What is interesting about his blog is that it confirms the problem without actually realizing it. A. W. Tozer acknowledged the worshiptainment problem in his day, when worship music - by many definitions - was being done right. Which means even though Mr. Livingstone makes valid points regarding the entertainment factor present in some churches, we are still beating around the bush and haven't actually yet flushed out the fox. In other words, if worship services were a problem in Tozer's day, then why do we draw the cross-hairs on worship services today?
It's a particularly telling sentinel that, when researching the problem further, we generally find the blame rests with the congregation: "they won't come unless
Where the rubber meets the Road
Most Christians - throughout history - have read the Bible and compared it with the facts around them. Unfortunately, they're conflicted when truth doesn't match facts. In such a situation, they have several options:
- Create a doctrine that explains why their experience (facts) don't match the truth observed in Scripture.
- Example: Cessation of the Spiritual Gifts.
In example, consider the story of Jonathan slaying the Philistines (1 Samuel 14). He believed the revelation of God, was inspired to act, and acted upon the revealed truth in spite of the apparent facts.
The facts of the situation were that Jonathan was tactically disadvantaged: there was only two of them, but unknown numbers of the enemy; the enemy was on top of a hill, they were in a valley; Jonathan had to crawl on his hands and knees, in full sight of the enemy, just to enter the battle. The truth of the situation was in stark contrast to the facts of the situation.
Creating New Doctrine to Match Facts instead of Truth
Scripture clearly teaches that God desires His will be performed on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-13). There are any number of conclusions and adjunct scriptural evidences that we could draw upon to examine various facts in conflict with this truth. Consider sickness, for example.
Most Christians will tell you that it's God's will for you to be sick - it's simply factual that people are sick, and you gotta die somehow, and God will somehow use it as a blessing. Nevertheless, truth says otherwise. First, the model prayer stands in direct conflict with the facts. Secondly, every time Jesus is recorded encountering sickness, He destroys it. Thirdly, Jesus perfectly represented and performed the will of God (here), and finally, if God desires us to be sick now, then there must be sickness in heaven.
But seeing that we can't have it that way, we create a new doctrine. We call the spiritual gifts 'Apostolic Gifts,' and then have them cease. I'll leave the rest of the quandary for you to sort out.
The Better Way
What's lovely about the outcomes referenced in Mr. Livingstone's blog is that it is presumable that the church actually went back to their prayer closet - so to speak - and changed their attitudes and position relative to God. In other words, they observed that the facts didn't match the truth and instead of casting blame or creating a doctrine, listened to Holy Spirit and understood that they themselves needed to make a change.
Their explanation of the success is that "people are hungry for the word of God." If by that one means preaching and teaching, then I'll respectfully disagree. But if by that one means they're hungry for a relationship with God, then we're on the same page.
God teaches us that a cognizant relationship with Him begins with a turning of the heart, not with the preaching of the word and understanding with the mind:
Which is completely opposite of what we hear today: preach the word so people can learn - move head knowledge into the heart.but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away (2 Cor. 3:16)
When a person or congregation returns or is revived, it's not by a will of the mind - it's a surrendering of the heart, from which the mind follows after the veil is removed.