By Brian Sandifer: How can we foster a culture of theological depth in our churches? It must begin with the faithful exposition of God’s Word. If our people aren’t regularly being fed from the Word of God, then there’s little hope for theological depth. But God has given us others tools to facilitate our growth when we gather on Sunday mornings. One tool in particular stands out: singing. Little else brings together the heart, the soul, and the mind in one event. All this raises a question: what kinds of songs best foster a culture of theological depth? To answer this question, we don’t need to look any farther than the Psalter, God’s hymnbook. CONSIDER GOD’S HYMNBOOK The collection of 150 psalms which we call the Psalter is widely recognized to be the hymnal for the ancient people of God. Some present-day denominations still use it at their exclusive hymnal. I can understand why: it’s teeming with a variety of subjects and
Bob Kauflin: Only God could have ordained that I would be writing an article on the benefits of corporate worship during the COVID-19 pandemic. My church in Louisville hasn’t met since March 15, and we’re still trying to decide what the process of meeting together again will look like. Livestreaming Sunday mornings is beginning to feel almost normal. Almost. Although I’m thankful for the virtual contact technology has made possible during this season, God has unique purposes for the weekly gathering that no livestream or Zoom meeting can replace. Perhaps we feel similar to the apostle John when he wrote, “Though I have much to write to you [or many virtual meetings to participate in], . . . I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12). Not being able to meet in person makes us appreciate more deeply the privilege, joy, and benefit of gathering with the
J. Garrett Kell: When my church gathers, it appears we have little in common. Our skin colors vary. Our political tastes differ. Cultural backgrounds have ingrained us with diverse identities. We have distinct preferences and convictions. Yet, we have two realities that bind us together. The first is our love for the Lord Jesus. Though each salvation story is unique, we bear the marks of his divine love. He died for us, rose for us, called us, converted us, and continues to hold us fast by his grace. We love him for this, and so we gather to worship him. Secondly, we all suffer. I have my own scars, as do the rest of these heavenly pilgrims. While I preach, I see their faces tell a story. Or when they sing, sometimes I hear and sense the hurts and pain of God’s people. Why Gather? As a pastor, I have the privilege of walking with many through their pain. Miscarriages.
By Justin Borger: Bible reading has become a largely private practice—something we do in our own personal “quiet time.” A few verses, or perhaps as much as a chapter, are often read before the sermon on Sunday morning. But when was the last time you heard multiple chapters or, better yet, a whole book of the Bible publicly read aloud from beginning to end? This has become a relatively rare experience in the church. However, the public reading of Scripture is one of the most ancient, time-honored practices of God’s people that is recorded in Scripture. It is a practice that is repeatedly described and commended at crucial moments in redemptive history, from the very beginning to the very end of the Bible. In fact, it is something that God’s people are specifically commanded to do with devotion. As Paul told Timothy, his young pastoral protégé, “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Tim. 4:13, emphasis added). PUBLIC SCRIPTURE READING IN
Tom Olson: Have you ever wondered why God desires for his people to sing? What role should singing play in the life of a Christian? What is it about worshiping through song that is so important to God? You may not know it, but God has already answered these questions in the Bible. Seven Biblical Reasons Why Singing Matters The seven reasons below answer these questions and unpack more important truth about singing in the life of an individual Christian and the church. 1. When you sing, you obey. Singing isn’t an option in Scripture. It’s a command: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
David Mathis: Worshipping Jesus together may be the single most important thing we do. It plays an indispensable role in rekindling our spiritual fire, and keeping it burning. Corporate worship brings together God’s word, prayer, and fellowship, and so makes for the greatest means of God’s ongoing grace in the Christian life. But thinking of worship as a means can be dangerous. True worship is fundamentally an experience of the heart, and not a means to anything else. So it’s important to distinguish between what benefits might motivate us to be regular in corporate worship, and what focus our minds and hearts should pursue in the moment. According to Don Whitney, “There’s an element of worship and Christianity that cannot be experienced in private worship or by watching worship. There are some graces and blessings that God gives only in the ‘meeting together’ with other believers” (Spiritual Disciplines, 92). Surely, many more could be given, but here are five
How should we arrive at our church gathering [Sunday by Sunday]? Starved for God, John Piper says in this 2-minute clip from his most recent sermon on Christian Hedonism: This excerpt was taken from the recent sermon, “God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him.” (HT: Tony Reinke)