Sunday, November 29, 2009

Top 10 Observations on Worship

Worship is simply recognizing how awesome God is. He is wonderful. When we sit in a public worship service, we are taking time to recognize how awesome God is. When the Scripture tells us to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, it means that we recognize just how awesome God is with all our being. I hear from time to time that love is a decision. Well, it might be true that one might see the worth of someone and say, "I'm making a decision to recognize how neat that person really is." Usually though true love actually recognizes the worth of the person for the person for himself and a complex decision cycle simply is not needed. Some people are a struggle to love, because their value is clouded by sin. Regardless, they are valuable. Worship is a special recognition that God is worthy of all our honor, and praise, and loyalty. To worship him is to love him.

The Christian church often performs worship services without love being a huge component. My own church this morning I missed a lot of the worship service since I was in the infant nursery. We did not have our usual ones there so I spent some time thinking about worship. As the readers of this blog know I like to visit different worship services and make comparisons. Being somewhat distanced from my own worship service got me thinking about worship more in general. Here is my Top 10 Observations on Worship:

10. Worship is not one big commercial for church programs. It is really sad to see the sermon and other portions of the service to be extended announcements and pumping the crowd for participation in the small groups, latest conference, or other program. The message from such a service is that programs are God's kingdom on earth.

9. Worship is not an amateur music talent show. We can all safely assume that there is no one who desires for the music during the worship service to be lousy. However, the worship service is not the time to show off one's skills as a performer. When somebody does share a musical gift during the worship by leading congregational singing, singing a message in music, the people of God should rejoice at the use of these wonderful talents that have been given from above.

8. Worship is not merely a sermon. It is not difficult to find a church that approaches the worship service as merely a time for the pastor to let loose on the best teaching that he has. God does desire for his preachers to preach. To mistake that as the long and short of the worship service is to miss the point that we are there to observe the worth of the Lord, not the eloquence of the preacher. Prayer, confession, giving, and many other elements of worship make a well rounded worship service.

7. The style of the worship service is not nearly as important as experiencing the glory of God.

6. While public worship by its nature is a common, uniting experience, one should not be focused on group dynamics as much as one should be focused on God. It is easy to use worship time to build a rapport with the group and recognize those who serve well. The corporate gathering must not be the purpose of the gathering. We gather to worship God himself.

5. Worship is not about visual arts, such as banners, candles, video feeds, Power Point slides or architecture; worship is about God. The talents that the body of Christ has for interior design, architecture, creating engaging visual media, and other visual materials to aid in creating a worship service is not worship in and of itself. These are worthy gifts for the body of Christ to have, but are a means to an end. Recently I received a free sample of a magazine which specializes in planning worship. It seemed that the liturgical decorations were equated with worship.

4. Worship is not about creativity in planning a program. Much like point number 5, some people see that selecting the music, selecting the readings and creating the perfect order of worship as being worship. All churches have a order of worship. It is either formal or informal. It is either ornate or simple. An order of worship is inescapable. Those gifted to serve the body by designing the order of worship are a blessing. It is not synonymous with worship.

3. Worship leadership is not synonymous with music leadership. In days gone by, pastors conducted worship services and musicians assisted them. Today, the musicians have the reins. Many months ago I visited a congregation in Canberra Australia. The pastor took responsibility for the worship service. He conducted worship. It was wonderful to worship God in this fashion. Music was very important in the service, but God was more important.

2. Worship in spirit and in truth implies whole person engagement in worship.

1. Worship is about loving God.
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