The Heart of Worship #3

Target Practice

Check out Parts 1 and 2 HERE and HERE

A few years ago I heard a worship leader from America, say something that put words to a problem I’d struggled to articulate.

He said that whenever he attends worship leader conferences he hears a lot about how to make worship as enjoyable and as engaging as possible for the people in attendance. The questions would always circle around this area. What to do about the lights, what sort of lyrics to sing, what sort of music to play, how long to go for and so on.

The question is always “What about the people?!”

He wondered why the question is never “What about God?!”

How often do we stop and talk about what God wants in our corporate gatherings when we come to worship Him? How often do we focus ourselves on what pleases Him and not on what the people want?

How often do you leave a corporate worship gathering feeling more in awe of God than when you came in?

How often do you arrive at a corporate worship gathering more eager to give yourself to God than hoping it meets your own expectations or needs?

These are challenging questions but try not to rush past them.

How often do you push passed whatever emotion you are feeling to give Him the praise He is always worthy of even if you leave with the same problems you had when you came in?

Who is our music and our worship aimed at? Who is our target audience?

Punchy questions. This isn’t supposed to be a guilt trip. I know it sounds like one but I feel like this is where we have an issue. These are challenging questions but try not to rush past them.

God is a real person you know.

Think about that. God is a real person. Do you ever feel the awe of His immediate presence when you worship Him? Does it move you at all? Or have you gotten used to it? Or worse yet, have you gotten bored of it?

This is where the current trend worries me most. I once heard someone say that entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy and Psalm 16: 11 says that in God’s presence there is fullness of joy. I’m scared that our lack of real-life experience of God Himself is leading us to need to entertain people when they come to worship Him.

Instead of turning the eyes of our hearts towards Jesus and staring in wonder at the greatness of God, I feel like our attention and focus is turning towards creating a certain kind of feeling or “atmosphere” for the people attending our churches that draws our eyes and hearts away from the One we came to praise…and onto ourselves.

When this happens it gets easier to slip into worshipping God to try and get something from Him. Now I understand that God does minister to us when we meet with Him.

Let’s face it. If you’ve ever been in a gathering where the Lord makes it really clear that He is present (without the need for musical gymnastics and aside from emotionalism) it’s utterly indescribable.

Have you ever been silenced by the majesty of God? Afraid to speak a word in case you dishonoured His holy presence? Afraid to stand in case the weight of His glory was too heavy for your weak knees? Afraid to breathe in case your heart burst from sheer delight?

He answers questions we didn’t know we were asking. He heals hurts deeper than the ones we knew we had. He speaks courage and conviction into our hearts and fills us with faith and hope in His plans for tomorrow.

It’s easy to start pursuing these things instead of Him and still call it worship. It’s also easy to try and manufacture them.

I think this is a huge temptation for church leaders and musicians. I have felt it often enough.

Part 4 is HERE

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