Sunday, December 12, 2010

Worship by driving

So in the midst of the snowstorm that is hitting the Midwest, I saw this tweet from Russell Moore:

If you'll leave home in the snow to earn your paycheck, but not to worship your Christ, then at least you can see who your god is.

The implication being that unless you get up this morning, get dressed up, bundle your family up and leave your house, you aren't worshiping.

It implies that the only proper way to worship Jesus requires that you leave your home to go to an arbitrarily declared sacred space on a specially designated day to hear a holy man deliver a prepared talk for an hour before you head to Cracker Barrel for lunch.

That idea of showing your faithfulness by getting in a car to go somewhere is sweet sounding to our culturally conditioned ears but does it fit with Scripture?

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. (Rom 16:3-5, see also 1 Cor 16:19)

Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. (Col 4:15)

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:1-3)

So apparently Prisca and Aquila, Nympha and Philemon didn't leave their house to "worship" because the church gathered in their home for fellowship. Paul seems to praise this, not condemn them for lacking the fortitude to "go to church". Does that mean that you have to meet in your house or at least someone's house to properly worship? Not at all but it does mean that you can't label one gathering "Christ worship" and another "Mammon worship" based on the kind of building you meet in.

It is snowing pretty hard here in Michigan and the roads are pretty slick. I am not going to load my children into our huge van just so I can demonstrate my commitment to Christ. I should hope that no Christian feels obligated to drive in risky road conditions (or even perfect driving conditions) to some building so that they can prove how pious and dedicated to Jesus Christ they are. I will gather my family around me today and open the Word of God and pray with them. I am quite sure that Paul, Timothy and the other original Christians would recognize that as worship and have no idea what is going on amidst the theater and showmanship that passes for "worship" in the traditional church culture.


Alan Knox said...

If you think you have to leave your home in the snow in order to worship, then you don't understand what Scripture says about worship.


Eric said...

If this is what a respected seminary dean has to say, it's no wonder so many pastors have little biblical understanding of either worship or the church.

Alan Knox said...

And if you don't think that working to support yourself and your family and others is worship, then you don't understand what Scripture says about worship.


Arthur Sido said...


I love a lot of what Dr. Moore has to say but his assertion regarding gauging the faithfulness of a Christian on their willingness to go to a building is indefensible. You are exactly right, this is what is being taught in seminary and it is what infects the entire church because everything we know is taught from the pulpit.

Arthur Sido said...


Wait a second, are you saying that worship is not just something we do at church from 11:00-12:00? How can we worship without a worship leader to lead us?

Chad said...

I hate to say this, but it looks like you're having a wild ole time beating the tar out of a straw man. I think the tweet by Dr Moore is actually quite innocent. I think his point is that we can so easily give in to the temptation to take the easy route. If we look outside and say, "eh, it's cold and windy...better to let the kids sleep in while I play angry birds," then I think we're guilty of taking the wide, easy road. I don't think the destination is really the point. If, however, we wake to see bad weather, and instead of taking the easy route, we get the kids out of bed and we pick up the Word and we worship as a family, then we've done the hard thing, and we've honored God. I think his point is that Worship, wherever, whenever, and however, should be a priority. We overcome various obstacles to do our jobs, in order to earn a living...are we just as tenacious when it comes to overcoming obstacles to worship. (Squirmy little kids, for instance.)

All that said, I'm not familiar with Dr. Moore, and I don't know if he has a history of making disparaging remarks about house churches or family worship.

Arthur Sido said...


I think Dr. Moore is a great guy and has a lot of wise things to say, sometimes saying things that need to be said but that ruffle feathers! However, in this case I think he is demonstrating the mentality that comes from a lifetime in institutionalized Christianity. There is nothing especially praiseworthy or faithful about “going to church”, lots of Christians don’t go to a “church” to gather with other Christians and lots of unbelievers show up faithfully on Sunday morning to get a dose of religion. It is a cultural acceptable religious act but one that has little to do with Scriptural admonitions to forsake not the assembling of the saints and even less to do with Biblical exhortations to be in community and fellowship with other believers. As a seminary leader who has invested much of his adult life to the training of men to become vocational ministers, Dr. Moore is deeply tied to the cultural and institutionalized form of “church” and in that mindset, if you are not in a “church” on Sunday morning listening to a duly authorized man delivering a sermon, you are being unfaithful. I am trying to be careful to not impugn Dr. Moore’s motivations, I am sure he honestly believes in what he is doing at Southern but I do take umbrage at what I see as a slander against those who eschew institutionalized Christianity and what I would further describe as a misuse of Scripture. Applying the idea of the “you cannot serve two masters” to church attendance is an unwarranted leap. One can love Jesus Christ as Master and Lord and not “go to church” and one can “go to church”, teach Sunday school, even be employed as a clergyman and not have Jesus Christ as Lord. The overemphasis that Dr. Moore places on the traditional Sunday morning church service is the same overemphasis that Christian leaders have made for centuries to the detriment of the church.

Debbie said...

Chad, thanks for articulating what I couldn't.

Arthur, your last comment shows that you understand Moore's likely intent. You know that his assumption is that corporate worship is done in a church building. Given that assumption, it is clear that his likely meaning is along the lines of "If you put more effort into getting to work than into worshiping with other Christians,...."

BTW, he is also assuming that people leave home to work. Should the people who work from home feel slandered by his tweet?