Worship or Entertainment?

Dr Peter Masters

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Where will your church be five or ten years from now? – asks the author. With the adoption of contemporary music worship many have already changed beyond recognition. Yet more will do so.

Here are four essential principles which Jesus Christ laid down for worship, and by which every new idea must be judged.

Here also is a fascinating view of how they worshipped in Bible times, including their rules for the use of instruments, and the question is answered – What does the Bible teach about the content and order of a service of worship today?


Worship or Entertainment?

1    Is it Worship or Entertainment?
2    Three Broken Principles:
      I – Spiritual or Aesthetic Worship?
3    II – Rational or Ecstatic Worship?
4    III – Sacred or Profane Worship?
5    Let the Lord Define Worship
6    Brass, Strings and Percussion?
7    Services of Worship in the Bible
8    What Really Happened at Corinth?
9    Why Raise Hands?
10    Why Sing Hymns?
11    Seven Standards for Worthy Hymns
12    Reverence Begins in the Place of Worship
13    Forfeiting the Soul of Evangelicalism
Appendix: More on Biblical Musical Instruments


Our manner of worship is one of the most important issues confronting Bible churches today, and here is why.

Six highly-flawed styles of worship may be observed – ­often all mixed together. There is personal-pleasure worship, which puts the worshipper’s enjoyment in first place, rather than God’s desire. There is worldly-idiom worship, which borrows the current entertainment music of the world with its rhythms, instruments, actions and showbiz presentation, heedless of all the Bible’s warnings about loving the world. There is aesthetic worship, which imagines that orchestras, bands and instrumental solos are real expressions of worship, as if God is worshipped through these things, whereas Christ said – ‘God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.’ There is ecstatic worship, in which people work themselves into highly emotional and even semi-hypnotic states, whereas Scripture says that we must ­always pray and sing with the understanding. There is shallow worship, which reduces hymns to choruses conveying one or two elementary ideas, because solid spiritual themes are not wanted. There is informal worship, in which casual, jokey, trivia-injecting leaders turn churches into sitting rooms, so ­depriving the Lord of dignity, reverence, grandeur and glory.

 It is as though Bible-believing churches have caught six viruses at the same time. How can churches survive in the power of the Spirit if their highest ­occupation is sick? How can God’s people keep themselves unspotted from the world, if the world has taken over the worship? How can we call lost souls out of the world, if we are the same as the world? Worship is certainly among the most important topics of the hour.

In this book I would like to speak with great respect to fellow Christians, including pastors and church officers, who have adopted elements of contemporary worship. They have been persuaded that their reservations are merely a matter of taste and culture, and that they should introduce some of the new alongside the old, thus preserving the best of traditional worship. The problem with this is that the old and the new represent opposing concepts of worship, as these pages will show. The new breaks all the biblical principles recovered at the Reformation. Even the history of new worship rings alarm bells, and demonstrates the chasm between the old and the new.

> See also our Worship page

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