The Adoration Impulse
As we wrapped our “Disorganized Religion” summer tour of Acts, taking a closer look at worship seemed like a natural next step. While some religions emphasize ethical living and others concentrate on spiritual disciplines, Christianity’s most defining feature is its worship-centricity. When people discuss their Christian faith, they almost always begin with worship, whether they’re talking in the past, present, or even future tense.
I grew up going to church.
We attend church pretty regularly.
One of these days I’m going to get to church.
The worship experience is central to the life of most Christians, regardless what creed they follow or tradition they come out of. The weekly trek to service is still a family ritual in many homes. And for a lot of people, the best part of their week happens during those 90 minutes on Sunday mornings. All the other stuff somehow feeds back into the weekly worship time. No, worship isn’t all we do; but it may be what we do best. (We certainly seem to put a whole lot time and effort into it.)
I wonder how early Christians would respond to that. We forget Jesus founded a social movement, not a religious one. The first believers had a religion (Judaism) and a worship space (the Temple). It took a while for an identifiably “Christian” worship style to emerge, and the first gatherings weren’t recognizable to outsiders as any kind of religious rites at all.
The first Christian worship experiences happened at table. Attendees said a prayer or two, sang a couple of songs, listened to storyteller, and shared their dinner with one another. These gatherings happened in people’s homes, which limited their attendance to a handful of folks.
But things we now associate with worship—recitations and readings, trained musicians and hymn repertoires, carefully constructed sermons and prayers, etc.—took a long time to work their way into the Christian worship vernacular. (There wasn’t even a “Gospel” for the preacher to read from, because Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John weren’t yet written!)
Yet what we retain from those early years is timeless: the adoration impulse is imbedded in the Christian DNA, marked by a longing to be with other believers, to tell our stories, give our Maker worthy praise and offer up thanksgiving divine for goodness, even as we pray for mercy and guidance. We worship because something compels us to join in song and word and gesture in reverent joy before our God.
That’s a great thing—a life-changing thing. And that’s why we’re spending September looking at worship and some of the stories behind favorite hymns and customs. Our worship has changed dramatically over the centuries. But our love of it is as strong as ever! – Pastor Tim
Join us every Thursday in September for our worship study series: “Words and Music.” We meet at 7:30 CT at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake Street, Oak Park. Or you can join us virtually via FB Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.