As we gather people on a Sunday morning whose heads are buzzing with all kinds of different things and together begin to focus our thoughts, where should we be pointing them?
Mark Driscoll is of the opinion that repentance should preceed worship, clearing the decks, because he says, “that’s where the gospel starts.” So Mars Hill services have preaching & communion before the main time of sung worship. The view is that people need to sort out stuff before they draw near to the Holy God, and often they have a lot of stuff. This can lead to dour worship times (though if your city is as legendary as Seattle for rain and coffee you may have more excuse). Once you’ve been down in the slough of despond it’s kind of hard to “get your praise on”.
I’m not arguing that there’s anything sacred about having the singing first & I’m all for mixing things up, but I think we should start by focussing on God first rather than our sin, whether that’s through a God saturated sermon or a time of singing.
In the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ (Matt. 6:9-13)
Jesus taught the disciples to pray (which is, after all, a non singing way of approaching God) starting with God – his person, his deeds, his agenda (vv.9-10) and their relationship with him (‘Our
Father’). Then he taught them to go onto their needs (v.11a) and only after that to pray in repentance (v.11b). Repentance is the last thing on the list apart from prayer for protection.
One might say that even the gospel doesn’t start with repentance – it starts with God. After all, most gospel presentations
mention God making man for relationship with him before moving on to the fall, lest someone should infer that God created us sinful.
may details man’s fall, but where that chapter starts “now the serpent…”
Gen 1 starts
“In the beginning God…”
Man doesn’t even exist yet, let alone his sin. Surely that should be our starting point in worship, with God in glorious close up and ourselves barely in the picture.
What do YOU think?