosophy lived on. The purpose of the church is to win people and then send those people out into the world as disciples of Christ to spread the good news, not to argue over the style of worship and any other pointless argument.
2. The church should be more focused on the leading of the Spirit.
Church style has changed over the centuries, and there is no perfect style because the one performing it is not perfect. No matter what your style of worship, just know that it is just one in a thousand that has come along through the centuries of the church. I mean, the early church did not have church buildings but rather met house to house. Today, many around the world worship in totally different ways and styles, but what is important is that we are all led by the same Holy Spirit. You see, the true measure of a church comes when the Holy Spirit is leading the church. Is He in control? No matter how you do, does the Holy Spirit feel welcome in the church you serve in? I heard a preacher a couple of weeks ago make the statement, “I want our church to be one of God’s favorite places to be during worship.” I thought to myself, what a powerful thought I am worshipping is a place where God takes delight in being present. I have seen the Holy Spirit move while singing old hymns, and I have seen God move singing Bethel worship songs. I have felt the Holy Spirit move while wearing a three-piece suit, and I have felt the Holy Spirit move while wearing blue jeans. I have heard the Holy Spirit speak when the lights were dimmed, and I have heard the Holy Spirit speak when the lights were bright. I have had a Holy Ghost throw down with all the instruments playing on the stage, and I have had the same with hardly any. Let me give you an example. One of the most powerful worship moments that I have experienced happen in a small village on the Cruta River in Honduras. They were singing in a language that I did not understand, and the two musical instruments they had were a five-gallon bucket with a string and a stick for the bass and a jawbone of some animal, I did not ask, with a stick for the drums. Most people were barefoot but knew how to worship, and the Holy Ghost moved in that little wood-frame building. The style was nothing like anything I had ever seen, but God did not care. All He cared about was there were people with a heart of worship that had come to focus their love on Him. That is all God needs to move in the midst of his people, and when He does, people will be drawn to Him.
So let’s forget about the pity things that divide us, and let’s put out focus on His purpose.