Read this article by Michael Horton: "Beyond Style Wars: Recovering the Substance of Worship" (if you are not Reformed, please look past Horton's Reformed side comments, and chew on the meaty content).

Several things he says resonate deep within my soul: his call to do away with the Contemporary and Traditional labels, to declare and re-enact a radically different story in Sunday worship, to preach as the voice of Jesus to the people, and to evangelize not only the unsaved but believers, especially in our Sunday worship. That last point is what I want to focus on here.

In my reading of Romans 1 over the past few days I am blown away at the discovery of something I had previously missed. Paul is writing to the church at Rome. In his salutation he mentions right off the bat that he is "a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God" (Rom. 1:1, italics mine, but I suppose that's obvious since I've never seen italics used in the Bible). The Greek word for "gospel" is euangelion, which means "good news." The ESV Study Bible note says that the meaning of "gospel" here "included not just a call to initial saving faith but Paul's entire message about Jesus Christ and how Christ's saving activity transforms all of life and all of history." A little further down in Romans we read,

I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (my italics ;-).

So we see here that Paul is not only called to preach the euangelion to non-believers , but "to you also who are in Rome," i.e., to the church in Rome - those who already have faith in Christ. Part of what Jesus is telling us here is that we as justified Christians need to continually receive the gospel from the beginning of our faith life to the end. We are being saved. It's what theologians call progressive sanctification, and it's the work of the "Spirit of holiness" bringing us to the "obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:4-5). Only the euangelion can do this.

We get our English word "evangelism" from the transliteration of the Greek word euangelion. Now, I don't know when or where it happened in my life that the word "evangelism" became so intimidating to me. Maybe I failed in my evangelistic efforts one too many times. Maybe I have never known and believed in the real power of the gospel. Certainly it is fear, shame, and being generally not attuned to the voice of the Spirit that underlies the fact that I don't preach the gospel to non-believers. Nonetheless, our holy obligation to "gospelize" the unsaved remains. But I think that an extension of Paul's message here in Romans is that there is more to evangelism than our important outreach efforts. God wants us also to inreach to our own baptized communities with the gospel - he wants us to gospelize believers. Perhaps if we really took this seriously, our gospelizing of non-believers would come more naturally and with great boldness and power.

What does this mean for us in terms of our Sunday worship? This is where the article is extremely helpful, if for no other reason than to get us thinking deeply about our mission for Sunday morning celebrations. Read it. It has certainly sparked some intense conversations among our pastoral staff. In it you will find further justification for narrative preaching, weekly communion, and deeper fellowship, as well as a movement away from felt-needs preaching, market-driven methods, individualism, and style wars. Horton says of his church,

Absent from our services are market-driven entertainment elements. We also avoid moralistic, political, therapeutic, and consumer-oriented preaching. Instead, we focus on God himself telling his story of redemption through the lips of the minister. We are evangelistic because we are convinced that this kind of worship is where the heart of evangelism lies.

I would submit that the ultimate mission of Sunday worship is to gospelize believers. The gospel alone is God's glory. Non-believers will look upon our worship and believe. And we cannot possibly co-mission with God apart from being continually gospelized (evangelized, euangelionized, good news'd) ourselves.

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