In the book Journeys of Faith there is an article by Wilbur Ellsworth, a once prominent Reformed Baptist minister from Wheaton who shares his story of how he journeyed from Evangelicalism to Orthodoxy.
One of the main factors which contributed to prompting Ellsworth’s search for other expressions of the Christian faith was how Evangelicals worshiped. He explains:
Reverence is a spiritual experience that comes from consciously standing in the presence of the All-Holy Triune God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. This Presence is so great that very often in Scripture, when people became aware they were in the presence of God, the first thing they needed to be told was, “Fear not!”
Such a message seldom seems necessary today across a wide span of American Evangelicalism. People are invited to sit back and relax and enjoy the service. It would seem the service is more about us than it is about coming into the presence of the living God. In an attempt to relate to present culture, the atmosphere of the modern church service is intentionally casual, comfortable, and user friendly…
Some years ago I was talking with a widely known professor in one of America’s most prestigious seminaries related to a major mainline denomination. While there is a great diversity of theological views at this school, the students are serious and thoughtful. One of the notable things about this seminary, the professor said, was that the vast majority of the student body attend chapel with a spirit of reverence. There is one exception: the Evangelical students. They come with bright minds and a settled theology but with little regard for humility and respect in the presence of God. (p.30)
He goes on to say, “My point is not to charge all or even most Evangelicals with irreverence. That would be untrue, unfair, and unkind. But I do believe that the very roots of reverence have been greatly weakened in Evangelical churches.”