In this day and age, with so many variations of worship, we need to stop and examine why we do what we do in light of Scripture.
Why do we worship?
I quote Tommy Walker, “How quickly we forget what it’s all about. We can get so strategic that we worship so our church will grow, not because He is worthy. But we’re doing all this because God is worthy and we want to worship Him.”
- Have you ever asked yourself what are we trying to accomplish in our public worship services?
- Have you noticed, as I have, over the last 60 years of worship in the United States of America that our worship style has diverged into two categories? There is Man–centered and God–centered worship.
Search the Scripture. What did the Apostle Paul tell us in Galatians 1:10?
“Do I now persuade men, or God? Do I seek to please men? Because if I seek to please men, I cease be the servant of Christ.”
Paul had to settle the question of being a man pleaser or God pleaser before he could effectively minister in his day.
What to Avoid
- Avoid the trends of the day.
In our attempt to be a People-focused ministry, many churches have unknowingly have moved from a God–centered focus to a Man–centered form of worship. In such cases the leadership of these churches needs to take decisive action. The Apostle John warned the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-5, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”
Churches need to be primarily focused on meeting the spiritual, and secondarily focused on the physical needs of the community, and not lose sight of the objective of worship.
- Avoid the business model of leadership, which tends to be man-centered.
I have been in churches either as a staff member or as a visitor and it was obvious who was running the show. In some cases it was the pastor with an “it’s my way or the highway” philosophy of ministry or a key leader in the church whose ego had to be stroked. In either case, it’s a hindrance to a God–focused, God-centered ministry. The Apostle John addressed the same when he said, “I wrote unto the church, but Diotrephes, who loved to have the preeminence among them, received us not.” (III John 9)
An observation – Man–centered ministries have the tendency to be Market-centered or focused on gathering larger and larger crowds.
What did Jesus say was the purpose in gathering together in his house…“And (Jesus) said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise.” (John 2:16)
Consider this prophetic scripture being fulfilled in this present day … “And through covetousness they shall use deceptive words in order to make merchandise of you.” (II Peter 2:3)
Admittedly, the objective of Market-centered worship is evangelism. However, one would be hard pressed to find chapter and verse for such an approach. Churches that have adopted a Man–centered style of worship tend to have an “it’s all about me” approach.
Some churches tend to be either Method-centered or Music–centered.
- The Method-centered church seems to always have a big push going on. There is nothing wrong with evangelism and having a special emphasis from time to time. But remember what our Lord said: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mathew 16:18)
- The Music-centered church tends to depend on the Choir, the Praise Team, the Quartet or Soloists to fill the auditorium. I have actually been hired and served in a church where I was expected to raise my salary in increased offerings within six months. What does that say about the philosophy and purpose of that ministry? The answer is obvious.
Today Pop musicians are called: “Artists.” Many worship services wouldn’t be complete without the sound track, special lighting, and state–of–the art sound systems, choreography, special graphics and drama.
“The problem with Man–centered worship is that it is Man–centered.”
It’s like the story of the old cow that saw a billboard saying: “Homogenized, pasteurized and enriched with vitamin D,” and said to her fellow cow, “Kinda makes you feel unnecessary.”
After the show put on by some music ministries, it makes one wonder if the preacher feels that same way.
In some churches, not all, but in some the preacher has had to resort to “Positive Thinking,” or “Health and Wealth,” messages and even some “New Age Philosophy” to maintain the crowds. Such Man–centered churches have brought in the world along with Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts. In its pursuit to remain relevant it has become powerless and saltless. All we have accomplished with this type of worship is that we have deluded ourselves and deceived the world.
Search the Scriptures. What does the Bible say about the purpose of worship?
- The objective of worship is to point all the praise and glory to our God the Lord Jesus Christ.
“We only learn to behave ourselves in the presence of God.” – C. S. Lewis
- In the succeeding study we will elaborate on what God–centered worship looks like and how it is to be conducted.
- With a firm understanding of true God-centered worship, we then will have the foundation to move into the dynamics and dimensions of worship.
“When God’s people begin to praise and worship Him using the Biblical methods He gives, the Power of His presence comes among His people in an even greater measure.” – Graham Truscott