“I am often disturbed or disappointed by what I experience when I go to church. At first glance the issues seem to be practical–poor preparation, inadequate content, inappropriate music, songs that people cannot sing very easily, uncertain leadership and superficial comments about what we are doing. Mostly, however, these practical failings seem to reveal a poor understanding of why we gather, little awareness of how to lead a gathering effectively, and an inadequate grasp of what we should expect from our time together.
Some church services proceed along well-worn paths, familiar to regular attenders but quite strange to newcomers. Little explanation is offered about what is taking place and why it is done. There may be meaningful prayers or a challenging sermon, but overall there is something missing in the experience. At the other end of the spectrum are visitor-friendly services that are more like a concert. Each item is introduced by a ‘master of ceremonies,’ but with no discernible flow or direction. There may be enthusiastic singing, but little else to transform the lives of the participants and equip them to serve God in everyday life.
There is little expectation in some contexts that we gather to encounter God and to be renewed in our relationship with him; church is viewed primarily as an occasion for fellowship and ministry to one another. In other contexts there is little sense of the horizontal dimension to the gathering of Christ’s people: church is simply viewed as an occasion for ‘worship,’ however that is conceived. Across this spectrum of views what we do often seems to be determined by what attracts people or makes them feel comfortable. It is easy to be driven by pragmatic, rather than biblical, concerns.” (David G. Peterson, Encountering God Together: Leading Worship Services That Honor God, Minister to His People, and Build His Church, pp. 11-12)