New Post at DG – Serving Appetizers: Worship Services That Keep Their Promises

Here’s some of my most recent thinking about worship services, helpfully captured in my post for DesiringGod.  First, the teaser:

Many young people leave the faith because of disappointment with their local church; they have unmet expectations. And the saddest part is this: often the church is the one creating the very expectations that it cannot meet. We seem to be teaching our people to expect too much — at least in this current age.

Read the (600 word) rest: Serving Appetizers: Worship Services That Keep Their Promises

[EDITED: This blog is also posted at Doxology & Theology: here.]


3 thoughts on “New Post at DG – Serving Appetizers: Worship Services That Keep Their Promises

  1. Came across your post on Desiring God.

    One of the reasons why I left the church was due to lack of fellowship and accountability/counselling. It really isn’t to do with the worship music or how contemporary the church is. I wanted to find good fellowship and support. Of course no church is perfect, and many can go through a rough patch, I have seen the pastor of a church, go through many battles and have seen the church go through a lot of difficult times. I am glad to know that God continues to work through churches no matter whatever situation it may be in.

    Currently in my early twenties, I had one year out abroad to work, and then returned to university. Settling back into that church again, that I attended for 3 years was very difficult. I felt like no one actually bothered to ask me how I was with God or even how my year out actually went. As much as I wanted to support others, I wasn’t “spiritually well” and felt like I needed some help in prayer or encouragement. Only to return finding no one really caring about me. I also had people telling me that if there is something wrong with the church, then surely the last thing to do is to leave the church but to pray for the church and make change. I was just too weak at the time.

    Having left the church, I would say the my current difficulty is taking the courage to join a new church/return to the church. I do have my anxiety mental health issues that are apparently very common in a lot of early twenties young people, especially ones who are still in education. I don’t encourage skipping church on Sundays. I encourage going to church, but I myself struggle to go back. My mind is always wanting to find a small fellowship that simply worships God, breaks bread, prayer and genuine support and love for one another, and of course a fellowship that genuinely wants to seek God together and live for Him.

    Again, no church is perfect, no one is perfect… but fellowship is very important for all ages, and accountable people. Often those my age leave because of overwhelming struggles in their own personal life, and lack of counselling and accountability. Not just my age, but all ages-teenagers, adults, elderly. And when no one from the church follows up on the person who left, the person is unlikely to return.

    Well, I need to take the courage to attend a church again and serve God in ministry too. I would say that being on my own has been very difficult and dark, but I have experienced God so much more deeply, in realising how much more I need Him and of His unconditional love for me.

    1. Thanks for the comment, TMW. Your story sounds eerily familiar to many people with whom I’ve spoken. Although counseling someone is next to impossible in a blog comment, I would offer you some encouragement. (But be sure to work things like this through with a face-to-face believer who knows you and the specifics of your situation.)

      First, the bad news: No church can deliver struggle-free (or “manageable struggle”) lives, perfect fellowship, consistently wise counsel, and accountability to all ages. Some may promise it, but they can’t deliver. That’s one of the points of the blog post.

      Second, the good news: Almost all Christians feel like you do. Seriously. Yes, even pastors. Yes, even famous Christians in church history. The “anxiety mental health issues” that you describe are common, not just among 20-somethings, but among everybody. And they always have been (check out the letters of John Newton to people like William Cowper for some reassurance). So, repeat after me, “this won’t get completely solved in this life.” Half our struggle, Newton would say, is that we expect less struggle.

      So, the only things we have are the word of God and the Spirit of God. The Lord is disabusing us from fooling ourselves when we believe we have anything else. Your comment concluded, “I would say that being on my own has been very difficult and dark, but I have experienced God so much more deeply, in realizing how much more I need Him and of His unconditional love for me.”

      Let me encourage you, TMW, that realization is not a small thing. It is a profound truth that is only revealed by the deep work of the Holy Spirit within a person. Be encouraged! Recognize that God’s spirit is working in you! I pray that this recognition will become your increasing experience in your fight for faith. And whatever church you attend will be blessed to have you.

      You are in my prayers.

      1. Thank you for your encouraging words, prayers and time to read my comment. It’s greatly appreciated.

        ‘My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.’
        Psalm 119:50

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