For the remainder of 2019, we are going on a journey in WORSHIP. Through much prayer, study, reflection and conversation, I’ve hammered out two goals that we can aim for on this journey. Here they are:
To become worshipers who respond to our holy and gracious God with adoration and action, through the power of the gospel. (Life worship)
The first goal has to do with our individual lives. Worship is what life is all about. Every human is a worshiper at heart. We are made to give glory to something or someone. The priority for Christians is that our whole lives give glory to God—because he is the only one truly worthy. Worship is about responding to God’s holiness and grace, through Christ, by the power of the Spirit, with all of who we are: our minds, emotions, and wills, our work and play, our relationships, and yes, in our songs and prayers on Sunday morning.
Jesus said that the Father is seeking “true worshipers” who “worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). How can we become these kind of worshipers? What does it mean to worship in the Spirit and in truth? My preaching this year will attempt to answer those questions. I believe that in order to worship God rightly, we need to see God in his beauty, we need a deep understanding of the gospel, and we need to deal with the idols in our lives that drain worship away from God.
To design worship services that are gospel-shaped, that engage our hearts, and that draw on all our gifts. (Gathered worship)
The second goal moves from the individual to the collective. The worship practices that we engage in on Sunday mornings are very important. When we gather as the body of Christ, many important things are (or should be) accomplished. We encounter God in a special way. We encourage one another in the faith. We are reminded, refreshed, and re-oriented. Over time, our hearts and minds are formed according to the gospel. Gathered worship is precious and vital.
For this reason, we will spend time this year reflecting on our Sunday morning gathering. Why do we do the things we do? What should be changed, or kept the same? What new worship practices can we adopt? As we ask these questions, I want us to be guided by three priorities. First, that our worship services are gospel-shaped—meaning that the flow of worship every week tells the story of the gospel and is centered on Christ: God is holy / We are sinners / Jesus saves us / Jesus sends us on mission.
Second, our worship should engage our hearts. Worship should not be a passive experience, but one in which each worshiper is fully engaged. We will draw on a wider range of worship practices and find the ones that help us fully enter into worship.
Third, our worship should find ways to engage all our gifts. To an extend, we already do this: people serve as greeters, Scripture readers, mic-carriers, communion servers, musicians, singers. In the New Testament, worship gatherings look more like pot-lucks than lectures. Everyone brings something to contribute.
Most importantly, I pray that God would do His work of renewal in all our hearts, which would overflow into renewed worship as a church. May our lives might offer up one continual refrain, “Oh Sing, my Soul!”
Would you join me in praying for this?