Worship is not about you

worship2

This picture would have been inspiring a year ago but it no longer is.  This picture would have captured my idea of “worship” six months ago but it no longer does.  This picture would have been used as a promo shot for a worship night with the time and location on it a month ago, but it will no longer even be considered.

This is a dangerous area to enter so I am going to explore it cautiously.  I know there are some of you waiting to bite at the throat the moment you finish reading this and I ask you to keep one thing in mind before you comment….have you ever led worship?  

If the answer is no, please be gracious in trying to communicate your thoughts because they may fall to a deaf ear.  I am coming to realize through this whole blog thing that everyone has an opinion on everything and half the time they don’t have the vaguest idea of what they’re talking about.  Some people like to say things just to say things.  So, with that in mind, before you comment, think….”If my mechanic was telling me something he found out about working on cars, would I attack his opinion even though I don’t know how to change my oil?”  Just a thought…on to the writing.

I’ve been reading “The Dangerous Act of Worship” by Mark Labberton and following up his commentary by exploring the scriptures to test the waters he’s been testing for years.  Along with quotes from his book, I’ll provide commentary on what I’m feeling and exploring this new year in regards to worship, biblical worship.

“Christian worship is only possible as our response to the glory, power and love of God as revealed most clearly in and through Jesus Christ.  The gift of God’s revelation enables humanity to worship.”

I am convicted in the knowledge that my response to the glory of God is continually sinful and selfish.  This goes way beyond Sunday morning.  We’re all good to go on Sunday morning.  Worship goes beyond Sunday morning.  Your opinion of worship in the context of instruments and click tracks and hands raised is elementary and short sighted.  Worship goes beyond our preferences.  Worship should not include our preferences in the fashion we’ve sutured them to our ideology of how things should operate within the confines of the “church.”  There wouldn’t even be a “church” if Christ hadn’t died for us and somehow we lose sight of the only reason we are able to gather as one body.

“What is ironic and especially pertinent is that many debates about worship are just indirect ways of talking about ourselves, not God.  Our debates can readily devolve into little more than preference lists for how we like our worship served up each week.  It’s worship as consumption rather than offering; it’s an expression of human taste-not a longing to reflect God’s glory.”

Every week I receive a request to do “Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe.  No name, no email, no contact info, no identity.  Just an anonymous request every week from the same person.  I don’t know who this is and I’m not trying to embarrass anyone but this is precisely what Mark is talking about.  This person continues to submit this anonymous request with one thing in mind; “I want this song played.”  It’s tough receiving this request week after week because I have no way of contacting this person to tell them that I have listened to the song and ran it by my teams and we decided that we cannot do the song.  It’s a beautiful song, but it’s one of those songs that you need an entire symphony and four part harmony on to even attempt and just thinking about needing that much production on one song makes me think, “is it really worth it when we have to dress it up so?”

We are consumers.  We live in a nation that glorifies over-consumption.  Sex, media, music, cars, fashion, fame, consume consume and consume some more.  Why wouldn’t our natural upbringing of consumption be reflected on Sunday mornings as well?  This is the Goliath we are trying to attack on Sunday mornings as a worship team at The Journey.  We truly believe, that personal worship is important, but that’s another blog and exactly what it sounds like, personal.  How you choose to personally worship God throughout the week is between you and the Lord.  That’s not what we’re exploring.  We’re exploring worship as a body, a gathering to glorify God as a community, as a family.

Exodus 7:16 

16 Then say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert. But until now you have not listened.

Exodus 10:8-11 

8 Then Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “Go, worship the LORD your God,” he said. “But just who will be going?”

 9 Moses answered, “We will go with our young and old, with our sons and daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the LORD.”

 10 Pharaoh said, “The LORD be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil. [a] 11 No! Have only the men go; and worship the LORD, since that’s what you have been asking for.” Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.

Exodus 10:24-26 

24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship the LORD. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.”

 25 But Moses said, “You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the LORD our God. 26 Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the LORD our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the LORD.”

 

There’s a running theme in Exodus.  Worship as a community.  Worshiping together.  They needed everything they had in order to worship.  Let me repeat that sentence and maybe write it down somewhere.

They needed everything they had in order to worship.

I’m going to leave you with that thought because that’s where I’m at today.  What does that look like?  What would it look like if we needed everything we had, not to live, not to exist, not to get by, not to be entertained, but to worship?

Thoughts?  Comments?  What do you think?

5 Comments

  1. I totally agree with you actually. No I am not a worship leader but I am oon the intercessory prayer team. I can understand what you mean when worship turns into a sort of show. When we are praying it is just before worship. There are people praying, talking, laughing all while communication with God is supposed to be taking place. At church, there are so many different people there, so many spirits, and there for different reasons. That one accord atmospehere is hard to press into. There are a lot of people who will always only view worship as a form of entertainment. In regards to your question, the only way for us to worship with our “all” is for all to be on one accord. But it’s difficult. The enemy comes to church too. I do believe it would look something like the day of Pentecost. Everyone there was on one accord and God did something there that has not been done (if Im not mistaken) again. For everyone to all be focused on God in prayer and worship as a corporate body would be amazing… I don’t know…still thinking…

    • Great thoughts Matthews3404! Love it…keep it coming folks….let’s unravel something here!

  2. Something I learned as a worship leader… I used to find it hard worshiping to songs I had sung 100,000 times within a few month period. We could sing it leading at an event at another church as a guest, at an outreach event, a worship night, Wed. night service, Sunday service, practice for all of these singing it several times, on the radio, at a home Bible study, you get the picture. I literally got to a point to where I physically wasn’t going to sing it. And I didn’t sometimes because I felt like I was not worshiping and I wasn’t going to fake it. God taught me something through this. When coming into worship, not only is it not about the congregation or the worship leaders, it’s also not about the songs (let alone the stage, lights, etc.). Had God’s goodness changed one iota since the first time I had sung that song? No. Realizing that God was and is just as amazingly loving, full of mind-boggling grace, tender heartedly slow to anger, and many other things I could worship Him just the same. The song was no less true. With this knowledge, He allowed me to worship Him so freely and deeply not caring a single bit about who was leading, their style, whether or not my favorite songs were gonna play, or any of that kind of stuff. All I had to do was focus on Him, acknowledge who He is, praise and lift Him up on high. What glorious times! Oh, how I love worship!

  3. I love how they needed everything they had in order to worship. When most times, we’re told to leave everything outside of our community worship. Or how often do we come into a worship service expecting to get something out of it when we ourselves have not brought anything to it. Good stuff.

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