Recently I read a good book that was originally written in the 1980's. It was titled "Worship - Rediscovering the Missing Jewel.” I thought the book might be a bit outdated because it was written back when the new worship movement was just beginning, but I picked up several jewels that I want to share with you. If you are looking for a good book on worship I recommend this book.
What is the single most important ingredient needed to experience great worship? Some may say listening to great music, an awesome voice, or listening to one of the great classics. The responses would be as many as those responding. Have you ever been in a church where the music was great and yet the worship seemed lacking? What is it that makes for an awesome worship experience? I heard a worship leader once say that music was secondary in worship. He said that he would rather have someone with a heart of worship than someone who was talented in his band or on the vocal team. My response was, NO WAY!! I went to college to study music and do the best I can for the Lord. What's he talking about? I have been in churches where the musicians and vocals were less than tolerable for the ear, and I could not worship with all the distractions of missed notes and off-tune singing. It was a frustrating experience to say the least. Did I miss out because of the art? I recall another instance where I was in a very talented church where the musicians were oozed quality and the music was right on. I found myself leaving that situation impressed but missing out on the worship. The same could be said of every situation in between when we look at it from an art view.
I love the phrase taken from the book mentioned above - "It's not the art, but the heart". How true this is. Some churches are notorious for trying to be super creative in their worship. Always attempting to do different things each week to spice up the services, and utilizing every means available to "wow" the people.
Since true worship is about God and not about us, what is it that He desires? Does He desire a song and dance? He does desire our best, but what is it that He wants more than anything? I believe it's our hearts, our love, our commitment, and our faithfulness to Him. I don't believe that God is impressed with our big programs that we put together for our people. I believe that He is moved by one of His children coming before Him with a broken heart as He pours out his heart in thankfulness for what God has done in his life. I believe God is moved when one of His children sings to the top of his lungs in praise to the only God who is worthy of praise. God is moved by our praise and worship, and not by our fancy programs to impress man.
When the people of our church fail to participate in worship, I believe it's because of two things. One, they don't know what to do because they have very little understanding on this thing called worship. Secondly, their hearts are not ready, or prepared, to experience worship because they have come straight from home where they have been fighting with the kids and their spouse all morning. They run around getting the kids settled in Sunday School and usually arrive late to worship. They sit down and before they can catch their breath the music portion is over and their opportunity to participate is gone. The reality is that some people don't see the importance of worshiping God in our daily lives. They do worship, but they haven't experienced the joy of worshiping the Father yet.
I believe that both of these obstacles need attention. If we will communicate from the pulpit and in writing on a consistent basis to our people, they will begin to grow. If we model it before them each week, those who want to learn will grow. If we will encourage them to express their worship on a daily basis, their corporate experience will be awesome. As leaders we are teachers and need to help people understand what worship is. Remember! This is like any other area of growth for a Christian, it will take time.
Focus on the hearts of the people and a little less on the art, and worship will come. May our worship become what it should be and not what we have made it. Let us move away from wowing our people and help them to learn to wow the Lord with their hearts in worship, and we will see an explosion in worship with God's hand moving like never before. Press on towards the mark that He has called you complete for His Glory!