By Dennis C. Abernathy
Should men be used to direct or lead the worship services when they are not faithful to attend the services of the local church (coming only on Sunday mornings)? Should these men be used in leading the local church in worship as a means to encourage them (the men) to greater faithfulness?
These questions point to a problem found in many local churches around the country. Personally speaking, I do not believe men should be used to lead the congregation in worship whose interest in, and support of, the Lord’s church is clearly lacking! This practice of using men to lead in worship who come only occasionally does not encourage them to be more faithful, but rather it encourages the opposite. It does encourage one to attend the one service in which they have an assignment, with the understanding that they can remain in their regular pattern of mediocrity and indifference.
The Bible does not teach that men are to lead in worship in order to encourage them to greater faithfulness, but rather it does teach that men are to lead because they are faithful and concerned about the work of the Lord and his church!
I recognize there is no detailed passage in the Bible giving instructions as to the service arrangements and assignments. There are, however, some scriptural reasonings upon Bible principles that need to be considered carefully.
1. Men who lead singing, wait on the Lord’s table, teach, preach, lead in prayer, etc., are leading the congregation. The kingdom of the Lord places great emphasis on righteousness. “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Those who are leading in the worship should be men whose lives radiate that righteousness. “My little children, let no man lead you astray: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. . . In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God” (1 Jn. 3:7,10).
2. Another very important consideration is one’s influence. It should be understood of those who lead the congregation in worship, that they should have a good influence on their fellow man and on their brethren (Col. 4:5). Christians are to be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” that others may “see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16). What kind of influence will a brother have if he seldom comes to the services, and when he does come it is but for one hour on Sunday morning? Is it good for a chronic absentee to teach in the local church? Should one who is spasmodic in his attendance lead the singing? It is a harmful influence when one leads the church in worship and it is common knowledge that he is indifferent in attendance and attitude toward the local church.
3. Worship is to be “in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24). What a pitiful mockery it makes of worship, for one who is indifferent, to thank the Lord for worship, for the Bible, for the church and for the privilege of being a member of that glorious body, and then by his life show that these things mean little to him! What is one to make of the brother who leads the congregation in prayer, thanking God for the privilege of worship and praying that all be back at the next service, and then through observation learning that it is not counted as much of a privilege, because he will not be back until next Sunday morning maybe!
Brethren, as long as men are called upon to lead the congregation in worship, while at the same time they themselves are indifferent toward attending the services of the church, it is just that long that the church will be stymied as far as influence is concerned. The young people will continue to grow up thinking that it is all right to come to church occasionally. They will learn to ignore and become calloused to Bible preaching. When the preacher preaches faithfulness in attendance, and the church continues to use men to lead who are not faithful in attendance, the sword of the Spirit is dulled quite quickly!
In conclusion, men who are not faithful in their attendance do not need to be leading the church, but, they need to be led and taught and to be faithful to the Lord. They need to be taught to “seek the kingdom first” (Matt. 6:33), and to “set their affections on things above” (Col. 3:2). Brethren, let us all be faithful in our church attendance (Heb. 10:25; Jas. 4:17; Acts 2:42,46).
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 6, p. 179
March 17, 1988