Biblical Worship

14. Ten Contemporary Lies About Worship

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
The philosophy promoted by the purveyors of counterfeit worship can be summed up in ten un-Biblical statements.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part 14 of a 20-part series. Read part 13.

The philosophy promoted by the purveyors of counterfeit worship can be summed up in ten un-Biblical statements.

These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:8-9)

In our last article I began to describe a so-called "worship conference" that I attended as an observer two years ago. Several thousand pastors gathered to be willingly indoctrinated in the principles of counterfeit worship.

What were they learning? What were several thousand pastors and church leaders being told they must do to attract the un-churched?

The Ten Lies

The core of the philosophy promoted at this conference can be summed up in ten false statements. I think it is fitting to call these ten statements the Ten Lies of 21st-Century Counterfeit worship. They are ten of the most common and most believed false teachings about worship today.

  • Lie number one: The Bible does not give the church specific instruction about how to worship God.
  • Therefore, lie number two: God will accept anything we offer if we call it "worship" and it is done with passion, sincerity, and excellence.
  • And that is because, lie number three: God is not the sole audience for worship. Practically speaking, man is the principal audience.
  • You see, lie number four: The purpose of worship is to draw the un-churched into your church. They are the audience you must seek to attract and please.
  • And therefore, lie number five: Worship must make the un-churched feel comfortable, and it must impress them. These things, above all else, must be a church's goals.
  • And so, lie number six: Worship must constantly change with the times and the culture. As the tastes of the un-churched change, the church must change to satisfy them.
  • And therefore, lie number seven: Worship is a matter of style or taste - "contemporary" vs. "traditional" - or as we are hearing it more often now from industry gurus, "new worship" vs. "old worship." "Old worship" may be what you did in last week's service. If it did not impress people, if it did not "work," say the industry experts, discard it. Move on. Try something new, or invent something new.
  • And so, in order to impress the un-churched, lie number eight: The worship service must be a well-staged production.
  • Therefore, lie number nine: A church must use the technology of the entertainment world to impress the un-churched, to manipulate people's emotions, and to create the desired mood for the service.
  • And, lie number ten: If you do not accept lies number one through nine, your church's worship will be inferior, it will not impress the world, and so you will not accomplish the main goal of bringing the un-churched into your church.

The Idols of the "New Worship"

The conference I attended as an observer did not stop with training sessions indoctrinating thousands of pastors and church leaders with this kind of un-Biblical thinking. Conference organizers also took these pastors and church leaders out, by the busloads, to visit so-called churches that have implemented these ten lies of counterfeit worship.

Not only that, there was a massive trade show associated with this conference, occupying a huge area of the convention center. Nearly a hundred companies were exhibiting the products and services that they provide, in order to help churches implement this counterfeit doctrine of worship.

Some of the biggest names in technology were there - Sony, Philips, Epson, Panasonic, and Yamaha, just to name a few. These and other large corporations now have dedicated teams of sales people who are focusing on what they call the "worship market." The "worship market" is now a multi-billion dollar business.

What were they selling to the "worship market"? They were selling the same kinds of laser light systems that they sell to theme parks, nightclubs, and theatres. They were selling stage scenery and props. They were selling strobe lighting. They were selling image projection systems so that you can use big-screen visuals to help set the mood of the service - or change the mood at will. They were selling big moving globes - so your church can have one on the platform, just like Joel Osteen. These are the idols of the so-called "new worship." Thousands of pastors and church leaders attending the conference moved excitedly from one vendor's exhibit to another.

But none of these were the most popular product that was being exhibited. The most popular product in this big exhibit hall was - are you ready for this? - fog machines! Fog machines, so that you can generate fog in your church service - even different colors of fog, on the platform and throughout the congregation, throughout the building, to create the desired mood in a so-called worship service.

Those fog machines were a metaphor for the entire so-called worship conference. Thousands of pastors and church leaders, enthusiastically taking all of this in, talking excitedly about what they were going to do with these worldly devices when they got back to their churches, were in a thick fog of utter confusion about the true nature of Biblical worship.

As we shall see in our next articles, Biblical worship is an issue of sound doctrine, of pursuing holiness - not assimilating the world and its idols into the church. The thinking that must govern our worship has to do with things above, not things on earth.


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