Over the last few years the worship team has strived to make sure as many people are ministered to by the service as possible, from those who connect best with the old hymns to those who have gospel music deep in their soul, to those who are in step with the latest praise songs they sing on their morning commutes. It’s really hard to accommodate everyone, but it is my sincere desire that we support each other in our mutual effort to worship our God.
But recently I have received some complaints. In considering this feedback I realized that while I have tried to communicate any changes we have made, and I have believed we are getting enough feedback as we go along, I have not made the effort to communicate WHY we make changes. Why our worship service is the way it is. This song or that song, this style or that style, doesn’t make much of a difference to me personally. When I think about worship, and lead the way in worship for our church, I follow my own set of rules that have nothing to do with style or tempo. Worship can be very cultural, but all of these “rules” supersede any cultural decisions a church may make. These are the things I believe deep in my core. These are my non-negotiables.
My rules for worship?
- Sing to the LORD a new song. Worship must be fresh, because we must be fully present when we worship God. This doesn’t mean you have to sing new songs all the time. But if your routines are lulling you into a comfortable pattern, it might be time for a new approach. A new song. Bring something new to the sanctuary – God is worth the effort.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD all the earth.
- God hears the heart. There’s a whole sermon series in this one verse, but let’s just say for now that God knows the truth of what is in your heart, and does not care how well you can hit that high note. You may feel like you’re hiding, tucked back in that pew, but He sees you just as if you’re singing all alone, twirling ‘round on a mountaintop with your arms stretched out.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
- Take it seriously. This doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. It doesn’t mean you have to be super-religious about everything. It means you are standing before the creator of the universe. How you approach Him does matter. The feeling we’re going for is “awe.”
Hebrews 12:28, 29
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
- Give of your very best. Everything you are is a sacrifice in worship to God. He’s not asking for what the church expects of you. He’s asking for much more. He’s asking for absolutely everything you are capable of giving.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
- It’s okay to go big. We’re worshiping the creator of all the noises. He likes our noises when they are used to praise him with deep joy. Any instrument that is available and any style of music. Not everything for every church. We have to find our own “right” way, which may be itself a noisy process involving lots of opinions, but we should do that together – in love.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
Praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
Praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
To be very clear here, I am NOT asking for support of any instrument or any music style. The worship team doesn’t need encouragement, or discouragement, or anything in-between. We will do what is best for our congregation as a whole, under the leadership of the current minister, mindful of our history, our liturgy and discipline, but looking toward a hopeful future that includes new faces and new perspectives.
But I want to hear from you. When do you worship best? What brings you the closest to God during a service? What can we do more of, or less of, to help more people find a moment alone with their Creator amidst the crowd?