Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Hauerwas on Worship and Evangelism
I came across an excellent article by Stanley Hauerwas on the interesting position that has emerged within 'evangelical' churches that assumes there is a difference in worship and evangelism. Basing his assumption in the methods and practices currently used by a large portion of the Church, Hauerwas commented,
'Currently some Methodists are even suggesting, in the interest of church growth (which has become synonymous in some circles with evangelism), that worship must be made more "user-friendly". They thus assume a tension exists between worship and evangelism.'
Upon reflection, Hauerwas concluded that the 'tension' that seems to exist between worship and evangelism is actually a misrepresentation of true worship.
Possibly resulting from the infamous 19th century holiness movement/tent revival movement, Hauerwas noted that for whatever reason, evangelism has become something that was to be done OUTSIDE the church (outside regular Sunday morning worship), think Billy Graham crusade. Unfortunately, the recent reaction to this has been to bring the 'evangelistic' tools used in tent revivals INTO the church, think Willow Creek/seeker-sensitive services/worship.
Hauerwas lamented that the most devastating result of bringing the 'tent' inside the church has been the emergence of forms of worship that do not reflect true Christianity. More to the point, the Eucharist has suffered most. He said,
'The Eucharist is usually not considered an essential aspect of Christian worship by those concerned with church growth. Evangelism means getting people to church, because unless we go to church, it is assumed, our lives are without moral compass. Thus the assumption that lack of attendance at church and our society's "moral decay" go hand in hand. What such people fail to see is that such decay begins with the assumption that worship is about "my" finding meaning for my life rather than glorification of God. Such evangelism is but another name for narcissism. Christian worship requires that our bodies submit to a training otherwise unavailable so that we can become capable of discerning those who use the name of Jesus to tempt us to worship foreign gods. Without the Eucharist we lose the resource to discover how these gods rule our lives.'
Can we relate to this sentiment?
Is there a tension between worship and evangelism?
How can we be evangelistic and remain truthful/faithful worshippers?