Worship Mythbusters SPECIAL: What a worship leader can learn from the Beijing Olympic’s opening ceremonies

WMB SPECIAL — I am taking WMB on a detour writing a special post in this series about the Olympics.  This is part of a series here

 

MYTH:  Worship is nothing like the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

The Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing, China cost more than 300 million dollars.  It was indeed a spectacular display of culture and artistry and a celebration of humanity’s greatest efforts.  What I find interesting is that no major media person or popular public leader has complained about the cost.  Imagine if that money was spent on China’s poorest people.  Imagine if that money went to their own earthquake victims.  Well, you will not hear me echo those complaints.  The historical event was worth every penny, in my opinion.

Why is it that we can accept the value of a humanistic event in its glory and celebration while us Christians sour on our own efforts at creating culture in our weekly celebrations of worship?  In the past, we had pageantry, cathedrals and culture creation in art science and education.  Today, we mimic culture and do it as efficiently as possible.  How many Christian t-shirts have you seen that copy popular logos?

What we hear when we see extravagance in our celebration of our God today in church is complaint about the cost, the effort and the diversion of assets from “real” ministry.  Real ministry is something other than our gathering of worship, after all.  In fact, it is seems even popular today to say that worship is everything else besides our weekend gatherings!

We view our worship weekends as pragmatically as possible.  How many people can we reach?  What can we do to least offend?  What will people who are not Christians react to?  How does the worship weekend fit our current campaign or create buzz itself?

What Beijing’s Olympic opening ceremony teaches us in worship ministry is that worship costs.  Yeah, a good sound system, a well-tuned room and competent teachers and worship leadership effect the budget.  Quality takes effort.  The activity of this is not just to pragmatically provide movement to an organization, but to engage a congregation of people in an extravagant act of exaltation.  Beijing did it for their country.  Why not do it for our God?

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

72 comments

  1. Spot on. In fact we should put MORE emphasis on what we do because it is for God. We should invest more time in rehearsals, more effort, more resources, because He deserves our very best. Good is not good enough. God wants our very best.
    Jesus made the same analogy in pointing out the tithes in the temple treasury to his disciples in Mark 12: 41-44. We should be like the poor widow who “gave all owned.”

  2. Spot on. In fact we should put MORE emphasis on what we do because it is for God. We should invest more time in rehearsals, more effort, more resources, because He deserves our very best. Good is not good enough. God wants our very best.
    Jesus made the same analogy in pointing out the tithes in the temple treasury to his disciples in Mark 12: 41-44. We should be like the poor widow who “gave all owned.”

  3. Spot on. In fact we should put MORE emphasis on what we do because it is for God. We should invest more time in rehearsals, more effort, more resources, because He deserves our very best. Good is not good enough. God wants our very best.
    Jesus made the same analogy in pointing out the tithes in the temple treasury to his disciples in Mark 12: 41-44. We should be like the poor widow who “gave all owned.”

  4. Spot on. In fact we should put MORE emphasis on what we do because it is for God. We should invest more time in rehearsals, more effort, more resources, because He deserves our very best. Good is not good enough. God wants our very best.
    Jesus made the same analogy in pointing out the tithes in the temple treasury to his disciples in Mark 12: 41-44. We should be like the poor widow who “gave all owned.”

  5. “It would sound like wisdom, but for the warning in my heart.”
    Christ rode into Jerusalem to shouts and cheers, but it was on the back of a donkey.

    His followers didn’t take the route of extravagance, except in their obedience. Their worship was in gathering without clergy, without scripts, and without “sacred” spaces. Without priests. Christ was their focal point.

    When a group of Christ followers begin to take the New Testament seriously, then all of this other stuff just doesn’t become important to them any more.

    We should be encouraging people in our communities to put that effort on obedience to Christ more than ob creating a “WOW” experience. The state of the church, with shallow Christians, is the result of this mentality. Perhaps if we stuck a little closer to the Word that we’ve been given we’d see something different.

  6. “It would sound like wisdom, but for the warning in my heart.”
    Christ rode into Jerusalem to shouts and cheers, but it was on the back of a donkey.

    His followers didn’t take the route of extravagance, except in their obedience. Their worship was in gathering without clergy, without scripts, and without “sacred” spaces. Without priests. Christ was their focal point.

    When a group of Christ followers begin to take the New Testament seriously, then all of this other stuff just doesn’t become important to them any more.

    We should be encouraging people in our communities to put that effort on obedience to Christ more than ob creating a “WOW” experience. The state of the church, with shallow Christians, is the result of this mentality. Perhaps if we stuck a little closer to the Word that we’ve been given we’d see something different.

  7. “It would sound like wisdom, but for the warning in my heart.”
    Christ rode into Jerusalem to shouts and cheers, but it was on the back of a donkey.

    His followers didn’t take the route of extravagance, except in their obedience. Their worship was in gathering without clergy, without scripts, and without “sacred” spaces. Without priests. Christ was their focal point.

    When a group of Christ followers begin to take the New Testament seriously, then all of this other stuff just doesn’t become important to them any more.

    We should be encouraging people in our communities to put that effort on obedience to Christ more than ob creating a “WOW” experience. The state of the church, with shallow Christians, is the result of this mentality. Perhaps if we stuck a little closer to the Word that we’ve been given we’d see something different.

  8. “It would sound like wisdom, but for the warning in my heart.”
    Christ rode into Jerusalem to shouts and cheers, but it was on the back of a donkey.

    His followers didn’t take the route of extravagance, except in their obedience. Their worship was in gathering without clergy, without scripts, and without “sacred” spaces. Without priests. Christ was their focal point.

    When a group of Christ followers begin to take the New Testament seriously, then all of this other stuff just doesn’t become important to them any more.

    We should be encouraging people in our communities to put that effort on obedience to Christ more than ob creating a “WOW” experience. The state of the church, with shallow Christians, is the result of this mentality. Perhaps if we stuck a little closer to the Word that we’ve been given we’d see something different.

  9. Derek,
    You must have not understood the point..

    “The activity of this is not just to pragmatically provide movement to an organization, but to engage a congregation of people in an extravagant act of exaltation.”

    Judas was the first as a legalist to deride the woman who spent her jar of perfume on the feet of Jesus. It is clear that asceticism is not necessarily obedience and that openly giving God your best in a public worship gathering is not necessarily shallow.

    I just think it is the legalistic and judging voices that would speak against offering God our best–not for show, but for God. We can hide in boring bunker churches from the world and never let our light shine. I think it is very New Testament to let that light SHINE!

  10. Derek,
    You must have not understood the point..

    “The activity of this is not just to pragmatically provide movement to an organization, but to engage a congregation of people in an extravagant act of exaltation.”

    Judas was the first as a legalist to deride the woman who spent her jar of perfume on the feet of Jesus. It is clear that asceticism is not necessarily obedience and that openly giving God your best in a public worship gathering is not necessarily shallow.

    I just think it is the legalistic and judging voices that would speak against offering God our best–not for show, but for God. We can hide in boring bunker churches from the world and never let our light shine. I think it is very New Testament to let that light SHINE!

  11. Derek,
    You must have not understood the point..

    “The activity of this is not just to pragmatically provide movement to an organization, but to engage a congregation of people in an extravagant act of exaltation.”

    Judas was the first as a legalist to deride the woman who spent her jar of perfume on the feet of Jesus. It is clear that asceticism is not necessarily obedience and that openly giving God your best in a public worship gathering is not necessarily shallow.

    I just think it is the legalistic and judging voices that would speak against offering God our best–not for show, but for God. We can hide in boring bunker churches from the world and never let our light shine. I think it is very New Testament to let that light SHINE!

  12. Derek,
    You must have not understood the point..

    “The activity of this is not just to pragmatically provide movement to an organization, but to engage a congregation of people in an extravagant act of exaltation.”

    Judas was the first as a legalist to deride the woman who spent her jar of perfume on the feet of Jesus. It is clear that asceticism is not necessarily obedience and that openly giving God your best in a public worship gathering is not necessarily shallow.

    I just think it is the legalistic and judging voices that would speak against offering God our best–not for show, but for God. We can hide in boring bunker churches from the world and never let our light shine. I think it is very New Testament to let that light SHINE!

  13. There’s a balance to be sought here, I suppose, but if you take a serious look at the state of the modern church, you’ll see more pomp and circumstance and less serious attention to the Biblical principles of church gatherings. What we have currently (and we have had this emphasis for hundreds of years) is lots of attention to the outward quality of the gatherings while completely dismissing Paul’s discussions of what qualities those gatherings should actually have.
    It’s one thing to pour out everything you are in worship – it’s another thing to turn church into a weekly show. I think it’s a stretch to take such an intimate act of pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet and imply that Olympic opening ceremonies should somehow be our inspiration for church gatherings.

  14. There’s a balance to be sought here, I suppose, but if you take a serious look at the state of the modern church, you’ll see more pomp and circumstance and less serious attention to the Biblical principles of church gatherings. What we have currently (and we have had this emphasis for hundreds of years) is lots of attention to the outward quality of the gatherings while completely dismissing Paul’s discussions of what qualities those gatherings should actually have.
    It’s one thing to pour out everything you are in worship – it’s another thing to turn church into a weekly show. I think it’s a stretch to take such an intimate act of pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet and imply that Olympic opening ceremonies should somehow be our inspiration for church gatherings.

  15. There’s a balance to be sought here, I suppose, but if you take a serious look at the state of the modern church, you’ll see more pomp and circumstance and less serious attention to the Biblical principles of church gatherings. What we have currently (and we have had this emphasis for hundreds of years) is lots of attention to the outward quality of the gatherings while completely dismissing Paul’s discussions of what qualities those gatherings should actually have.
    It’s one thing to pour out everything you are in worship – it’s another thing to turn church into a weekly show. I think it’s a stretch to take such an intimate act of pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet and imply that Olympic opening ceremonies should somehow be our inspiration for church gatherings.

  16. There’s a balance to be sought here, I suppose, but if you take a serious look at the state of the modern church, you’ll see more pomp and circumstance and less serious attention to the Biblical principles of church gatherings. What we have currently (and we have had this emphasis for hundreds of years) is lots of attention to the outward quality of the gatherings while completely dismissing Paul’s discussions of what qualities those gatherings should actually have.
    It’s one thing to pour out everything you are in worship – it’s another thing to turn church into a weekly show. I think it’s a stretch to take such an intimate act of pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet and imply that Olympic opening ceremonies should somehow be our inspiration for church gatherings.

  17. Couldn’t have said it better myself Rich. I have nothing to add, Great job man!

  18. Couldn’t have said it better myself Rich. I have nothing to add, Great job man!

  19. Couldn’t have said it better myself Rich. I have nothing to add, Great job man!

  20. Couldn’t have said it better myself Rich. I have nothing to add, Great job man!

  21. Derek… How about the OT? Should that not count, too? How about the Matthew party–extravagant. The water into wine–extravagant. The entertaining sermons by Jesus in front of thousands–extravagant.
    Extravagant worship expression is not mutually exclusive to all the things your are talking about. See a reality where the “both and” exists and you can accept both as true together.

    Extravagance WITHOUT the devotion is empty, for sure. But, that logically does not make extravagance with devotion a problem.

    (I appreciate your zealousness, but really you need your own blog on this brother. 😉 )

  22. Derek… How about the OT? Should that not count, too? How about the Matthew party–extravagant. The water into wine–extravagant. The entertaining sermons by Jesus in front of thousands–extravagant.
    Extravagant worship expression is not mutually exclusive to all the things your are talking about. See a reality where the “both and” exists and you can accept both as true together.

    Extravagance WITHOUT the devotion is empty, for sure. But, that logically does not make extravagance with devotion a problem.

    (I appreciate your zealousness, but really you need your own blog on this brother. 😉 )

  23. Derek… How about the OT? Should that not count, too? How about the Matthew party–extravagant. The water into wine–extravagant. The entertaining sermons by Jesus in front of thousands–extravagant.
    Extravagant worship expression is not mutually exclusive to all the things your are talking about. See a reality where the “both and” exists and you can accept both as true together.

    Extravagance WITHOUT the devotion is empty, for sure. But, that logically does not make extravagance with devotion a problem.

    (I appreciate your zealousness, but really you need your own blog on this brother. 😉 )

  24. Derek… How about the OT? Should that not count, too? How about the Matthew party–extravagant. The water into wine–extravagant. The entertaining sermons by Jesus in front of thousands–extravagant.
    Extravagant worship expression is not mutually exclusive to all the things your are talking about. See a reality where the “both and” exists and you can accept both as true together.

    Extravagance WITHOUT the devotion is empty, for sure. But, that logically does not make extravagance with devotion a problem.

    (I appreciate your zealousness, but really you need your own blog on this brother. 😉 )

  25. The point is whether the thesis stands on its own merits; the attacks of legalists or others don’t validate the point. I’m sorry about the legalists seething in anger; thankfully I don’t have to deal with them.
    My opinion is that it is good to borrow elements from other cultures, but these elements should be profitable. If we started a church in China I’d be much more open to borrowing Chinese elements. I would borrow true Chinese cultural elements rather than elements from a $300-million public relations event sponsored by one of the worst human-rights violators in existence on this earth today. The irony here is that despite the oppression to Christ of the Chinese government the Christian church in China is growing at a much faster rate than the Christian church in America. You want bold worship? How about the boldness to continue the worshship service if soldiers crashed into our church building on Sunday morning and threatened to shoot anyone who didn’t stop singing?

    I walked in on an awesome worship service in the acute-care facility in which my dad is a patient. The leader was one man on an amplified acousitic guitar who when he didn’t know the next chord, he simply stayed with the chord he happened to be playing. A tambourine player incessantly slammed out the one and the three. There was all manner of intonation problems in these 80-plus-years-old voices. The music standing alone by itself would hurt the listener’s ears. On the other hand, the heartfelt expression and energy was intoxicating. You could hear them two halls away from their community room. The per-capita vocal output of the eight people attending was greater than twenty typical church-attenders. It was so captivating that I went down to check it out and was ready to ask if I could join them but there was no piano in the community room. The point is: it wasn’t the facility or the quality that was driving their worship. This was example of bold, heartfelt, giving-it-all-they-had, two-mites-into-the-treasury worship from people who aren’t very sure they’ll be alive tomorrow.

  26. The point is whether the thesis stands on its own merits; the attacks of legalists or others don’t validate the point. I’m sorry about the legalists seething in anger; thankfully I don’t have to deal with them.
    My opinion is that it is good to borrow elements from other cultures, but these elements should be profitable. If we started a church in China I’d be much more open to borrowing Chinese elements. I would borrow true Chinese cultural elements rather than elements from a $300-million public relations event sponsored by one of the worst human-rights violators in existence on this earth today. The irony here is that despite the oppression to Christ of the Chinese government the Christian church in China is growing at a much faster rate than the Christian church in America. You want bold worship? How about the boldness to continue the worshship service if soldiers crashed into our church building on Sunday morning and threatened to shoot anyone who didn’t stop singing?

    I walked in on an awesome worship service in the acute-care facility in which my dad is a patient. The leader was one man on an amplified acousitic guitar who when he didn’t know the next chord, he simply stayed with the chord he happened to be playing. A tambourine player incessantly slammed out the one and the three. There was all manner of intonation problems in these 80-plus-years-old voices. The music standing alone by itself would hurt the listener’s ears. On the other hand, the heartfelt expression and energy was intoxicating. You could hear them two halls away from their community room. The per-capita vocal output of the eight people attending was greater than twenty typical church-attenders. It was so captivating that I went down to check it out and was ready to ask if I could join them but there was no piano in the community room. The point is: it wasn’t the facility or the quality that was driving their worship. This was example of bold, heartfelt, giving-it-all-they-had, two-mites-into-the-treasury worship from people who aren’t very sure they’ll be alive tomorrow.

  27. The point is whether the thesis stands on its own merits; the attacks of legalists or others don’t validate the point. I’m sorry about the legalists seething in anger; thankfully I don’t have to deal with them.
    My opinion is that it is good to borrow elements from other cultures, but these elements should be profitable. If we started a church in China I’d be much more open to borrowing Chinese elements. I would borrow true Chinese cultural elements rather than elements from a $300-million public relations event sponsored by one of the worst human-rights violators in existence on this earth today. The irony here is that despite the oppression to Christ of the Chinese government the Christian church in China is growing at a much faster rate than the Christian church in America. You want bold worship? How about the boldness to continue the worshship service if soldiers crashed into our church building on Sunday morning and threatened to shoot anyone who didn’t stop singing?

    I walked in on an awesome worship service in the acute-care facility in which my dad is a patient. The leader was one man on an amplified acousitic guitar who when he didn’t know the next chord, he simply stayed with the chord he happened to be playing. A tambourine player incessantly slammed out the one and the three. There was all manner of intonation problems in these 80-plus-years-old voices. The music standing alone by itself would hurt the listener’s ears. On the other hand, the heartfelt expression and energy was intoxicating. You could hear them two halls away from their community room. The per-capita vocal output of the eight people attending was greater than twenty typical church-attenders. It was so captivating that I went down to check it out and was ready to ask if I could join them but there was no piano in the community room. The point is: it wasn’t the facility or the quality that was driving their worship. This was example of bold, heartfelt, giving-it-all-they-had, two-mites-into-the-treasury worship from people who aren’t very sure they’ll be alive tomorrow.

  28. The point is whether the thesis stands on its own merits; the attacks of legalists or others don’t validate the point. I’m sorry about the legalists seething in anger; thankfully I don’t have to deal with them.
    My opinion is that it is good to borrow elements from other cultures, but these elements should be profitable. If we started a church in China I’d be much more open to borrowing Chinese elements. I would borrow true Chinese cultural elements rather than elements from a $300-million public relations event sponsored by one of the worst human-rights violators in existence on this earth today. The irony here is that despite the oppression to Christ of the Chinese government the Christian church in China is growing at a much faster rate than the Christian church in America. You want bold worship? How about the boldness to continue the worshship service if soldiers crashed into our church building on Sunday morning and threatened to shoot anyone who didn’t stop singing?

    I walked in on an awesome worship service in the acute-care facility in which my dad is a patient. The leader was one man on an amplified acousitic guitar who when he didn’t know the next chord, he simply stayed with the chord he happened to be playing. A tambourine player incessantly slammed out the one and the three. There was all manner of intonation problems in these 80-plus-years-old voices. The music standing alone by itself would hurt the listener’s ears. On the other hand, the heartfelt expression and energy was intoxicating. You could hear them two halls away from their community room. The per-capita vocal output of the eight people attending was greater than twenty typical church-attenders. It was so captivating that I went down to check it out and was ready to ask if I could join them but there was no piano in the community room. The point is: it wasn’t the facility or the quality that was driving their worship. This was example of bold, heartfelt, giving-it-all-they-had, two-mites-into-the-treasury worship from people who aren’t very sure they’ll be alive tomorrow.

  29. I’m not sure the lack of celebrity comment on the Beijing ceremony is meaningful, but that’s not my point. It certainly isn’t a logical bridge to using it as a model for a worship service. It’s debatable that a case can be made for an extravagant public worship display based on the woman anointing the feet of Jesus. Judas’ comment is meaningless to the legalism argument because his only motive was to have pilfered the money. What Beijing’s Olympic opening ceremony teaches us is that an extravagant ceremony costs a lot of money — it doesn’t teach us anything about worship ministry.
    Paul says that all is lawful but not necessarily profitable, so an extravagant worship service would be lawful, but is it profitable? How would an extravagant service be better? How would more lives be changed? If asceticism squelched our worship services in the past, is it the correct motive to be extravagant for the sake of correcting anti-asceticism? Shouldn’t there be a sound, profitable reason?

    I agree that there is “real ministry” that needs to be done among our own people, and a public worship service should be a place for that to happen. But, in a church like ours, where mature followers are expected to feed themselves, would this not also apply to them being able to worship themselves? This question is rhetorical; it points out an area of confusion and inconsistency.

    If we would like to see culture created in the church, why would we import the humanistic culture of a Beijing-like ceremony that celebrates man instead of God? Why don’t we start with some smaller steps, like making videos that are not based on Anhuiser-Busch culture. Dude! Maybe we should rid our services of song lyrics that may be spiritual but not completely Biblically-based. If quality needs to be improved, maybe longer practices are needed.

    Part of the culture-creation problem is we as a church cannot reconcile the new Authenticity with our being the Ekklesia — the called-out ones. We want to show the world how much more like them we are than they might have thought, but then we wonder why no Christ-like culture is being created. When some in the modern church expound non-Emergent philosophies, they are labeled as legalists and ascetics. The modern American church is way confused. This is why 29/30 of the last 10 years growth of Christianity occurred outside of the United States.

    Our light will shine by our love, not our worship services, extravagant or ascetic. John 13:35.

  30. I’m not sure the lack of celebrity comment on the Beijing ceremony is meaningful, but that’s not my point. It certainly isn’t a logical bridge to using it as a model for a worship service. It’s debatable that a case can be made for an extravagant public worship display based on the woman anointing the feet of Jesus. Judas’ comment is meaningless to the legalism argument because his only motive was to have pilfered the money. What Beijing’s Olympic opening ceremony teaches us is that an extravagant ceremony costs a lot of money — it doesn’t teach us anything about worship ministry.
    Paul says that all is lawful but not necessarily profitable, so an extravagant worship service would be lawful, but is it profitable? How would an extravagant service be better? How would more lives be changed? If asceticism squelched our worship services in the past, is it the correct motive to be extravagant for the sake of correcting anti-asceticism? Shouldn’t there be a sound, profitable reason?

    I agree that there is “real ministry” that needs to be done among our own people, and a public worship service should be a place for that to happen. But, in a church like ours, where mature followers are expected to feed themselves, would this not also apply to them being able to worship themselves? This question is rhetorical; it points out an area of confusion and inconsistency.

    If we would like to see culture created in the church, why would we import the humanistic culture of a Beijing-like ceremony that celebrates man instead of God? Why don’t we start with some smaller steps, like making videos that are not based on Anhuiser-Busch culture. Dude! Maybe we should rid our services of song lyrics that may be spiritual but not completely Biblically-based. If quality needs to be improved, maybe longer practices are needed.

    Part of the culture-creation problem is we as a church cannot reconcile the new Authenticity with our being the Ekklesia — the called-out ones. We want to show the world how much more like them we are than they might have thought, but then we wonder why no Christ-like culture is being created. When some in the modern church expound non-Emergent philosophies, they are labeled as legalists and ascetics. The modern American church is way confused. This is why 29/30 of the last 10 years growth of Christianity occurred outside of the United States.

    Our light will shine by our love, not our worship services, extravagant or ascetic. John 13:35.

  31. I’m not sure the lack of celebrity comment on the Beijing ceremony is meaningful, but that’s not my point. It certainly isn’t a logical bridge to using it as a model for a worship service. It’s debatable that a case can be made for an extravagant public worship display based on the woman anointing the feet of Jesus. Judas’ comment is meaningless to the legalism argument because his only motive was to have pilfered the money. What Beijing’s Olympic opening ceremony teaches us is that an extravagant ceremony costs a lot of money — it doesn’t teach us anything about worship ministry.
    Paul says that all is lawful but not necessarily profitable, so an extravagant worship service would be lawful, but is it profitable? How would an extravagant service be better? How would more lives be changed? If asceticism squelched our worship services in the past, is it the correct motive to be extravagant for the sake of correcting anti-asceticism? Shouldn’t there be a sound, profitable reason?

    I agree that there is “real ministry” that needs to be done among our own people, and a public worship service should be a place for that to happen. But, in a church like ours, where mature followers are expected to feed themselves, would this not also apply to them being able to worship themselves? This question is rhetorical; it points out an area of confusion and inconsistency.

    If we would like to see culture created in the church, why would we import the humanistic culture of a Beijing-like ceremony that celebrates man instead of God? Why don’t we start with some smaller steps, like making videos that are not based on Anhuiser-Busch culture. Dude! Maybe we should rid our services of song lyrics that may be spiritual but not completely Biblically-based. If quality needs to be improved, maybe longer practices are needed.

    Part of the culture-creation problem is we as a church cannot reconcile the new Authenticity with our being the Ekklesia — the called-out ones. We want to show the world how much more like them we are than they might have thought, but then we wonder why no Christ-like culture is being created. When some in the modern church expound non-Emergent philosophies, they are labeled as legalists and ascetics. The modern American church is way confused. This is why 29/30 of the last 10 years growth of Christianity occurred outside of the United States.

    Our light will shine by our love, not our worship services, extravagant or ascetic. John 13:35.

  32. I’m not sure the lack of celebrity comment on the Beijing ceremony is meaningful, but that’s not my point. It certainly isn’t a logical bridge to using it as a model for a worship service. It’s debatable that a case can be made for an extravagant public worship display based on the woman anointing the feet of Jesus. Judas’ comment is meaningless to the legalism argument because his only motive was to have pilfered the money. What Beijing’s Olympic opening ceremony teaches us is that an extravagant ceremony costs a lot of money — it doesn’t teach us anything about worship ministry.
    Paul says that all is lawful but not necessarily profitable, so an extravagant worship service would be lawful, but is it profitable? How would an extravagant service be better? How would more lives be changed? If asceticism squelched our worship services in the past, is it the correct motive to be extravagant for the sake of correcting anti-asceticism? Shouldn’t there be a sound, profitable reason?

    I agree that there is “real ministry” that needs to be done among our own people, and a public worship service should be a place for that to happen. But, in a church like ours, where mature followers are expected to feed themselves, would this not also apply to them being able to worship themselves? This question is rhetorical; it points out an area of confusion and inconsistency.

    If we would like to see culture created in the church, why would we import the humanistic culture of a Beijing-like ceremony that celebrates man instead of God? Why don’t we start with some smaller steps, like making videos that are not based on Anhuiser-Busch culture. Dude! Maybe we should rid our services of song lyrics that may be spiritual but not completely Biblically-based. If quality needs to be improved, maybe longer practices are needed.

    Part of the culture-creation problem is we as a church cannot reconcile the new Authenticity with our being the Ekklesia — the called-out ones. We want to show the world how much more like them we are than they might have thought, but then we wonder why no Christ-like culture is being created. When some in the modern church expound non-Emergent philosophies, they are labeled as legalists and ascetics. The modern American church is way confused. This is why 29/30 of the last 10 years growth of Christianity occurred outside of the United States.

    Our light will shine by our love, not our worship services, extravagant or ascetic. John 13:35.

  33. Dan,
    Why would worship of God not be a “sound and profitable” idea on its own? It is our eternal purpose as individuals and as the Church.

    Judas and legalism IS THE POINT! Legalists will always seethe in anger against passionate extravagant expression to God. Think of David’s wife Michal. She had the same attitude upon seeing his outburst of worship at the very parade he orchestrated. The hard heart of the legalist will use any excuse–feeding the poor, being dignified, keeping the sabbath.

    The idea is that is not too create a huge event or show but to ask our hearts if we are willing to accept the worship of the Chinese state in such a fashion, why are we so loathe to accept the worship of God being even half as extravagant? If that is globally a culturally indigenous way to express worship, why not be as bold for our worship of God?

  34. Dan,
    Why would worship of God not be a “sound and profitable” idea on its own? It is our eternal purpose as individuals and as the Church.

    Judas and legalism IS THE POINT! Legalists will always seethe in anger against passionate extravagant expression to God. Think of David’s wife Michal. She had the same attitude upon seeing his outburst of worship at the very parade he orchestrated. The hard heart of the legalist will use any excuse–feeding the poor, being dignified, keeping the sabbath.

    The idea is that is not too create a huge event or show but to ask our hearts if we are willing to accept the worship of the Chinese state in such a fashion, why are we so loathe to accept the worship of God being even half as extravagant? If that is globally a culturally indigenous way to express worship, why not be as bold for our worship of God?

  35. Dan,
    Why would worship of God not be a “sound and profitable” idea on its own? It is our eternal purpose as individuals and as the Church.

    Judas and legalism IS THE POINT! Legalists will always seethe in anger against passionate extravagant expression to God. Think of David’s wife Michal. She had the same attitude upon seeing his outburst of worship at the very parade he orchestrated. The hard heart of the legalist will use any excuse–feeding the poor, being dignified, keeping the sabbath.

    The idea is that is not too create a huge event or show but to ask our hearts if we are willing to accept the worship of the Chinese state in such a fashion, why are we so loathe to accept the worship of God being even half as extravagant? If that is globally a culturally indigenous way to express worship, why not be as bold for our worship of God?

  36. Dan,
    Why would worship of God not be a “sound and profitable” idea on its own? It is our eternal purpose as individuals and as the Church.

    Judas and legalism IS THE POINT! Legalists will always seethe in anger against passionate extravagant expression to God. Think of David’s wife Michal. She had the same attitude upon seeing his outburst of worship at the very parade he orchestrated. The hard heart of the legalist will use any excuse–feeding the poor, being dignified, keeping the sabbath.

    The idea is that is not too create a huge event or show but to ask our hearts if we are willing to accept the worship of the Chinese state in such a fashion, why are we so loathe to accept the worship of God being even half as extravagant? If that is globally a culturally indigenous way to express worship, why not be as bold for our worship of God?

  37. Rich,Agreed. God is certainly more worthy of extravagance than the Olympics.

    I can’t think of one passage of scripture where God got angry because people were too extravagant in their worship.

    Actually, lack of extravagance (ie bringing a blemished sheep in Malachi 1:8) seemed to indicate a lack in heart condition. Heart condition is what God is really after.

  38. Rich,Agreed. God is certainly more worthy of extravagance than the Olympics.

    I can’t think of one passage of scripture where God got angry because people were too extravagant in their worship.

    Actually, lack of extravagance (ie bringing a blemished sheep in Malachi 1:8) seemed to indicate a lack in heart condition. Heart condition is what God is really after.

  39. Rich,Agreed. God is certainly more worthy of extravagance than the Olympics.

    I can’t think of one passage of scripture where God got angry because people were too extravagant in their worship.

    Actually, lack of extravagance (ie bringing a blemished sheep in Malachi 1:8) seemed to indicate a lack in heart condition. Heart condition is what God is really after.

  40. Rich,Agreed. God is certainly more worthy of extravagance than the Olympics.

    I can’t think of one passage of scripture where God got angry because people were too extravagant in their worship.

    Actually, lack of extravagance (ie bringing a blemished sheep in Malachi 1:8) seemed to indicate a lack in heart condition. Heart condition is what God is really after.

  41. Rich, I would argue that the church has, for the past 1500 years or so, concentrated on culturally relevant and outwardly extravagant forms of worship at the expense of creating true disciples through the Biblical principles of unity, love, compassion, charity, miracle-working, apostleship, mutual edification, priesthood of all believers, etc. There are so many straightforward issues of the ecclesia that are absurdly absent from our churches today, or at best are present in a small minority but not reflected in the gatherings. If you think bigger and better productions would make a difference there, then go for it. But I know that Christ chose a different path, and what I want to see is the fruit of the church match what the New Testament says it should look like.
    Just because Egypt built the pyramids and Israel built the temple doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to do the same types of things. The kingdom we’re in is totally different, and extravagance is measured in a different way. It is our love for one another, and our love for and obedience to Christ, that is supposed to be extravagant. I’ve never once read an issue about “quality” in the New Testament writings, but I see a heck of a lot about righteousness, holiness, and love for each other.

  42. Rich, I would argue that the church has, for the past 1500 years or so, concentrated on culturally relevant and outwardly extravagant forms of worship at the expense of creating true disciples through the Biblical principles of unity, love, compassion, charity, miracle-working, apostleship, mutual edification, priesthood of all believers, etc. There are so many straightforward issues of the ecclesia that are absurdly absent from our churches today, or at best are present in a small minority but not reflected in the gatherings. If you think bigger and better productions would make a difference there, then go for it. But I know that Christ chose a different path, and what I want to see is the fruit of the church match what the New Testament says it should look like.
    Just because Egypt built the pyramids and Israel built the temple doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to do the same types of things. The kingdom we’re in is totally different, and extravagance is measured in a different way. It is our love for one another, and our love for and obedience to Christ, that is supposed to be extravagant. I’ve never once read an issue about “quality” in the New Testament writings, but I see a heck of a lot about righteousness, holiness, and love for each other.

  43. Rich, I would argue that the church has, for the past 1500 years or so, concentrated on culturally relevant and outwardly extravagant forms of worship at the expense of creating true disciples through the Biblical principles of unity, love, compassion, charity, miracle-working, apostleship, mutual edification, priesthood of all believers, etc. There are so many straightforward issues of the ecclesia that are absurdly absent from our churches today, or at best are present in a small minority but not reflected in the gatherings. If you think bigger and better productions would make a difference there, then go for it. But I know that Christ chose a different path, and what I want to see is the fruit of the church match what the New Testament says it should look like.
    Just because Egypt built the pyramids and Israel built the temple doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to do the same types of things. The kingdom we’re in is totally different, and extravagance is measured in a different way. It is our love for one another, and our love for and obedience to Christ, that is supposed to be extravagant. I’ve never once read an issue about “quality” in the New Testament writings, but I see a heck of a lot about righteousness, holiness, and love for each other.

  44. Rich, I would argue that the church has, for the past 1500 years or so, concentrated on culturally relevant and outwardly extravagant forms of worship at the expense of creating true disciples through the Biblical principles of unity, love, compassion, charity, miracle-working, apostleship, mutual edification, priesthood of all believers, etc. There are so many straightforward issues of the ecclesia that are absurdly absent from our churches today, or at best are present in a small minority but not reflected in the gatherings. If you think bigger and better productions would make a difference there, then go for it. But I know that Christ chose a different path, and what I want to see is the fruit of the church match what the New Testament says it should look like.
    Just because Egypt built the pyramids and Israel built the temple doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to do the same types of things. The kingdom we’re in is totally different, and extravagance is measured in a different way. It is our love for one another, and our love for and obedience to Christ, that is supposed to be extravagant. I’ve never once read an issue about “quality” in the New Testament writings, but I see a heck of a lot about righteousness, holiness, and love for each other.

  45. There are ways that the OT counts, yes, but overall, we are under a new covenant. In the OT, God has a physical place where his Spirit resided – now, it resides in His body, the church. In the OT, priests were required in order for the people to communicate with God – now, we are all priests, and the idea of clergy confuses that (at best).
    The kingdom of the OT was an earthly kingdom. The kingdom of the NT is a heavenly kingdom. There are distinct differences and we should acknowledge them.

    The problem with the kind of extravagance you’re advocating is that it does not even imply or reveal true devotion to Christ. For 98% of churches in North America, it doesn’t really matter whether or not Christ is present during the worship service. Pretty much the same thing will happen, regardless. Further, it is easy enough for anyone who is not devoted to Christ to do pretty much the same things with similar results.

    In comparison, NT gatherings of the ecclesia looked towards Christ as the head and the author of the gathering, and proceeded as guided by the Holy Spirit. It required the people to be fully devoted to Christ in order to work. The extravagance should come from the mysteries revealed, the miracles performed, the love and unity between brethren, and the revelation of Christ through His body. We do not have that in our churches today. So we’ve made up for it with a level of outward extravagance that has no NT basis.

    Overall, I’d be fine with the production churches held if they were secondary, if they simply supported organic gatherings where all of the gifts of the church could be expressed, and if the church put significantly more effort into obedience to Christ’s explicit commands (love one another, care for those with needs, etc) as opposed to trying to justify our entertainment value through theological leaps and bounds, or by diminishing the new covenant by bringing in justifications from the old covenant and trying to take on values and norms from the world.

  46. There are ways that the OT counts, yes, but overall, we are under a new covenant. In the OT, God has a physical place where his Spirit resided – now, it resides in His body, the church. In the OT, priests were required in order for the people to communicate with God – now, we are all priests, and the idea of clergy confuses that (at best).
    The kingdom of the OT was an earthly kingdom. The kingdom of the NT is a heavenly kingdom. There are distinct differences and we should acknowledge them.

    The problem with the kind of extravagance you’re advocating is that it does not even imply or reveal true devotion to Christ. For 98% of churches in North America, it doesn’t really matter whether or not Christ is present during the worship service. Pretty much the same thing will happen, regardless. Further, it is easy enough for anyone who is not devoted to Christ to do pretty much the same things with similar results.

    In comparison, NT gatherings of the ecclesia looked towards Christ as the head and the author of the gathering, and proceeded as guided by the Holy Spirit. It required the people to be fully devoted to Christ in order to work. The extravagance should come from the mysteries revealed, the miracles performed, the love and unity between brethren, and the revelation of Christ through His body. We do not have that in our churches today. So we’ve made up for it with a level of outward extravagance that has no NT basis.

    Overall, I’d be fine with the production churches held if they were secondary, if they simply supported organic gatherings where all of the gifts of the church could be expressed, and if the church put significantly more effort into obedience to Christ’s explicit commands (love one another, care for those with needs, etc) as opposed to trying to justify our entertainment value through theological leaps and bounds, or by diminishing the new covenant by bringing in justifications from the old covenant and trying to take on values and norms from the world.

  47. There are ways that the OT counts, yes, but overall, we are under a new covenant. In the OT, God has a physical place where his Spirit resided – now, it resides in His body, the church. In the OT, priests were required in order for the people to communicate with God – now, we are all priests, and the idea of clergy confuses that (at best).
    The kingdom of the OT was an earthly kingdom. The kingdom of the NT is a heavenly kingdom. There are distinct differences and we should acknowledge them.

    The problem with the kind of extravagance you’re advocating is that it does not even imply or reveal true devotion to Christ. For 98% of churches in North America, it doesn’t really matter whether or not Christ is present during the worship service. Pretty much the same thing will happen, regardless. Further, it is easy enough for anyone who is not devoted to Christ to do pretty much the same things with similar results.

    In comparison, NT gatherings of the ecclesia looked towards Christ as the head and the author of the gathering, and proceeded as guided by the Holy Spirit. It required the people to be fully devoted to Christ in order to work. The extravagance should come from the mysteries revealed, the miracles performed, the love and unity between brethren, and the revelation of Christ through His body. We do not have that in our churches today. So we’ve made up for it with a level of outward extravagance that has no NT basis.

    Overall, I’d be fine with the production churches held if they were secondary, if they simply supported organic gatherings where all of the gifts of the church could be expressed, and if the church put significantly more effort into obedience to Christ’s explicit commands (love one another, care for those with needs, etc) as opposed to trying to justify our entertainment value through theological leaps and bounds, or by diminishing the new covenant by bringing in justifications from the old covenant and trying to take on values and norms from the world.

  48. There are ways that the OT counts, yes, but overall, we are under a new covenant. In the OT, God has a physical place where his Spirit resided – now, it resides in His body, the church. In the OT, priests were required in order for the people to communicate with God – now, we are all priests, and the idea of clergy confuses that (at best).
    The kingdom of the OT was an earthly kingdom. The kingdom of the NT is a heavenly kingdom. There are distinct differences and we should acknowledge them.

    The problem with the kind of extravagance you’re advocating is that it does not even imply or reveal true devotion to Christ. For 98% of churches in North America, it doesn’t really matter whether or not Christ is present during the worship service. Pretty much the same thing will happen, regardless. Further, it is easy enough for anyone who is not devoted to Christ to do pretty much the same things with similar results.

    In comparison, NT gatherings of the ecclesia looked towards Christ as the head and the author of the gathering, and proceeded as guided by the Holy Spirit. It required the people to be fully devoted to Christ in order to work. The extravagance should come from the mysteries revealed, the miracles performed, the love and unity between brethren, and the revelation of Christ through His body. We do not have that in our churches today. So we’ve made up for it with a level of outward extravagance that has no NT basis.

    Overall, I’d be fine with the production churches held if they were secondary, if they simply supported organic gatherings where all of the gifts of the church could be expressed, and if the church put significantly more effort into obedience to Christ’s explicit commands (love one another, care for those with needs, etc) as opposed to trying to justify our entertainment value through theological leaps and bounds, or by diminishing the new covenant by bringing in justifications from the old covenant and trying to take on values and norms from the world.

  49. I appreciate Derek’s and Dan’s thoughtful comments on this matter. They make very good points. Well put!

  50. I appreciate Derek’s and Dan’s thoughtful comments on this matter. They make very good points. Well put!

  51. I appreciate Derek’s and Dan’s thoughtful comments on this matter. They make very good points. Well put!

  52. I appreciate Derek’s and Dan’s thoughtful comments on this matter. They make very good points. Well put!

  53. I’ve read through all of these comments as well as the blog, and a passage of scripture kept coming to mind from 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 (part of it below)
    ” 23″Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others…. 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”

    Rich, I get what you are saying. I’ve already considered how I will apply it to my next worship service planning. Commenters, I would put emphasis on this verse “whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.” I think that this is the point Rich was trying to make.

    Ya’ll all had some valid points, I would just venture to say that Rich is moreso challenging us to let the walls of routine and limits fall so that we may express to God how thankful we are and how great we know He is.

    This could be expressed from a simple, unformatted and tone deaf hymn singing to a lights and fog moment of perfectly timed climax to one person standing up to share testimony b/c she chooses not to be silenced about how God saved her.

  54. I’ve read through all of these comments as well as the blog, and a passage of scripture kept coming to mind from 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 (part of it below)
    ” 23″Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others…. 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”

    Rich, I get what you are saying. I’ve already considered how I will apply it to my next worship service planning. Commenters, I would put emphasis on this verse “whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.” I think that this is the point Rich was trying to make.

    Ya’ll all had some valid points, I would just venture to say that Rich is moreso challenging us to let the walls of routine and limits fall so that we may express to God how thankful we are and how great we know He is.

    This could be expressed from a simple, unformatted and tone deaf hymn singing to a lights and fog moment of perfectly timed climax to one person standing up to share testimony b/c she chooses not to be silenced about how God saved her.

  55. I’ve read through all of these comments as well as the blog, and a passage of scripture kept coming to mind from 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 (part of it below)
    ” 23″Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others…. 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”

    Rich, I get what you are saying. I’ve already considered how I will apply it to my next worship service planning. Commenters, I would put emphasis on this verse “whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.” I think that this is the point Rich was trying to make.

    Ya’ll all had some valid points, I would just venture to say that Rich is moreso challenging us to let the walls of routine and limits fall so that we may express to God how thankful we are and how great we know He is.

    This could be expressed from a simple, unformatted and tone deaf hymn singing to a lights and fog moment of perfectly timed climax to one person standing up to share testimony b/c she chooses not to be silenced about how God saved her.

  56. I’ve read through all of these comments as well as the blog, and a passage of scripture kept coming to mind from 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 (part of it below)
    ” 23″Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others…. 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”

    Rich, I get what you are saying. I’ve already considered how I will apply it to my next worship service planning. Commenters, I would put emphasis on this verse “whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.” I think that this is the point Rich was trying to make.

    Ya’ll all had some valid points, I would just venture to say that Rich is moreso challenging us to let the walls of routine and limits fall so that we may express to God how thankful we are and how great we know He is.

    This could be expressed from a simple, unformatted and tone deaf hymn singing to a lights and fog moment of perfectly timed climax to one person standing up to share testimony b/c she chooses not to be silenced about how God saved her.

  57. Rich,
    Sorry for the butcher job. I usually do a better job than that, I don’t know why all those extra “c’s” were in there. It’s fixed now. I agree with what you said as well.

  58. Rich,
    Sorry for the butcher job. I usually do a better job than that, I don’t know why all those extra “c’s” were in there. It’s fixed now. I agree with what you said as well.

  59. Rich,
    Sorry for the butcher job. I usually do a better job than that, I don’t know why all those extra “c’s” were in there. It’s fixed now. I agree with what you said as well.

  60. Rich,
    Sorry for the butcher job. I usually do a better job than that, I don’t know why all those extra “c’s” were in there. It’s fixed now. I agree with what you said as well.

  61. […] lack of sleep they have had as a result of staying up too late to watch them. We talk about a topic Rich Kirkpatrick brought up on his blog. After that we get into wrapping up our discussion on Worship Service Evaluation, among other […]

  62. […] lack of sleep they have had as a result of staying up too late to watch them. We talk about a topic Rich Kirkpatrick brought up on his blog. After that we get into wrapping up our discussion on Worship Service Evaluation, among other […]

  63. […] lack of sleep they have had as a result of staying up too late to watch them. We talk about a topic Rich Kirkpatrick brought up on his blog. After that we get into wrapping up our discussion on Worship Service Evaluation, among other […]

  64. […] lack of sleep they have had as a result of staying up too late to watch them. We talk about a topic Rich Kirkpatrick brought up on his blog. After that we get into wrapping up our discussion on Worship Service Evaluation, among other […]

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