The Marshes had just moved to town and were exploring ideas for church attendance. The church they thought they liked best was an hour and a half drive away and overlooked a small valley of evergreen trees. It was small but beautiful, and the people seemed friendly.
The closest church was a bigger and older building, but neither Al nor Susan felt comfortable there.
“Too much show-off,” Susan said. “Too many distracting slides on the screen.”
“I agree,” Al said. “And too much performance style for the music.”
“Still,” said Susan, “it’s good music, isn’t it?”
A third option was about almost a thirty-minute drive away, a fairly new building and architecturally current. It was a big church with a huge parking lot, a large foyer for people to meet, and a good-sized church school next to it. Music was good, and the sermon was, too, the time they attended.
The Marshes put that one on the top of the list.
“Have we settled it, then?” Al asked.
“I don’t think so,” Susan said. “Something is missing. Look at how we’re evaluating these churches. We’re just looking at things that are important to us.”
“And we shouldn’t be?”
“Well, yes, but only if the things that are really important are the same ones that are important to us.”
There was a long pause. Then Al said, “Then let’s go to the closest church. At least we’ll save on gas.”
Discussion Questions for Conformity, Compromise and Crisis in Worship
1. Key thought. Unlike our religious ancestors, the Jews, today we Seventh-day Adventists don’t have temples loaded with symbolism. Some of our churches are plain and bare. If you’ve traveled extensively in Africa and other under-developed countries you’ve probably seen churches made from tree branches as well as those that meet in the open. What binds all of the hundreds of thousands of Adventist churches together? How can we join the fellowship of such a diverse group of people? Do you consider the racial, cultural, linguistic, and academic differences among us to be an asset or a detriment to our mission? Why? or Why not?
2. If I don’t like it, it’s bad. Have you ever watched a TV channel dedicated to nature or animals and seen nothing but conflict and blood? Have you ever been bitterly disappointed when the heart of a Christian friend or acquaintance leads to the committing of terrible crimes? What is evil? How can you tell? Does God want us to know what evil is so that we can avoid it? Do you think that the contemporary Adventist church gives in too much and too often to society’s pressures? If they do and if that is evil, shouldn’t people responsible for such actions be sent out of the church immediately? Why or why not?
4. Emotions can destroy worship. Why is it so easy to rely on our emotions rather than on our study of God’s Word? Have you ever made a major decision you regretted later because you based your decision too much on your emotions? Are you concerned about the state of emotions running rampant in your church today? Or are you concerned about a wooden, passive church that doesn’t seem to care about anything? What is your role in either circumstance?
5. Counterfeit. If the artist is so skilled that even experts can’t tell the work was copied, why should the artist go to jail for counterfeiting? Would you say that Satan has excellent counterfeiting skills? Does he ever go so far as to mimic God’s loving kindness and other characteristics of His nature? How would you have felt if you were part of the congregation when Jeroboam introduced counterfeit after counterfeit into the worship system for God’s people? Should we spend more time hunting down counterfeits in our church today? Or more time seeking the genuine and true Lord in our lives?
6. Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal. The lesson author compares the frantic and noisy gyrations of Baal’s followers with some modern worship services, marked by “a lot of emotion, a lot of hype, and a lot of noise.” Could that criticism be applied to any Adventist churches you know? Or is an example of worship forms you’ve never seen and hope you never will? Can a Christian be overly energetic about identifying evil in the church? What could be some unfavorable results? Is there more important work to be done? Explain your answer.
7. This will end. Is the final end of the world with the devil and all of his wickedness being destroyed good news for you? Do you ever wonder which side God will find you on in the last day? What can you do to be sure that the fear of being lost doesn’t overwhelm you? Or are you of the opposite opinion and believe that God is so loving He couldn’t possibly prevent anyone from entering His eternal kingdom? What is the danger of that way of looking at the final days? Can a person be certain of his or her salvation now? How? Or if not, why not?
Happy Sabbath to you!