Probably the biggest issue for someone who is unaccustomed to “formal” worship is the question of insincerity. Many of us have been taught that if it is “scripted,” then it must be insincere. If our worship services have a “bulletin” with all the elements of the worship service laid out beforehand, then what has happened to the possibility of the Spirit leading us in the course of the service? If a service is hypocritical and insincere, then that is obviously not the Holy Spirit’s work—on that we certainly can agree.
But we don’t think this way about other activities that must be planned out beforehand. If you had the privilege of seeing a Marine Corps precision drill team, would you wonder if they “really meant it?” If you took your wife to see a performance of the Nutcracker at Christmas time, would you walk out shaking your heads at all the insincerity because the music was exactly the same as last year?
As far as the “scriptedness” is concerned, we would point to where the apostle Paul rejoiced in the “good order” of the Colossian church (Col. 2:5). The word there is a military one, which could be rendered as regimentation—like the drill team we mentioned just a moment ago. At the same time, we want to avoid the sins condemned by Jesus when He warned us about flowing robes (Mark 12:38), wide phylacteries (Matt. 23:5), lengthy prayers (Matt. 23:14), fancy religious titles (Matt. 23:7), and other forms of ecclesiastical showboating. But preparation to offer God what He requires is not the same thing as over-decorating what He did not require.
Posted in: Worship