I am focusing my attention on our church blog for the time being so this blog will no longer be updated. When (or if) I resurrect my personal blog, it will most likely be hosted elsewhere. My apologies to my subscribers and readers for the deadness of this blog, but I hope you will subscribe to the Crosstown Church blog here.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Here it is, finally. The last post from my reading of The Deliberate Church.
I do not doubt that some who read this book (or my posts on it) will be frustrated with all the deliberateness the authors describe regarding the church. Some will surely say that there is too much nit-picking here, that no wonder the church is so ineffective today when some pay so much attention to the smallest of details. But in the conclusion to the book, the authors explain why they take aim at such minutiae. The goal, they say, is a healthy church, and a healthy church is one in which the corporate gaze is Godward. The problem is that "the recent trend in pastoral ministry has been to come up with increasingly clever and innovative models or metaphors for ministry that still retain some semblance of faithfulness to God's Word" (p. 196). Here is where the authors will face their opposition. Are our churches simply striving to be creative in their gospel proclamation, or have we simply missed the setting forth of the truth plainly? The authors of The Deliberate Church would say it is the latter.
The conclusion of this book is not really a summary of what has been argued in the previous chapters. Rather, it adds new information, stressing the importance that as a healthy church sets its gaze upon God, it cannot help but also be looking outward. In other words, the church's ministry cannot be concerned with self-absorption, but must constantly be looking outward to other individuals, other churches, and even other countries. I appreciate these closing comments that remind us all that a healthy church is one whose existence is to the benefit of others.
We need to be teaching people that a biblical church is about much more than simply meeting our felt needs for purpose, significance, fellowship, and mutual understanding. It is about the glory of God in the Gospel of Christ. We need to be weaning members off the expectation of being served or even entertained, and training them rather to expect to become a contributing part of a global and even cosmic corporate cause to glorify God among the nations and in the heavenly halls of power. (p. 201)
Now to finish off this project of blogging through an entire book, here are my closing observations.
- The author's attempts to apply the regulative principle (chapter 7) seem a bit too rigid and I remain unconvinced that the regulative principle is superior to (or more biblical than) the normative principle.
- I think the author tries to find a purpose for the traditional gatherings of the church (Sunday school, Morning service, Evening service, Wednesday evening service, and Members' meetings), making it seem like the only way these purposes can be achieved is through the traditional set of corporate church gatherings.
- I love the deliberateness! O how I wish more churches were much more careful with how the gospel is being communicated rather than with how they can grow numerically or handle logistics more efficiently.
- The second half of the book is much better than the first half of the book. There are four basic sections: Gathering the church, When the church gathers, Gathering elders, and When the elders gather. The first two sections are good (aside from some of the insistence on the regulative principle); the last two sections are great. Yes, half the book is focused on elders, which appropriately demonstrates the necessity for getting that part of the church right. I think the single most effective way to improve the gospel-centeredness of our churches is to gather gospel-centered elders who know how to lead the church.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Section 3 of The Deliberate Church dealt with the process of gathering elders. In Section 4, the final section of the book, the authors talk about what the elders do when they meet. How should pastors handle the spiritual business of the church?
The first thing discussed here is the importance of unifying the elders around God’s Word and prayer. This is the “stating the obvious” part that unfortunately is not all that obvious in many church leadership meetings. Perhaps we begin our meetings with the obligatory petition for God’s guidance. Or, we may even spend a bit longer in prayer, interceding for one another or for the more obvious issues in the church. But I think it is a good thing to ask ourselves if we really value the place the Word and prayer have in our pastoral leadership.
Here’s how the authors do it at their church. Elders’ meetings begin by reading the Bible. This is “not mindless or unreflective reading, but thoughtful reading that is looking for reasons in the text to praise and thank God” (p. 174). The elders each then offer a brief prayer of praise. Next the elders join in prayer, first for each other, then for individual church members (using the membership directory), and then finally for the corporate body (praying for health and not just size). A good, practical suggestion for how to do pray for the church at large is to memorize the prayers that Paul prayed for the churches (e.g. Eph 1:15-23; 3:16-19; Phil 1:9-11; Col 1:9-14; 1 Thess 3:11-13; 2 Thess 1:11-12).
Another aspect of uniting the elders around the Word, though not specifically related to the actual meeting of the elders, is the importance of the elders studying the Word together. For example,
Periodically an issue will arise in the congregation that requires some biblical study on the part of the elders. Don’t waste these opportunities! These can be some of the richest and most rewarding times in the life of an elder body. (p. 174).
If we are concerned that our congregations aren’t interested enough in theology, perhaps we should see if the elders are leading the congregation to be so. By studying relevant biblical issues and then presenting them to the church as an elder council, the elders are able to model what it means to shepherd the congregation in a biblically responsible way.
Only after the elders have united around the Word and in prayer are they ready to move on to other areas. The authors say that spending quality time in the Word and in prayer takes them almost two hours! Again the elders must ask themselves if they are truly “devoted” to the ministry of the Word and prayer (see Acts 6:4). But moving on (chap 20), church’s that have staff elders as well as non-staff elders will need to work hard to reduce the disparity of knowledge that exists between them. One thing that can be done is prepare the agenda and relevant reports at least a week ahead of the elder meeting and distribute it to all the elders. The goal is to get all elders up to speed in advance of the meeting.
So what should the elders talk about? The authors offer three “categories for conversation” to help steer the discussion. First is member care. This includes updates on who is joining the church and who is leaving the church. But much attention focuses on the “care list.”
The care list is simply an informal list of people whom the elders have recognized as needing special attention for a variety of reasons. Periodically a person is put on the care list because of a particularly extreme kind of trial. More often, though, the care list is used to keep track of those people whom the elders have noticed as being delinquent in attendance over the course of a few months or as being involved in scandalous sin that will require church discipline if not repented of quickly. p. 181.
In larger churches the elders need to go over the membership directory systematically so that no one falls through the cracks. This kind of work is part of the spiritual oversight required of elders (Heb 13:17) and is the best way to practice church discipline. It is also a reason why plural elders is so necessary; no one pastor could possibly do this kind of intentional oversight on his own.
The second category of conversation in the elders’ meeting deals with the administration of the church. While this may be “deacon work” primarily, the elders need to know the overall status of things like finances and facilities.
The third category is ministry and missions where the elders consider things like missionary applications, short term mission plans, proposals for new church ministries, benevolence, constitutional revisions, and church planting. “This is where the elders work to ensure that the spiritual vision of the church is realized,” the authors tell us, “and that the spiritual direction of the church is maintained” (p. 183).
After all is said and done in the elders’ meeting, it will be important to assign certain elders with the task of communicating with the deacons and staff about decisions that have been made.
Chapter 20 concludes with a brief discussion on the annual budget process, and also with a word about modeling good leadership meetings by inviting others (e.g. pastoral assistants and interns) to attend the elders meetings to quietly observe the process.
The final chapter of this book deals with how decisions are to be made in the elders’ meetings. As the authors explain, “The most heated and divisive moments in a church’s life often come at critical decision making moments” (p. 189). So it is very important that we have an approach to handling decisions, though no approach can prevent every possible conflict.
First of all, it is helpful to emphasize that the senior pastor does not need to chair every elders’ meeting, or members’ meeting for that matter. By sharing the leadership of the meetings, the senior pastor can communicate that he is not power-hungry and that he does not view the pastorate as a CEO position. “Pastoral authority is like soap—the more you use it, the less you have left” (p. 190). Pastors then should lead with the Word, “not simply with the strength of your personality or opinions” (p. 190). They should model good character in speaking graciously and must be patient rather than insisting on having things done their way.
Still, we need a good way to observe order in handling matters. The authors advise the elders to begin discussing a matter by having the issue addressed in a one-page, specifically written memo that all elders can review a week or two before the meeting. Then at the meeting the motion needs to be seconded. In a smaller elder body all elders can be asked for their thoughts. The chair determines the length of the discussion, so “each must be patient with the others, and each must know when to back down for the good of the group” (p. 193).
When the chair feels like the discussion has proceeded far enough, he may call for the vote. Unanimity does not need to be the requirement for action (except perhaps in the case of elder nomination); instead, voting gives all elders an opportunity to practice humility, especially when they do not get their way. They must treasure the unity of the body more than their own ideas, and they must learn to not take being voted down personally.
I find the authors to be at their best in this discussion about elders. It seems to me that this kind of deliberate pastoral oversight of the church is sorely lacking in the average church today. The authors have done us a service by giving us some good practical advice for how we might approach leading our churches in a more healthy way. In my opinion the greatest need we have, and the one we should always begin with, is a devotion of the church’s pastors (elders) to the Word and to prayer. Perhaps we have simply tried to govern our churches without depending upon God for way too long.
Monday, July 27, 2009
If churches are to be led by a plurality of elders (pastors), then what about other paid workers within the church? How should a church go about adding staff positions and personnel? This is the subject discussed in chapter 18 of The Deliberate Church, and I found the discussion to be rather insightful and thought-provoking.
This chapter is interesting because it challenges the idea of specialization, the commonest way of staffing in most churches. What is specialization?
One of the most popular ways of hiring and organizing church staff has been to divide the variegated lump of ministry responsibilities into specialized departments such as music, youth, adult education, community, evangelism, discipleship, and the like. It only makes sense, then, to look for a person who is particularly suited or gifted to lead in one of those areas. So we hire a minister of music or youth, a director of adult education, a pastor of evangelism and so on. (page 161.)
What's wrong with that? The authors point out four potential problems: professionalization, fragmentation, territoriality, and program drivenness. I cannot elaborate on those four areas now, but will comment on the first, professionalization. While it is true that the ideal is for people to serve in areas we are most gifted to do, too often we find giftedness (or a lack thereof) to be an excuse for non-service. Why should only "gifted" childcare workers fill children's ministry positions? Surely all parents are called to children's ministry, whether they feel gifted to do it or not! As the authors point out, the problem with specialization is that it creates a niche-marketed mentality where we assume the problem with our children's ministry is that we do not have enough gifted workers when the problem may really be we haven't trained the parents how to minister to their children.
So is there an alternative to specialization?
What we want to work toward is a staff model that contributes to the integration of ministries, the evangelical camaraderie of pastors, and the unity of church members. (page 165.)
The idea proposed by the authors is to no longer divide pastoral ministry into different departments, led by a departmental "specialist." As they say, "no more Music Department to be run by the Minister of Music; no more Youth Department or Evangelism Department or Adult Education Department" (p. 165). "Instead," they explain, "we want to view pastoral ministry (and, by extension, Christian maturity) as one integrated unit whose distinguishable parts grow together in proportion to the whole" (p. 166). This does not mean that there are not certain individuals who are given oversight over certain areas of ministry. It just means that these individuals are not to be limited by or even defined by those ministries. No more "ministers of" any specific ministerial area.
Here's how it works at the authors' church. "Instead of hiring specialists, we've found it useful to hire pastoral staff who are willing to be generalists" (p. 166). They hire pastoral assistants, a full-time but temporary position who may or may not go into full-time pastoral ministry. The PA's assist the senior pastor and are often single, post-undergrad, pre-seminary guys who want to test their giftedness in the context of the local church. So it is an "assistanship" as well as an apprenticeship, and it is designed to train young men to be generalists in ministry.
The church also hires assistant pastors whose distinction from the PA's is that they are brought in from within the congregation after being recognized as gifted for vocational ministry. They assist the senior pastor as well as the associate pastor(s) and are often given general oversight over various ministries, though again their job description is not limited to these things. Again the goal is to get them to be well-rounded in ministry.
Third, the church also hires associate pastors who actually may look just like the senior pastor in giftedness and call but who are willing to submit to the senior pastor's authority while serving in similar yet complementary ways. The idea with associate pastors is to have other people on the boat who can steer the ship in the absence of the senior pastor.
So how does it all work between the staff, elders, and deacons? The authors explain with this analogy: "The elders decide on teh destination. The staff drive the bus. The deacons make sure we've got enough gas to get there" (p. 169). In other words, the church is "elder-led, but staff-executed" (p. 168), though of course, some staff will also serve as elders.
These ideas on staffing the church are quite distinct from the typical church's setup. Whether one adopts all of the ideas or not, I think the authors have made a great point about the need for the pastoral ministry to not only be shared by having a plurality of elders, but shared also by having the pastors be generalists. Yes it is wonderful when we can serve the church by executing the gifts we have been entrusted with. But a lack of giftedness should never be an excuse to neglect important aspects of ministry, and it is the responsibility of the pastors to be sure that essential ministry is being done within the church.
I also think the idea of hiring pastoral assistants is noteworthy. It seems like the church often falls short in giving men the opportunity to test their giftedness and call to pastoral ministry within the context of the church. Here is a way to get staff responsibilities done while at the same time giving young men an opportunity to see if vocational ministry is truly what the Lord is calling them to do.
In this post, I will review chapters 13-17 of The Deliberate Church. Those chapters, together with chapter 18 (which I will review in my next post) comprise the book's third section entitled "Gathering Elders."
Why a whole section on elders? Actually, the 2nd half of the book focuses on this issue, as the fourth section is entitled "When the Elders Gather." In other words, the subject of elders is obviously an important subject for the authors of this book. For though they admit that the biblical evidence on church structure is scant, it nevertheless is consistent that
New Testament churches are to be congregationally governed yet led by a plurality of elders who are released by servant deacons to devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and prayer. (page 131)
In chapter 13 the authors offer the biblical evidence for plural elder leadership in the church and also give six advantages of a plurality leadership in our congregations. My favorite observation here is the fact that plural leadership "indigenizes leadership." In other words, with a set of elders/pastors leading the church, the work of the church can continue in the absence of the paid pastor. Practically speaking this means that the non-staff elders need to outnumber the staff elders. But the point is that the church is led by people who are invested in that congregation and not by the hired professional whose stay is (on average) only 3-5 years.
Now how should a church go about securing elders? We might assume that the process would involve looking for men we think have the potential for eldership, training them for that role, and then installing them to the office. But in chapter 14 the authors contend that we should recognize elders before we train them for the office. In other words, it is wise for the church to acknowledge those men that are already exemplifying the character of an elder and doing the work of an elder even without holding the official title. Men such as this "do not view the office as something to train for and execute, but as a wise and godly way to live regardless of their official capacity" (p. 138).
Also in chapter 14 the authors give us the definition of an elder:
An elder is simply a man of exemplary, Christlike character who is able to lead God's people by teaching them God's Word in a way that profits them spiritually. (p. 140)
Given that definition, we should look for those who meet the qualifications in four main areas: 1) core theology, 2) doctrinal distinctives of the local congregation, 3) love for the congregation, 4) cultural distinctives of the local congregation.
Then, in chapter 15, the authors elaborate on guidelines for assessing potential elders. Here we find a critical observation. Because "churches rarely grow past the maturity of their leaders" (p. 143), we must move slowly and deliberately in our search for qualified elders. We will want to assess their character, both by the explicit biblical requirements as well as by biblical wisdom implied by other texts. In other words, we should not limit our assessment of character to the list of qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. We will also want to assess their ability "to explain the Scriptures accurately to other people in ways that profit them spiritually." An elder "should be known by others in the congregation as a man to whom people can go in order to have the Scriptures explained to them" (p. 145). Third, we will want to assess their fit, that is, their gifting and passion as well as their communication style in relation to the other elders. It is extremely important that the elder body be unified (they need to get along!) for the sake of the unity of the congregation. This area of how a potential elder "fits" with the rest of the elder council would be an easy assessment to overlook, which could prove devastating to the efectiveness of the entire council.
If character is not the only area we assess in choosing elders, why is is that character is the major focus of the explicit biblical requirements for elders? The reason, the authors suggest in chapter 16, is because the elders must be examples of godliness. Furthermore, they will hear stuff in elder meetings and know stuff about people in the congregation that only godly men should hear and know. So while we must not insist on perfection in a man's character, it is important that we see a high standard exhibited there before we allow a man to serve his church officially as an elder. That is not too much to ask for those who are to be models for the church to emulate.
In chapter 17 we find a 5-stage plan for moving to plural elder leadership in the church. This information is most helpful if one's church needs to transition from single-pastor leadership to plural elders. Begin with biblical exposition. Show them that the desire to move to plural elders is based on the biblical evidence and not your opinions regarding church government alone. Then the church will have biblical eyes for step two, recognizing those who are most qualified to serve in this office. Third, potential elders should be nominated, by the existing elders (the senior pastor in a single-pastor model) and not by the congregation at large, who may not be spiritually mature enough to make such choices. The fourth step is to elect the new elders, which is merely congregational affirmation of the nominations. Finally, elders should be publicaly installed, perhaps even by reciting vows, a sample of which can be found on pages 158-159.
One last thought that I found worthy of note. The authors contend that non-staff elders should be term-limited to create a rotation of elders on the elder council. Why? Two main reasons. First, it provides the opportunity for more leaders to be developed, and second because it helps prevent territorialism from arising within the council.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Chapter 12 of The Deliberate Church is all about music. Not worship, just music. The chapter begins by pointing out that while it is common to equate worship with music, in reality music is only a subset of our corporate worship in the church. Still, its major place in most worship services necessitates an entire chapter in this book to talk about how we might be deliberate in our use of music in the church.
The authors contend that the two important factors to keep in mind with regard to music in the church worship service is that it ought to be corporate and it ought to be participatory. By "corporate" the authors mean that we should sing songs together to highlight the fact that we are not alone in our confession of Christ. Similarly when we sing songs together we are acknowledging the participatory nature of our musical worship. Not surprisingly, the authors shy away from encouraging solos and special music in the church and even suggest that a congregation's applause at the end of some performance pieces may indicate a shift in the focus of our attention away from God and on to the musician.
I appreciated the "three guidelines for congregational singing." First, singing corporately emphasizes the fact that our corporate worship is public, not privatized. While it is not wrong to have a personal experience in public worship, this is not the goal. Expressing the unity and harmony of the gathered congregation is more to the point, and I believe this concept is lost on the average American church goer. Second, songs should be theologically rich. More specifically, the authors contend that good worship songs have biblical accuracy, God-centeredness, theological and/or historical progressions, an absence of first-person singular pronouns, and music that complements the tone of the lyrics (p. 120). In order to ensure such a selection of worship songs, worship leaders really need to be theologically informed. Preferably, in my opinion, they need to be first and foremost pastors. Third, our music should be spiritually encouraging, something the authors contend will be the result if our songs are theologically rich.
Next in this chapter we find a discussion on musical accompaniment. The authors contend here that simple is best, offering their own example of using only a piano, guitar, and four vocalists lightly amplified (p. 122). While there are some really good things to say about this methodology (e.g. it is true that this is a more replicable model for deployment by smaller church plants), I find this suggestion to be offering a view that is too narrow for how we might be deliberate in our music. On the other hand I agree with and have recently benefited from worshiping with a music leader who is self-effacing and says fewer things during the worship service. I do wish all worship leaders would cut down on the flamboyancy and serve their people by actually leading them to worship in music.
More practical ideas follow in this chapter. There are good ideas for how to add variety to our musical selections. Surely it would be advantageous for us to deliberately teach new songs to our congregations. The chapter concludes with some ideas about how a young pastor can patiently transition a church into a more deliberate use of music in worship.
There is plenty in this chapter that is debatable. One might react to the suggestion that we not applaud in church or that we use only a piano and guitar in our instrumentation. But it is still worth listening to the authors' reasons for these suggestions. Hopefully all who do listen will attempt to think more deliberately about the use of music in our worship services.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Moving on (I know, I know...FINALLY!) to the next few chapters in The Deliberate Church. In chapter 8, Dever addresses the role of the pastor. The most fundamental role of the pastor, Dever says, is to preach the gospel clearly (p. 89). While that may seem to be a stating of the obvious, Dever does not have in mind solely the pulpit ministry of the pastor. Later he observes that "everything teaches," whether you intend it to or not (p. 90). This means that the pastor must be deliberate about ensuring that he is communicating the gospel clearly and accurately and that things are not being done within the church that are harmful to the clear articulation of the gospel. Echoing the belief of others like John MacArthur, Dever contends that since the pastor's main job is to preach the Word, the majority of his weekly time should be spent in preparing the sermon. I do wonder what might happen if more pastors had studies rather than offices.
In chapter 9 Dever describes how his church utilizes four different weekly gatherings of the church. The "Adult Education Hour" (aka Sunday School) is the main equipping time. The Sunday morning service is the main feeding time. The Sunday evening service is the main time. And the Wednesday evening (midweek) service is the main study time. Throw in there regular members' meetings (the main administrative time) and you've got a lot of meetings! I appreciate the clear purposes that Dever has identified for each of these gatherings, and if you are in a church that has these types of regular gatherings in place, then I would highly recommend you consider what Dever has to say in this chapter. But I'm not convinced that asking church members to show up to all of these meetings is the best way to do church. I think some of these purposes can be combined so that we do not need to gather the whole church together so often, and I do think that smaller groups of church members meeting together has great value. Nevertheless I wholeheartedly agree with the following comment regarding the importance of the "Adult Education Hour."
What's missing from many local churches . . . is an integrated system of teaching that begins to equip members in the areas of basic Christianity for starters, living the Christian life, Old and New Testament overviews, systematic theology, church history, and Christian growth. (pp. 97-98)Chapter 10 is entitled, "The Role of the Ordinances." I agree with the observation that the thing we evangelicals emphasize most about the ordinances is that they are not necessary for salvation (p. 105). So here as much as anywhere else we have great need for being deliberate. Dever's comments regarding how to deal with the baptism of children is very helpful for those holding a credobaptistic viewpoint. On the Lord's Supper I appreciated the suggestion of taking the bread individually but partaking of the cup together as a way to incorporate both our individual discipleship to Christ as well as the church's symbolic corporate unity in Christ (p. 107). In every church I've attended the emphasis seems to be entirely either on the individual or corporate aspects of our relationship to Christ in the Supper.
Chapter 11 is the culmination of the previous ten chapters. "The goal of gathering the church and ordering our weekly gatherings is to cultivate a culture that has evangelistic effects on our unbelieving friends" (p. 109). In other words, a church culture of Christlike love can be one of the best evangelistic strategies the church has. But this kind of culture does not happen automatically. Yes, the church will have to be deliberate in making this happen. Dever identifies 5 aspects of this type of church culture. First, the church must be covenantal. There needs to be a submission of all members to a church covenant of intentional spiritual formation. Second, the church must be careful, which is just another way of saying that there needs to be a deliberateness for obeying the Word of God in every aspect. Third, the church must be corporate. By this Dever means that we need to stress the fact that one cannot successfully live the Christian life alone. Fourth, the church must be cross-cultural. Here Dever is a bit controversial as he argues that "it is difficult to defend the practice of targeting a church to a particular demographic based on any factor other than language" (p. 111). Surely he is right that a church that transcends cultural differences is a powerful apologetic for the gospel. Fifth, the church must be cross-generational, meaning it should reflect the make-up of a family with members young and old alike interacting with one another.
Monday, April 20, 2009
In chapters 6 and 7 of The Deliberate Church, Dever and Alexander deal with what should transpire when the church gathers. Their comments are based on their biblical convictions that worship is the purpose of redemption and that in both the Old and New Testaments God has given us regulations about how we are to worship him. Thus the authors argue that the church's corporate worship should be governed by the Regulative Principle. That is, "everything we do in a corporate worship gathering must be clearly warranted by Scripture" (p. 77).
An alternative to the Regulative Principle is the Normative Principle. The authors give us a terse distinction between the two. While the Regulative Principle forbids anything not commanded by Scripture, the Normative Principle allows anything not forbidden by Scripture. There may not be a whole lot of differences between these two principles in actual practice. For example, the authors cite Exodus 20:4 at one point, but this is a passage that seems to me to be an expression of the Normative Principle if anything. But I do think that chapter 7 entitled "Applying the Regulative Principle" offers the pastor some very helpful guidance. The authors apply the Regulative Principle by identifying five basic elements of corporate worship. I'll state them briefly here:
- Read the Bible: The regular public reading of Scripture.
- Preach the Bible: A consistent diet of sermons that present the gospel and its implications as the natural outworking of the point of a biblical passage.
- Pray the Bible: Corporate prayer.
- Sing the Bible: Ensure that the church's singing is to theologically rich and memorable tunes.
- See the Bible: The proper use of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper.
I find it hard mentally to think in terms of either the Regulative Principle or the Normative Principle. But I do think that the authors have presented a solid case for our church's services to be "deliberate," centered around the five basic elements. And they may very well be right that we ought not add anything else to these five. I tend to agree, for example, that by incorporating drama into our worship gatherings we have robbed the sacraments from being the dramatic presentations of the gospel they were designed to be (see pp. 207-08, note 9). Perhaps the pressure to be entertaining has distracted us from worshiping God the way he wants us to.