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Rector’s Reading Group – ‘The Living Church’ #3

Thoughts on Stott’s The Living Church, Chapter 2

1. A bold statement at the beginning, that worship of God takes prioroty over evangelism. I would have thought evangelism is a form of worship!

2. His use of the term ‘worship’ here means what we do in church. This definition is baulked at by some, who see the Bible’s definition being much wider, including all we do in life. Yet, Stott concludes the chapter with this wider definition of worship, quoting Romans 12. 

3. Church worship should be Biblical, “a response to Biblical revelation” p.36. Hence reading and preaching of God’s word are “indespensible aspects of it”. p.37. Also “The spirit of receptivity is a necessary condition for hearing God’s word”. This is a good prayer – to pray the hearers of God’s word will have a receptive spirit.

4. A good reminder to have our Bible readings read in a way that is senstive to the mood of what is written! A good example from Psalm 95 on p.38.

5. Church worship should be congregational, that is, include congregational participation. He argues against churches based upon the Homogenous Unit Principle (HUP: the idea that churches be made reflecting one culture). 

6. Church worship should be spiritual, ie not pinned down and defined by forms, rituals and ceremonies. Let’s not honour with our lips, while our hearts are far from God.

7. As a fix for cold and tepid worship he suggests: (a) faithful reading and preaching of God’s word; (b) a reverant and expectant administration of the Lord’s Supper; and (c) a sincere offering of praise and prayer. In my expereince (c) is a very effective avenue to engage the heart, provided it’s done well. With regard to (a), faithful preaching probably isnt the whole picture, it’s also how the sermon is delivered that can either help or hinder people’s receptivity. It’s interesting to imagine how the Lord’s Supper might make the sunday experience come alive. I feel what Stott leaves unsaid here is something about how these elements of worship become more effective and engaging when they are done really well. There are human factors which go beyond just having the elements in place. Of course God is the one who is ultimately at work in people hearts, but he uses skilled people.

8. Church worship should be moral. Some good reminders from the Bible that are easily looked over: “to obey is better than sacrifice” 1 Sam 15:22. “Worship without holiness was hateful to him” p.47.

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