In the previous post, we looked at how our views of worship often depend more on our personal experience than on some objective standard. Rather than complaining about worship that is lacking in some way, or being frustrated by your lack of understanding about what is supposed to look like, think about building worship that makes a difference
Worship is an active, purposeful, relational encounter with God. In worship, we practice relationship with God.
Worship is active, not passive. We are actively involved with God and Him with us.
Worship is purposeful. Worship is not haphazard. God draws us into worship and we should respond expectantly.
Worship is relational, not just a ritual performed for an aloof diety. It is a 2 way relationship.
Worship is with God. God invented and initiated worship. God is the object of worship, but it is through His power that we are able to worship.
God created you in His own image. He desires to have fellowship with you. He has far more invested in you than you can begin to comprehend and He wants to have a relationship with you. Worship is built on that relationship with God, and is the activity in which you practice that relationship. The relationship is not among equals. The God of the universe is far greater than you and has done far more for you than you can begin to comprehend. Yet, He invites us to be in relationship with Him. So you see that worship is not just something that you do for God, but also something you do along with God.
Even as God calls us into worship, He, in fact, does all of the heavy lifting.
He reveals Himself through scripture, preaching, and music- (sometimes in spite of our best efforts.) He loves, gives grace, brings hope, and offers forgiveness and redemption. He empowers by giving us the gifts, talents and abilities that enable us to relate with Him. He does what we can’t do and brings what we can’t bring.
Since worship is where we practice relationship with God, it is helpful if we can develop some basic structures and standards that will give us direction as to how we go about approaching God in worship. Here are four tenets for worship that I think will help to direct our focus, both for gathered worship and for personal worship. In worship, we:
Praise, honor and adore God
Tune our hearts to God’s heart and listen
Learn, be reminded of, and gratefully remember what God has done,
Respond actively and obediently to God.
Praise, honor and adore God
When we truly love God, we can’t help but to praise Him. The act of praising, honoring, and adoring God helps us maintain proper perspective of the magnificence of who God is in comparison to our unworthiness. It sets the tone for worship and calibrates within us a proper attitude and perspective. God is God and we are not. When we praise, honor, and adore God, we are treating Him with utmost respect. In order to adequately do this we must bring our best to worship- using our emotions, intellect, and will, as well as being well prepared and well rested in order to show our best efforts and talents.
Tune your heart to God’s heart and listen
Listen to God and hear His word for you.
Let Him capture your attention.
Focus on God and align your purposes with His purposes.
Worship is dialogue, so it includes both speaking and listening.
Recognize the majesty of who God is and the breadth of His creation. He created it all and yet He is interested in you.
Worship God with fear and trembling- in awe of His greatness, majesty, power, and love.
Adjust your heart to His heart, listen and obey.
Connect with God’s Heart- He’s reaching out to you.
Learn, be reminded of, and gratefully remember what God has done
We need to be reminded that God is the all-powerful creator of the universe, the Giver of life, and our loving Father.
We need to be reminded that we are made in His image. This instructs us as to how we are to view ourselves as well as how to relate to others, and to His creation.
We need to be reminded of our sin, and that we are sinners, but also reminded of God’s grace and the power of His forgiveness and salvation.
We need to be reminded of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as He took the punishment for our guilt, was victorious over death, and the eternal life that His sacrifice promises.
We need to be reminded of what He is doing, that He is working in our world and in our lives, and of His good gifts and blessings to us.
We need to be reminded of His teachings and of our responsibilities to be faithful to those teachings.
In gathered worship, preaching, teaching, prayer, singing, listening, Bible reading, study, testimonies, meditation, confession, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper are all useful tools through which we learn and are reminded of what God has done.
Respond actively and obediently to God
Authentic worship is not measured by feelings but by actions. The resulting response to the activity of worship is obedience. Respond actively and obediently to God by letting worship overflow into your everyday living- your thoughts, lifestyle, and worldview. Respond obediently by heeding God’s calling on your life. Live by praising, respecting, and admiring God, allowing Him to direct your behavior. Listen to and obey His prompting by following His precepts, and gratefully submitting to His influence. This obedience should lead to evangelism, discipleship, ministry and service, and to your expressing the fruit of the spirit in your daily life. If your obedience is not evident to others, and your life is not being changed, then no matter how much you are enjoying the experience, you are not really worshiping.
Try using these tenets as a checklist as you prepare and evaluate the worship that you plan and lead.