I've posted before on the theological implications of the Sunday morning worship liturgy. Maybe you think I'm splitting theological hairs. Why change what seems to be working in churches all across America?
I understand. It is hard to buck against the tide. Every church in town, and what seems like every church in America, follows the same pattern: "praise and worship" music, then sermon, then some kind of blessing and dismissal.
But when I show up on Sunday morning, I'm not really all that excited. I'm tired. I'm fleshly. I'm dull. I'm expectant of what the Lord will do, but the "praise and worship" part feels like more of an obstacle. Yes, I know there are some super-elite Christians out there who would tell me that I need to prepare more for worship. I need to go to bed earlier. I need to pray more the night before.
The problem is that even if I do all of those things, it doesn't change the fact that I show up to church with my old Adam. Maybe part of the problem is that we don't get what the old Adam is. We think he is the part of us that wants to watch bad movies and listen to Lady Gaga and hang out at bars. He is (that was a joke about Lady Gaga). But the old Adam is also the religious fraud in us, the perpetual spiritual climber, the part of us who longs for a spiritual todo list, who still wants to believe that he can do it, he can become more moral, more spiritual, and more close to God if he just applies himself. That is the part of me that screws everything up. That is the part of me that needs to die.
And that is the part of me that does die whenever I hear the word of the cross, the word about Jesus. What does the Bible say? "Faith comes by hearing..." ...hearing the word about Jesus. Worship comes through faith, and faith comes by hearing. Faith is when the old Adam is put in the grave by the Word, the Gospel, and the new man rises to life.
This is why we leave church with a heart that is full and joyful and inspired, after hearing about what Jesus has done for us. In other words, we leave church ready for worship. Then wouldn't it make sense to put the worship singing right there, after the Word?
Let's summarize it. Worship springs out of faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word of the Gospel. Ergo, the "praise and worship" should follow the preaching. Simple?