All posts in "Worship"

Have we divorced worship from service?


I’m afraid we’ve almost divorced worship from loving our neighbor as our self. The first and most important commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” And we go, Oh, stop right there. That’s worship. Yeah, but keep reading. Jesus isn’t finished yet. And the second most important commandment is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And I think I read somewhere that we should weep with those who weep. But I think most of the Christian church is focused on rejoicing with those who rejoice. It’s hard work. It can be depressing if your focus is constantly on the pain and the suffering and the sin and the poor and the homeless and the marginalized, the racism that goes down in this world and even in the churches. I’m not a macabre person. But the bottom line is that worship of God cannot be disconnected with loving your neighbor as yourself. Yet for the last eight or ten years, when Christians are talking about worship, we’re really talking about the songs. That’s so one-dimensional. Worship really is lifestyle, and it includes suffering alongside of my neighbor. Worship includes not just bringing my offering to the temple, but for the one who has two coats, to give one to him who has none. And I think that there is a divorce among many Christians when it comes to loving their neighbor, particularly their poor or their marginalized or their not-so-groovy-never-drive-a-Lexus neighbor. That kind of attitude. These folks think they’re worshiping God? Because they’re singing “the top ten” worship hits on Sunday morning? Excuse me. I’m hearing the prophet Amos hollering in my head. Glenn Kaiser, Singin’ the Blues (Interview with ChristianityToday.com, June 13, 2005)


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How to tell if your worship is asleep


Sometimes those who plan our worship are sleepy. The prayers are self centered. Song texts are all focused on personal concerns. The preaching avoids the issues that concerned the prophets. Our services are safe and predictable. The only time we get aroused is over small stuff, such as music styles or carpet color, not the bug stuff, like justice, mercy, and the weightiness of God. When a church is asleep it enters worship with a forgetfulness about the lostness of the lost and the brokenness of the broken. It loses touch with the fact that we live in 911 world. Even today, the world is in a state of emergency racked with tremendous suffering and pain. As we gather today, one-sixth of the world lives in absolute poverty. Each year nearly 1 million children are sold or forced into the sex traffic trade. This house thousands will die from starvation. Hundreds from malaria, malnutrition, genocide, and HIV/AIDS. Some time ago I read that in the last hour 2,738 people died from starvation, 342 people died from malaria, 76 mothers died from childbirth issues, 9,582 babies died from induced abortion, 8,898 infants and children were abandoned, and 20 Christians were martyred. Worship should wake us up to the reality of a just and holy God who will judge the world in righteousness. Yet he is also the God who hears the cries of the needy. Don Sweeting, excerpted from Waking Up:  Worship and Justice in a Messed-Up World, The Gospel Coalition blog.


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A Call to Worship for Independence Day


We came from all places and all peoples to gather here today. Some of us traveled across the ice, others came later in boats, still others of us waded rivers or arrived in planes. We found a land blessed. Blessed with mountains and valleys, rivers and oceans, fertile earth, wonderful woods, and promising cities. Here, A dream was born. A dream of freedom from all oppression, A dream of hope for our children, A dream of people in community under God. We have turned to nations and peoples who gave us birth: Send us the voiceless. Send us the fearful. Send us the oppressed. And so the dream continues… And so the dream of America continues… God, help us to do your work until your dreams come true… ~~~ A 21st Century Worship Resource The Rev. Nathan Decker Courtesy of GBOD.org  


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Rules for corporate worship – MarsHill Church, Seattle


The media arm of MarsHill Church, pastored by Mark Driscoll, has a great post listed what might be considered ‘non-negotiables’ for corporate worship. Corporate worship: 1.  …is to be G0d-centered 2.  … should be intelligible 3.  …is to be seeker-sensible 4.  …is to be unselfish. 5.  …is to be orderly. 6.  …is to be missional. These seem obvious but may bear repeating occasionally. Also posted are the elements of corporate worship w/scripture references: Preaching (2 Timothy 4:2) Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Table (Matthew 28:19;1 Corinthians 11:17–34) Prayer (1 Timothy 2:1) Reading Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13) Financial giving (2 Corinthians 8–9) Singing and music (Colossians 3:16) Agree?  No?


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Pop-shaped worship


Unless an individual chooses to listen to different kinds of music, the only thing that individual will hear (most of the time) is pop. Sure, one’s sensibilities can be shaped deliberately, and many of us have developed tastes that we once did not have. (I spent years cultivating a taste for Brahms, whom I now love, and I spent about two years cultivating my appreciation for jazz.) If I did not believe that sensibilities could be cultivated, I wouldn’t have written the book; it is, in some senses, a plea to shape them differently from the way commercial pop culture shapes them. But for people who do not take ownership of the cultivation of their sensibilities, other cultural gatekeepers will shape them for them—and in this case, they will shape them to prefer pop. Professor T. David Gordon, author of “Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns”, interviewed by Christianity Today Is this something to be fought or ‘ridden out’?  What do you think?


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Looking in the wrong direction


Professor John Koessler of Moody Bible Institute has a problem with his Sunday morning worship: I find that I have reached a stage in life where most of the music I hear in church is “their” music, whoever “they” are. That is to say, I have reached a stage in life where most of the music I hear in church annoys me. I do not mean to be a musical snob. Indeed, I think of myself as an eclectic. I was raised on Bix and Beethoven. I came of age in the era of the Beatles. The buttons on my car radio are set to classical, country, oldies, rock, and even Christian music. I think of myself as someone who has been baptized by immersion in the waters of musical diversity. Yet somehow when Sunday comes, all my musical sophistication dissolves, and I am reduced to that most primitive test of aesthetic values: “I may not know what art is, but I know what I like.” Or, rather, “I may not know what worship is, but I know what it isn’t.” When the worship leader reminds me that worship “isn’t about me,” I try to take it to heart. I really do. Nevertheless, more often than not, I walk into church hoping to be a worshiper and leave a curmudgeon. A chastened curmudgeon. A repentant curmudgeon. But a curmudgeon nonetheless. He also has a solution: I have concluded that the root of my problem is one of vertigo, not aesthetics. What I need is not a change of tune so much as a reorientation along worship’s true trajectory. Like most churchgoers, I tend to view worship as something that moves from earth to heaven. We think of worship as something that originates with us, our gift to God. Perhaps this is why so many of us are conflicted about it. We consider worship to be an expression of our personal devotion. So when the musical style or some expression gets in the way, we don’t feel like it is our worship at all. It is someone else’s idea of worship. Perhaps the worship leader’s or that of the majority. But not our own. The biblical portrait of worship moves in the opposite direction. The trajectory of heavenly worship begins with God and descends to earth. This trajectory is reflected in Psalm 150, where praise begins in the heavenly sanctuary and resounds throughout the domain of God. From there it is taken up by those on earth, who praise God with a variety of instruments and dancing, until “everything that has breath” praises the Lord (Ps. 150:6). The entire piece is worth reading. Do you have similar difficulties?  Different problems?


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Is Christian worship for non-believers?


Yes, it can be, says Tim Keller, citing Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 as evidence: 1. Nonbelievers are expected to be present in Christian worship. In Acts 2 it happens by word-of-mouth excitement. In 1 Corinthians 14 it is probably the result of personal invitation by Christian friends. But Paul in14:23 expects both unbelievers and the unlearned (literally a seeker—“someone who does not understand”)to be present in worship. 2. Nonbelievers must find the praise of Christians to be comprehensible. In Acts 2 it happens by miraculousdivine intervention. In 1 Corinthians 14 it happens by human design and effort. But it cannot be missed thatPaul directly tells a local congregation to adapt its worship because of the presence of unbelievers. It is afalse dichotomy to insist that if we are seeking to please God we must not ask what the unchurched feel orthink about our worship. 3. Nonbelievers can fall under conviction and be converted through comprehensible worship. In 1 Corinthians14 it happens during the service, but in Acts 2 it is supplemented by after meetings and follow-up evangelism.God wants the world to overhear us worshiping him. God directs his people not simply to worship,but to sing his praises before the nations. We are not simply to communicate the gospel to them, but celebratethe gospel before them. Tim Keller, Evangelistic Worship, RedeemerCitytoCity.org Click to download:  Evangelistic_Worship TKeller


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No shortcuts to worship planning


When the Bible calls us to sing God’s praises, we are not given the tunes or the rhythm. We are not told how repetitive the lyrics are to be or how emotionally intense the singing should be. When we are commanded to do corporate prayer, we are not told whether those prayers should be written, spoken in unison, or extemporaneous. So to give any concrete form to our worship, we must fill in the blanks that the Bible leaves open. When we do so, we will have to draw on tradition, the needs, capacities, and cultural sensibilities of our people, and our own personal preferences. Though we cannot avoid drawing on our own preferences,they should never be the driving force (cf. Rom. 15:1–3).   But if we fail to do the hard work of consulting both tradition and culture, we will—wittingly or unwittingly—choose music just to please ourselves. Tim Keller, Evangelistic Worship, via RedeemerCitytoCity.org  


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