Worship Service Planning 101: Debated Greek Words, Old School Delirous? etc

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

A church campus, built in 1915 as an elementary school, rests at the corner of Silver and Ekin. A woman and a man walk a dog down the partially shaded sidewalk. In the distance, a troublesome muffler disturbs the tranquility of an otherwise uneventful morning. It’s just another day in Anytown, USA. Inside, a church creative team prepares for the coming Sunday’s worship service.

They’re in the first week of a sermon series called Bliss Or Miss: Marriage In God’s Kingdom. Pastor Jonah is away on vacation, frollicking in the Montana mountains. Pastor Bobby will preach Ephesians 5:21-33 (see the various ways this church creates pieces of communication that come out of these weekly meetings here). 

This Week’s Players (in alphabetical order)

  • Lindsey Blair – Women’s Director
  • Bobby Gilles – Associate Pastor
  • Stephen Pierce — Family Pastor
  • Justin Shaffer – Worship Director

Lindsey: So Bobby: Jonah went on vacation and left you a controversial passage to preach?

Bobby: Pretty much. (everyone chuckles). To be fair, I volunteered for it (Ephesians 5:21-33). This and related passages have been one of my main areas of study. You all have read the manuscript so I won’t go through it, but here is some background:

The key is that I am starting with Ephesians 5:21 not 5:22. It’s crazy that so many Baptist and Complementarian churches preach this passage by starting with verse 22, and ignoring 21.

Stephen: It goes back to the Bible editors and publishers. They usually group 22-31 together under a heading like, “Husbands and wives.”

Bobby: Which is crazy because the Koine Greek word for “submit” isn’t even in v. 22. It literally says, “Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord.” To your husbands what? Pray? Tithe? We wouldn’t know he means “submit” without the context of v. 21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The rubric of the whole passage is “submit to one another,” not “wives, submit to your husbands.”

Second, a lot of the debate between Egalitarians and Complementarians centers on the Greek word for “head,” kephale. One side claims that it only ever means “authority,” while the other side says it usually means “source” but can also mean “prime,” “first in line,” or “foundation.” And so we’ve got a so-called “Battle of the Lexicons,” and scholars publishing paper after paper. And despite what each side says, none of it is definitive.

But we’re making this too hard. The “job description” for this thing that Paul calls “head” is right there, in the passage and in his reference to Genesis 2:24. If you knew I had said, “Janet is a pitbull,” and you didn’t have any other context, you’d wonder what I meant. Is Janet vicious? Is Janet tenacious? Is Janet ugly? Is there literally a pitbull named “Janet?”

But suppose you found out the full context of my quote was, “We need to get Janet on this project because we can’t have any more delays or rabbit trails. Janet is a pitbull — she’ll get it done.” Now you know what I meant. You don’t have to do a word study of every time someone uses “pitbull” as a metaphor in 21st century American English. You have the context.

If there is an “authority” that the husband possesses, it is an authorization from Jesus to minister like him in the ways that Paul describes (love, serve, sacrifice), and in the only command given to Adam in relation to Eve back in Genesis 2, which Paul references (cleave to your wife so the two will be one flesh, in a way that shows the world what union with Christ is like).

Lindsey: Can I just say that your manuscript is so clear and biblical. I wish that we — and a lot of the couples I know — had heard this ten or fifteen years ago.

Justin: I think we know of one (maybe two or three) men who will struggle with this but it’s helpful.

Bobby: Thanks. What you’ve done on the liturgy so far looks great.

Justin: Some of the songs may change if Jeremy can’t sing because it will lead to a different makeup of the band.

Lindsey: We’re going Old School Sojourn if Jeremy is involved? I saw “My Glorious” on the liturgy.

Justin: Yep.

Bobby: What if you used the Revelation passage on the marriage supper of the lamb as the Assurance reading?

Justin: I dig it. And we’ll do Colossians 3:15 for the Passing of the Peace, which should set the sermon up well. We’ll end with 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 as the Benediction.

Bobby: Sweet. And Sarah Ash is doing the scripture reading and announcements. I love it when a plan comes together!

The meeting ended abruptly since Pastor Jonah wasn’t there to play “Old Town Road.” 

Did Sojourn OG Jeremy Quillo lead “My Glorious?” How did the Revelation 16 passage work as a Celebration of Assurance? How hard did Pastor Bobby go on patriarchy? For answers to these and other questions, see yesterday’s Christian Liturgy 101: How One Church Worshiped post.

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