This message was preached by Navaz D'cruz of Word of Grace Church at the Regions Beyond Leaders gathering in India in July 2017.
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WHY DO WORSHIP?
Firstly, we are created for worship. Westminster Shorter Catechism: The chief end of man is to enjoy God and glorify him forever.
Piper summarizes this as "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
The bible tells us that we become like what we worship.
Psalm 135:18 (NIV)Those who make them will be like them, Yes, everyone who trusts in them.
That is a powerful statement. Therefore, the more I worship God with all my heart, mind soul and strength, the more I will become like him and reflect his glory.
Worship has always required choice and change. It identifies which kingdom you belong to, and it has always been about the glory of God.
The Father seeks for us to worship Him (John 4:24). We are to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
Worship is a command in scripture – It is not a good idea but a God idea.
Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Ephesians 5:18-19 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…”
Singing is one of the two chief ways that the Word of God dwells in us richly.
When we sing we build up each other. Ephesians 5:19: Note specifically here that it says: “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…”
Music, melody, art, dance, creativity—all these things give voice to the mystery and hiddenness of the human heart. Darlene Zschech
WHO IS WORSHIP FOR?
Worship is about Jesus who deserves our highest praise for ever and ever. Its about our beautiful savior who died so that we could become sons of the most high God and free from fear … no longer slaves but Sons.
Worship is about HIS PRESENCE. In worship, we need to feel the heartbeat of God. We as worship leaders need to lead from the presence of God ushering people into His presence. We are channels, catalysts .
Worship is a lifestyle not a program or something we do for 45min each week. It’s who we are: worshippers. It’s something we do and live from 24/7. That is why who you have on your team is very important.
The most talented may not get on team if their heart is not submitted to the leadership and open to input, if they are not worshippers first. Make sure that you worship when you are not leading worship. Do not worship only when you lead. Their music cannot be their identity but rather that they are sons and daughters of God. Or else you will have a lot of trouble, ego issues etc. etc. Band is a whole topic by itself.
Worship is something that comes from the inside out, from a life of devotion. Remember that God is not looking for an outside-in, performance-based or talent-based offering. He has always been looking for an offering of the heart.
Worship is God centered, celebrating who God is, what He has done. His goodness.
Its cross centered -It’s centered on the finished work of the cross and not sin centered or man centered – a needy kind of worship is not God glorifying: begging him to do something for us.
Worship is not a means to an end. Warfare may happen in worship. It’s a hidden theme as it were. We see in Ephesians 5, the command to address one another in song comes right on the heels of “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
Don’t worship in order to get miracles. Focus on the one who is worthy of worship.
As Bill Johnson says when the reason for worship is warfare it is flattery i.e you are doing something in order to gain something. Imagine if you child only hugged you so that he could get a sweet from you? How awful!!
Worship is a response to the worth of the person we are worshipping. So matter what we are going through, his worthship is constant. That is 100% honesty, transparency and authenticity before God. It recognizes God for who He is from a place of a yielded heart.
That releases the presence of God and his power into different situations.
Today worship has become very popular. We all want the 5-7 piece band, loud guitars/drums great voices that could win a Grammy, Dove etc. etc. All that is good provided we do not forget WHO this is about.
Let’s be careful not to shift the focus from the wonder of the person worthy of worship to the medium of worship i.e the music etc.
HOW DO WE WORSHIP?
We worship from a place of identity not to get identity– Sons of God who simply want to delight in Him and his presence. This is critical and key. If we don’t have this we get into performance, begging or religion.
Scripture gives us many indications from the Psalms , in Ephesians, Colosssians etc.
What do we do when we come together? It says each one of us has something to bring to the gathering – a psalm, a new song, scripture, a word of encouragement, the gifts of the spirit etc.
We have to teach our people how to listen to his voice, when to step up, and when to listen and hold back. Make lots of room for the work of the Spirit.
Allow your congregation to participate. Intentionally make room for it.
So, after the first few songs intentionally pause for people to participate. Engage them. We do believe in the priest hood of all believers. Do our meetings reflect that?
Is this possible only in a small setting? Well its easier. In larger setting have a system whereby people can contribute. Have floater mics, someone to whet prophetic up front etc. It might be messy at first but that is ok. Its like children learning to walk. WE don’t stop them because they fall. We keep encouraging and teaching.
Worship leader need to beware seeing this as a hindrance. Often times I have noticed someone prays or brings a scripture and fits band in with what’s on my heart and that only gives me courage to share but everyone now witnesses a beautiful orchestration of the Holy Spirit speaking and building upon each contribution.
Look for connection. When we worship in community we need to have connection with the people. Understand where your congregation is at and help them on their journey in worship. Teach a little on worship every now and then.
Be very patient. We keep having new people in our church. WE go through cycles of new people and every new season. I have to re teach on worship because people are either new Christians, or from another worship experience or from traditional churches. Don’t beat your sheep, feed them. Pray for them. We carry a pastoral responsibility toward the people as well.
Spontaneous Vs Rehearsed
I hear too much of a debate on this point. I think it’s a bit of both. Being prepared is not being in the flesh. God who gave prophetic words to his people hundreds of years before they came to pass can speak to us about what course the worship should take.
This is a topic for a worship band training so I won’t go into lengths here. However we need to straddle both. Eg) A good vacation is one that is planned and has room for the spontaneous. It’s a problem if we are rigid about a setlist. It’s equally bad not to prepare and expect something magical to happen.
We are not program driven, neither are we personality driven. We are people lead by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and He is a God or order and the suddenlys.
Make room for spontaneous singing. We are slowly loosing this in our congregations. God activity releases his presence. We are a people of His presence. Its not about whipping up some kind of spiritual high.
Worship comes in waves and we need to be attentive and catch the wind of the Spirit.
So we need to take care of what we are singing. Let our songs be rich in theology, doctrine. The Wesley brothers knew that the people could not read nor write so they put scripture and theology to song. In today’s blip age of one liners, 2 min video clips, whatsapp size messages people’s retention span has greatly reduced.
Most people remember songs. What are your people singing when they leave your service? People often go back home humming a song not a sermon (I mean no disrespect here). In times of joy and sorrow what are our people singing? Find songs that are rich in content and not just some happy clappy mumbo jumbo. Make a special effort to find or write good Hindi songs.
C J Maheny said “worship is take home theology”
Impact on the unbeliever -Think of the impact on someone who does not know Christ. Do they hear the gospel n our worship? This is why Tim Keller says: “Good corporate worship will naturally be evangelistic”
Let our worship be multi-generational – What do I mean by this? I love new songs. I believe they are written for a season and have an anointing for a season maybe.
At Word of Grace we introduce an average of 12 new songs every year – both homegrown and from around the world. . Be intentional about new songs and choose carefully what you introduce to your church. When was the last time you introduced a new song and is it being done regularly. Timeless truth sung in a fresh way does something to the worship.
However, retain some of the old as well. There are older people in the congregation that find it hard to keep up with new songs and styles but don’t get stuck there.
Worship builds a Launchpad for the prophetic. You want that in your meetings. Ask God for the prophetic every time you meet
There needs to be a good working relationship between the pastor and the worship leader. There needs to be trust and honour for both to release each other to flow in the spirit. So if your pastor tells you have only 30 mins. Honor that and make every song count.
In time he will trust what you are sensing the Spirit and allow you to flow understand that God is bigger your understanding of time. Please do not say I’m being stifled etc. Learn to honor. God can do something in an instant if we trust him.
DOES WORSHIP HAVE ANY PARTICULAR FORM?
Remember what we started this out with. Worship is about a person. Its a connection with the object of our love – Jesus.
The expression of this will differ depending on the cultural context. We need to beware to imitating styles that people cannot relate with. Know your congregation and use the right tools to help them engage.
We also need to be aware of the culture of the Kingdom of this world vis a vis Kingdom culture. What things in our culture are a hindrance to heartfelt authentic worship?
We need to deal with any religiosity that is dead works. It could be fear/shame. It comes from a place of a slave mentality and not sonship. When you do this there will be no pressure to perform and make something happen.
WHEN WE HAVE DONE THIS WHAT IS THE RESULT?
The glory of God will fill the place. People will be filled with his presence and take is presence into the world wherever they go. That is how the earth shall be filled with the glory of God even as the waters cover the sea.
There will be rest in your worship
Make worship in your church a safe place where people are not afraid to be themselves.