Before reading this entry please take a few seconds to watch this video clip, make sure to turn the sound up.
These next five words, this next phrase elicits the same "fingernail on a chalkboard" response from me every time I hear it. Are you ready? Here it is.
Helpful Inspiration of Social Worship--insert chalkboard sound at high volume
These five words come from the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene and can be found in our Membership Covenant. These five words make up the bulk of our theology of worship. When bringing people into the church, when inviting them to speak covenanting words of membership, the best we can come up with, as to the the purpose and priority of worship is, for its Helpful Inspiration.
According to Webster's Online Dicitonary:
HELPFUL: ---------a: of service or assistance
INSPIRATION:----a: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation; b : the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions; c : the act of influencing or suggesting opinions
SOCIAL:---------- a: involving allies or confederates; 2a : marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates; b : sociable; c : of, relating to, or designed for sociability 3: of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society 4a : tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others b : living and breeding in more or less organized communities
WORSHIP:-----undefined by the Church of the Nazarene
It has always bothered me that we as a denomination have no theology of worship. It has always bothered me that in so many ways we are more like a para-church organization (I'll save that discussion for another day), but this statement, this statement says it all.
Helpful Inspiration of Social Worship
So what exactly are we communicating with this phrase? Are we saying that we think it's nice when we gather with other like minded people (that we would consider breeding with or letting our children breed with) for the sake of being moved, or encouraged, hopefully in the name of Jesus?
Are we saying that the traditional actions of worship (Apostles teaching, breaking of bread, fellowship, prayer, singing) are only essential in as much as they inspire us, move us?
Using this definition, what is the difference between corporate worship and a tea party rally? A pep-ralley? Or a Rock concert?
I know that we can't come up with a fully shaped theology of worship in a blog posting, but would it be possible to come up with a better way, an alternative way to communicate the importance of worship in the life of a believer, the life of the church, to our new members? Is there a way for me to read the membership covenant without the fingernail and chalkboard sound effects?
The Picture below was taken of the nativity scene created by artist Brian Christensen from Life on the Vine Church. It was posted by David Fitch on his blog www.reclaimingthemission.com. Fitch writes, "Don’t know if you can make it out but but all of the characters of the manger scene – Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Wise Men – are over to the right watching the television. On the left is the baby Jesus all by himself."
Could this be a more honest picture of what happens when we speak in terms of "Helpful Inspiration of Social Worship?"