THE DISTRACTIONS FROM WORSHIP
“Leaders of worship can be as much a distraction from worship as they are leaders of it.”
At times, leaders of worship can be as much a distraction from worship as they are leaders of it. What I mean is this; in their attempt to use a bit of humor they take the focus from Christ and place it on the humor. Also by the overly exuberant way a song is lead, too much vocal acrobatics, demonstrating how high one can sing or hold out a note. All of these actions can steal the focus away from our goal of worshipping the risen Savior. This may be done innocently, but the results can be devastating. God says “I will not share my glory with another.” (Isaiah 42:8)
There may be times when it would be more appropriate to just stop directing and sing along, using only one voice to lead the worshipers. They say “silence is golden,” but when it comes to a worship service that rule doesn’t always hold true. Everything needs to “keep moving.” If there is a dead spot, someone will fill it with some dry humor or a random comment meant to break the tension. The Holy Spirit could very well have orchestrated that moment of silence to allow the worshiper to listen to “His still small voice.”
- Let’s not rush through our worship.
“If we are honest, those who claim the high ground on worship issues are often as irreverent as those they criticize. They balk when a controversial preacher suggests we learn from the stand-up comedians as a way to communicate, yet take every opportunity to get a laugh.
- Those who criticize Christian pop singers for being doctrinally light, often have our own cache of choruses and choose songs because they’re peppy rather than worshipful.
- Those who claim to value congregational singing, often hurry through the songs as though the phrase ‘Let’s sing the first and last stanzas’ were part of our creed.
- Those of us who claim the Bible as our authority, far too often give only cursory time to its public reading. We don’t seem to be serious about worship or even about the glorious God Who is its audience.”
“We must do better. When we are privileged to lead in worship, we would do well to imitate the spirit of John the Baptist. We should encourage people to ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ John1:29. We must intentionally decrease so that Christ might increase in worshipers esteem (John 3:30) after all, we’re just groomsmen (John 3:2) at least in our ministerial roles. It’s no more appropriate for us to steal attention away from our Savior than it would be for a best man to interrupt the processional or vows with one-liners. It’s not about us-or at least it shouldn’t be. In short, we need to get out of the way.
Worship is a sacred thing; it’s the reason for which we were created and the reason for which we were redeemed. It demands that we be relentlessly reverent, not just through our music selections but also through our comments and demeanor. May we cultivate a joyful, fervent and expectant spirit among those we lead. May our consciences prevent us from hijacking worshipers’ attention and pain us when we do. Whether praying or preaching, leading songs or leading in prayer, may we serve with such selflessness that all glory will go, not to us but to our Maker and Savior.” (Psalms 95:6)
Excerpt from “Get out of the Way” by Chris Anderson, pastor of Tri-County Bible Church in Madison, OH. Used by permission.
Another distraction to worship can come from the worshipers themselves. Anything from too much movement to snipping one’s fingernails, to snoring through the sermon can distract others from worship. The focus of the worshipers around us is affected and that special moment with the Lord may be missed or even worse, a lost person may be so distracted that they walk out unconverted. Remember “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” (Romans 14:7) We all affect and can be affected by those around us.
Search the Scriptures
1 Thessalonians 2:10
What does this passage have to say about Paul’s behavior among the brethren?
2 Thessalonians 3:7
What does this passage tell us about how we should behave in church?
1 Timothy 3:15
What does this passage tell us about how we should behave ourselves in the house of God?
I have been in many services where the worship leader could not be heard over the “fellowship” going on so that he could begin the worship service. There is a time and place for fellowship, but most of what goes on under the cover of fellowship is really just general conversation. True fellowship centers on the things of God, and what He has done recently in our lives. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” (I John 1:7)
THINK ABOUT IT
1. Is there and commonly accepted decorum in a public gathering?
2. What are they? Think about your cell phone, taking off your hat inside a building, running down the aisle.
3. What are some ways that I can nurture a spirit of worship around me?
4. How can I help to create a more worshipful atmosphere in my church?
5. Are there things that I have done or are doing which distracts from other people worshipping God?
Another distraction from worship can come from the sound system or sound tracks. Occasionally there is feedback, and from time to time a microphone fails, but this is not my main point. It’s when the music of worship is played so loudly that it takes away from worship. We need to step back and reassess how we do ministry so as to enhance worship not distract from it.
The Secret to Worship
I have an aunt who may have stumbled on the secret of worship and not know it (then again she just might). As a member of her church for over 50 years, she has seen many changes. Her traditional church has converted to a contemporary church. The music has changed drastically and though the preaching remains solid, the music is “not my cup of tea,” she says. And despite the fact that many other senior saints have left, she remains true to her church. When asked about her feelings she responds in Christ—like fashion. “I have learned to focus my attention on Jesus no matter how loud or how rhythmic the music gets.” She has learned to focus her attention on the Master not on the waves of distraction lapping at her feet. If you find yourself in a church service that isn’t your “cup of tea” try applying my aunt’s approach, focus on Jesus. You might surprise yourself and find yourself worshipping!