Mar
28
2007

Worship

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here. Today, I post because I just spent a long time composing an e-mail to someone and after all that work it seems like a shame to only send it to one person. =) So, I’ve edited it somewhat and now I post it here in the hope that it will stimulate thought (and perhaps discussion) among those who read it.

My subject is worship – something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, ever since Dr. Chris Barney raised the subject briefly in one of my undergrad classes several years ago. I’m preaching on the subject in my church in a few weeks, so it’s at the forefront of my thinking now even more than usual.

The genesis of my serious thought on the subject is a paper I wrote for that class with Dr. Barney. The paper was called “Glory in the Church,” and in it I basically tried to subdivide the purpose of the church into Worship, Edification, and Evangelism, and then tried to relate all of those back to glorifying God, which is the *primary* purpose of the church. Everything has to be done to glorify God.


So, how does what I do at church relate to that purpose? That’s the subject of my upcoming message.

Our singing, for instance, ought not be just pretty music, ought not be just entertainment – it should be purposeful, conscious *worship.* We have to understand that making beautiful sounds with melody and harmony is not enough, and that singing “good old conservative hymns” lifelessly and without thought is no more pleasing to God than the emotional (but thoughtless) singing of many CCM artists. [I’m not advocating CCM, just saying that we need to be careful about patting ourselves on the back too quickly, when really we’re often no better when it comes to really worshiping God.]

Or, for another example, our giving isn’t just something we do because the pastor & missionaries need money – it’s an act of purposeful, conscious,*worship* — or at least, it ought to be.

How does preaching relate to giving God glory? Well, the act of preaching certainly ought to do that, but what about the people in the pew? Well, they worship in their responses. They say, “yes, that is true, I assent to that.” or,”yes, that is right, I will do that.” or, “God, I’ve never seen your holiness that way before. You are a great God.” or, “I see my sin, and I repent. Please forgive me.” (etc, etc).

What about evangelization? Do I evangelize because I love the sinner, and have compassion on him? Well, yes, certainly. But an even more important reason is because God is glorified when a sinner repents, and He’s glorified even when the sinner does *not* repent but when I have obeyed God in giving the gospel to that sinner.

That, btw, changes the focus considerably, and may change the methodology. Is my purpose to “talk them into it” or to “trick” them? No. If I give the seed, I can rest assured that I have been “successful” in that I’ve pleased the Lord, and then He is responsible to use that seed however he wishes.

Well, that’s a “preview” of the message I’m working on. It will be somewhat unusual as sermons go. I haven’t figured out how to describe it yet — maybe an “interactive sermon” or a “sermon and song” or something. Basically, it will be a cantata without a drama, or a ‘singspiration’ with a lot of preaching, or a sermon with a lot of singing, however you want to look at it. I want to choose songs that illustrate the points and then weave hymn stories in with the sermon and music to bring it all together into a cohesive whole. Pastor has graciously given me pretty much the whole service so I’ll be able to integrate the song service, the offering, the sermon, and the invitation into one big package.

Each of those components will thus be related to the central theme. Example: What do you do when tragedy strikes? Well, look at Job. He said (paraphrase) “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” He worshiped. Modern day example: H. G. Spafford lost his family at sea, and in response wrote It Is Well With My Soul. He worshiped. That’s what we must do. (Then we’ll sing the song.)

Basically, I want the whole service to be a call to worship, and I want to give them plenty of opportunities to respond during the service by actually giving the worship due Him. Well, this is turning into quite a post, so I’d better stop and get back to studying.

Comments? Feel free to post them here or e-mail me your thoughts, ideas, and criticisms. How does this fit it with the traditional Fundamental Baptist church service? What about the “seeker” service or a more broadly evangelical one? What would change if our goal really was primarily to glorify God? And, if I can ask this without sounding too sermonic for a blog post, what should *you* change?

Anytime I get into theology on here I’m cognizant that I have a lot to learn still, and so I feel compelled to issue some sort of a disclaimer. In short, I reserve the right to retract, restate, or otherwise modify my views without notice. =)

Oh, a P.S.: As you may have noticed, I haven’t cited a lot of Scripture references. If you’re interested in studying it at greater length I’ll be glad to send you more detailed notes I’ve compiled on the subject, but for now I figured most people wouldn’t go look up all the references anyway, so I’ve just shared big ideas.

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