by David Lemmons
DRL Note: This article was written a while back, but on a Saturday night, it might help us prepare for worship tomorrow. I also recommend going to THE LIGHT NETWORK to listen to or view the program READY TO WORSHIP.
My Source: North Marshall Messenger, Volume 4, #42, August 15, 1999
Author: David Lemmons
File Under: Worship; Drama Groups
The Wonder REMAINS
by David Lemmons
In a book entitled, In Search of Wonder, A Call to Worship Renewal, edited by Lynn Anderson and published by Howard Publishing Company in 1995, there is a chapter written by Rubel Shelly. Brother Shelly’s chapter has a long and very revealing title, “Where Has All the Wonder Gone? A Responsible Challenge To Our Traditions.” According to Ron Harper, who reviewed the book in the 1997 Freed-Hardeman Lectures, the major concern of this chapter is contemporary worship.
Of course the title under which brother Shelly writes speaks volumes about his own idea and evaluation of worship in churches of Christ. He is convinced, and is desperately waging war against the Lord’s church to try to convince as many others as he can, that our worship is LACKING. I would like to express an opposing view under the heading, “The Wonder REMAINS.”
As he calls for contemporary worship, Shelly is in favor of the use of drama. As an example of it consider the account of a communion service at Woodmont Hills. Worshippers closed their eyes as twenty people acted out the sounds of the crucifixion. Sounds heard at Woodmont Hills’ communion service included: people screaming out CRUCIFY HIM; the sounds of the lash on His back; nails being driven through His flesh.
I have always preached about the beauty and simplicity of the memorial which Jesus left for us to observe each Lord’s day. Have we some defect of mind in the 20th century that we must have dramatic assistance to accomplish that for which Jesus gave us a reminder? Does anyone doubt that drama existed and was important in the culture of the first century? Why do we not read of any such communion service as was held at Woodmont Hills in the New Testament?
Of course, the implication that is inescapable for those who participate in a service similar to that at Woodmont Hills, is that the pattern given in the New Testament is not sufficient for our modern time. We must ADD drama to make our worship full of wonder. I totally reject the heretical idea that the Lord’s Supper needs to be propped up with man’s drama!!!
How often have we pointed out that religious people in general fail to respect the authority of Christ? Where is the respect for Christ’s authority demonstrated in the cry for the addition of drama to worship? It is a most unfortunate circumstance that even among churches of Christ there is this same lack of respect for the teaching of Colossians 3:17.
In view of what my Lord has endured for me, I surely believe that I have enough power of concentration to go back to that scene at Golgotha minus the aids of the sounds made by twenty actors! To defend such foolishness on the basis of bringing back the wonder of worship is the silliest sort of silliness.
Where is the authority of Christ for the use of drama groups in our worship to God? It is a fact indisputable that the world loves entertainment and that crowds of people can be drawn by it. However, do we disregard the will of the Lord just to draw a crowd? Surely we can remember the statement of our Lord regarding which way the crowd is headed.
Matt 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Why then should it appeal to us in any way whatsoever to have unauthorized drama in worship? What difference ought it to make to us that a crowd can be drawn by drama?
Oh, but there is the argument (?) that people can be reached by drama in ways that traditional teaching methods sometimes fail to do. Perhaps this is true–however I am not convinced. I do know this–PREACHING WAS A PART OF FIRST CENTURY WORSHIP (Acts 20:7; 2 Timothy 4:1-5). This is the God-approved method of dispensing His truth. Where is His stamp of approval for using actors to do so? Please consider these words from Dave Miller in Piloting the Strait…
The Bible everywhere represents God communicating
His word through preachers–not actors. God wants
His word presented very simply through oral
proclamation without the distractions and inventions of
man (1 Cor 2:1-5). Those pushing for drama in the
worship are essentially declaring to God that His way
of communicating His will is inadequate, defective, and
culturally obsolete. The ultimate effect of this alteration
will be a devaluing of preaching.
Certainly, as a preacher, you might expect me to value preaching, but any faithful Christian ought also so to value God’s chosen means of communicating His will.
I am truly saddened that attacks have been made on God’s plan for worship. Brethren, let’s get away from the concept that those who sit in the pew are the AUDIENCE for worship. It is only God who is The Audience for our worship. He has told us in His word that which He desires us to do.
May I make a suggestion for study for any who have a problem seeing the WONDER of worship as God ordained it–STUDY MORE ABOUT THE GOD WHO IS THE AUDIENCE FOR OUR WORSHIP. How can we know what God has revealed about Himself in His written word, the Bible, and fail to be awe-struck with tremendous wonder that He should seek us to worship Him (John 4:23-24).