the focus of worship in the Church

1 05 2007

What is our worship focused on?  You can apply this question to church services, as well as to each day of your life.  In this article, I’d like to discuss some of the trends in worship in church, starting with this quote :

When the focus of worship shifts away from God to the worshipper, it ceases to be worthy.  When worshippers are more impressed or impacted by the worship experience than by the glory and majesty of God, something is dangerously amiss.  It is time for the church to return to authentic worship that is biblical rather than cultural or experiential — worship that leaves us awed and transformed more than entertained and satiated. ~ Dr. Sam Horn

That can be difficult to maintain, because we want to offer our best praise and worship to God.  I think the Church should have the best music and the best singing, because God certainly deserves the best we can offer.  However, in seeking after what is “best”, we can end up choosing what we think is best, rather than what God likes best.  I sometimes struggle with this, being a musician on the praise team at my church, because I want us to do our best from a musical standpoint.  The Bible tells us to “play skillfully”.  But the most important element in leading worship is that we’re anointed.  And from the standpoint of worshipping, the most important aspect is the condition of our heart toward God.  (By the way, God has prescribed how we should worship.)

When we’re participating in praise and worship during a church service, the focus should be on God.  If we’re more impressed with the presentation of the worship — the singing, instrumentation, song selection, video on the screens, smoke machines, waterfalls, flashing lights, dancing, etc. — then we’ve missed the whole point.  (Thankfully, my church doesn’t have all that extra stuff, but some churches do.)  I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to have a great “presentation” by the praise team, but we must do our best to keep the focus on God and not our “entertainment”.  Our society is very focused on entertainment, sometimes requiring it.

If your church took away all the fancy elements of the “presentation” for a month, would it hinder your worship?  If the only music was just a piano or an acoustic guitar, would that matter?  What if the songs were only hymns, or only choruses?  What if there was no music?  What if the video screens weren’t used?  It shouldn’t make a difference in our worship before God.  Let me say again that I’m not against using technology to enhance our worship — I really like technology — but we must be very careful that we aren’t just “entertaining” people instead of leading them in worship.  I’m afraid that we’re becoming conditioned to all the excitement of modern worship services and thus becoming dependent on it.  Having a great service shouldn’t be defined by how much we enjoyed it but rather by us meeting with God and being changed.

I think we should use technology and offer our best before God, but we must make sure that the focus is on the glory and majesty of God.  I don’t want my church to be known just for having great music and/or great sermons and/or friendly people — I want our reputation to be that God meets with people there, in such a real way that no one can deny it.

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