What does a renewed church look like? In September we considered that a renewed church is a worshipping church, remembering that the early Christians ‘continued to meet together every day in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God …’ (Acts 2).
A renewed church worships together. We see from this verse that for the early church worship was both formal and informal. They continued to attend services in the temple; they didn’t just abandon the institutional church. However, they supplemented this temple worship with informal, spontaneous meetings in their homes.
There is clearly a lesson here – it isn’t a question of choosing between formal or informal worship – we can have both and, more importantly, the church needs both. Formality has its place. The beauty and the dignity of liturgy and of the hymns of the past call us to worship our almighty and wondrous God. They inspire what the Bible calls ‘fear’ – and we know as awe and wonder. Worship can and should be both reverent and joyful. In worship we are literally telling God what he is worth, acknowledging his dignity, glory, distinction, honour and renown.
This joy clearly led to an overwhelming desire to worship in other ways and places too. So they met together in each other’s homes; they shared the Lord’s Supper; they also ate together in fellowship, they praised God together. They didn’t rely on the temple priest to tell them how to worship – clearly their worship leader was the Holy Spirit.
The early church worshipped in joy and reverence together, formally and informally. The first Christians understood that worship matters. VT