Mystery Worshipper visits Shaftesbury

5 Feb

Spot the famous blogger

So I thought I’d better justify my backstage pass to the Another King stats page by actually posting something.

This came to my attention a few weeks ago (ht Rosemary). It’s fascinating to get a glimpse of how outsiders from other denominations might feel when they worship with an RP congregation. As Shaftesbury Square RP is my de facto congregation away from home, I found this particularly interesting and challenging. The correspondent seems somewhat bemused by the lack of instrumental accompaniment, and bemoans the lack of a post-service cup of coffee (one of my personal hobby-horses, but that’s another story), but otherwise generally seems to enjoy the service.

How would this report read if it was written about your church? When we attend public worship, we are on display to anyone who might happen to walk in off the street. Do we behave accordingly? Are we showing that we are deeply moved by the Psalms we sing? Are we attentively listening to the sermon being preached? Are we willing to go out of our way to be friendly to the lonely visitor, and make them feel welcome and loved? In short, is our conduct at church on Sabbath morning/evening God-honouring?


9 Responses to “Mystery Worshipper visits Shaftesbury”

  1. Daniel Ritchie February 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    Overall, that was a very interesting and positive report. I thought this line said a lot:

    “Very little distracts you in a church like this. It was the least distracting church I have ever attended.”

    Strangely, I met up with a non-Christian friend (who is from an Anglican back-ground) today for a coffee, and, somewhere in the conversation, it emerged that they had heard the Revd John George preach at Ballylaggan, and thought that the RP approach to worship was far better than the Anglican practice.

  2. Benjamin P. Glaser February 6, 2010 at 3:32 am #

    I am a big fan of ship-of-fools. I have probably read each of the reviews.

    Very interesting.

    Well said Daniel.

  3. Daniel Ritchie February 6, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    BTW the Revd Stuart Olyott is preaching in Great Vicotria Street Baptist next weekend. The services on Friday and Saturday nights are at 8pm and 5.30pm respectively.

    As an added bonus Steelo will not be able to attend…lol.

  4. Philip February 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    Of course it’s not really a case of our worship being “better” than anybody else’s. With that sort of attitude it doesn’t really matter what sort of worship we practice – our heart attitude will be all wrong and worship will be pointless. There’s no point looking down on other Christians just because we disagree with them.

  5. Daniel Ritchie February 7, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    If something is more biblical then it is better. Are Christians ethically better than mass murderers? Are Christian nations better than Stalinist dictatorships? The answer to these questions is obvious. Yet it is only the grace of God which makes one differ from another; it’s not that there is anything meritorious in our worship. And nobody said anything about “looking down” on anyone else just because their worship is less biblical than ours.

  6. Philip February 7, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    All I’m saying is that there are plenty of Christians out there who believe how they worship is biblical, and we’re in no position to say we worship “better” than them. They might even base their singing of other songs on the same verses we do, it’s just a different interpretation. Not quite comparable to Stalinist dictatorships.

  7. Daniel Ritchie February 8, 2010 at 7:50 am #

    What you are affirming is relativism. Yes, they may believe that their worship is biblical (even the Romanists would argue that), but they are wrong; and if I did not believe that I would join them. Moreover, at the Reformation Protestants and Romanists, Lutherans, Zwinglians, and Eucharistic Calvinists all appealed to the same verses to justify their view(s) of the Lord’s Supper, but none of them argued “well, that’s your interpretation. Let’s just all get along.” Let me ask you another question: Do you agree with the Westminster Confession that those who contemn the ordinance of baptism, by refusing to baptise their children, are in “great sin” (WCF 28:5 – the primary sources reveal that this was aimed at antipaedobaptists)? Does what you have said above comport with the Westminster divines’ views? Was their “heart attitude all wrong”? No, they believed in absolute truth. So do I. Thus I do not adopt the mindset of post-modernity that has crept into the church. Having experienced anti-historical, effiminate, non-doctrinal evangelicalism, with its liturgical anarchy, I can confidently affirm that the RP way is better. It does not mean that anyone else is any less Christian than I am, but it does mean that what they are doing is harmful to the Church.

    My reference to Stalinist dictatorships was simply to highlight the fact that we can say one thing is better than another, something which the premises of your argument do not (logically) allow you to admit.

  8. Steelo February 10, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    “BTW the Revd Stuart Olyott is preaching in Great Vicotria Street Baptist next weekend. The services on Friday and Saturday nights are at 8pm and 5.30pm respectively.

    As an added bonus Steelo will not be able to attend…lol.”


  9. jmark (Mark Loughridge) February 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    I think it would be better to affirm that the RP manner of worship is only better if it is from the heart. Gods word has more to say against those who are right in action and ‘whose hearts are far from me’. It is the meshing together of right content and right heart that makes ‘best’ worship.

    We may have better content, but often I wonder whether our hearts are as engaged as they should be.

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