Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On Worship: Introduction

I have been thinking a lot about worship lately. I've been reading and thinking and talking and writing and think I want to start a series of posts of my thoughts on worship. I am continuously trying to grow in my understanding of worship and seeking how to use my abilities to help all those around me increase in their worship to God the Creator and our Salvation. As a worship leader, I want to grow in my skills and understanding, and I want to use what I have learned to help other worship leaders grow.

A lot the information you'll find about worship, especially on the internet, deals with the what's and how's and when's and where's. These can be important to discuss and improve. First and foremost, I want to make sure I'm clear on the why's. Why do we worship? Why do we come together to worship rather than remaining by ourselves? Why do we do the things we do in the way that we do them? If I look at a particular practice and just try to evaluate whether it is good or bad or look for ways to improve, I might be going down a path that leads to nowhere. No matter how fast I get there, heading toward nowhere will still get me nowhere. Thus, I want to make sure the destination is well understood before making the journey. I need to understand the why's of what we do before and make sure those are correct and let that guide me in my journey to make the how's, what's, when's, and where's better.

A song that I've come to appreciate more in the last few years is "Heart of Worship" by Matt Redman. I really love the lyrics that focus our worship on God rather than on us and our preferences. Recently, I learned the story behind the song. You can read about it here or watch this video where Matt Redman discusses the story with his pastor.

Another song along the same lines is called "Clear the Stage" by Ross King. It asks what our idols are.

The primary purpose of worship is to honor God. Anything we do that gets in the way of that purpose needs to be stripped away whether it happens in our individual lives throughout the week or during the couple of hours we allocate for corporate worship on a Sunday. When worship becomes about me and my desires, I am setting myself up as an idol for myself or others. When I lead the congregation in worship, I constantly have to keep my pride in check. Everyone is looking at me, following me. If I am not pointed in the right direction, I am not leading them in the right direction, toward God. Paul said to emulate him as he emulates Christ; as a leader I should always be pointing to God in my worship so that those who follow me will also be pointed to God.

I haven't used a lot of scripture to back up any of my arguments for the simple fact that there are way too many to list. But just so that I'm not totally devoid of references, Psalm 95 does a better job than I of describing the purpose of worship.

Today, I've focused on the vertical aspect of worship. In the next post, I want to continue to discuss the why's but shift perspectives to examine the horizontal aspects of worship. So far I have 7 general topics planned but will change and add more as I go along.

  • Community
  • Connections
  • Planning
  • Flow
  • Communion
  • Styles
  • Sunday Nights
Each of this topics will heavily biased by my experiences and understanding within the context of a traditional church of Christ worship service. That's not to say that I won't be challenging those traditions, but I'll leave that for later posts.
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