Richard Pratt told us once in seminary that Presbyterian churches had turned their services into classrooms. At the time I was insulted by what appeared to be a defense of anti-intellectualism. I had run away from that tradition long ago and was now eager to embrace a lively and freshly academic pursuit of Biblical studies. In my seven years in Presbyterianism I have observed that Richard’s comments were true. Pastor Jeff Meyers observes in his excellent treatment of the Divine Liturgy that churches that treat worship as education “tend to degenerate into lecture halls complete with overhead projectors and armies of note-taking members” (The Lord’s Service, 26). As a result, little time in invested in what precedes in the liturgical act (confession, assurance, singing, etc.) All things are mere distractions to the central event, which is the preaching.
As an example of this, some time ago I subscribed to a podcast where a teacher taught through New Testament books using the Greek text. I found it quite helpful. As time went on, I realized that this was not a separate study, but the actual Sunday morning worship service; that is, a worship service to the linguistic elite.
As Meyers observes the “Bible appears not to put the emphasis on teaching in worship” (27). Rather, the Psalms are replete with passages exhorting God’s people to “worship and bow down; kneel before Yahweh, our Maker!” (Psalm 95:1-2, 6). It must be stressed, however, that teaching is a crucial and indispensible portion of the morning worship, but it must not be the sole reason for worship.