I’ve heard a variety of opinions about Faith Church’s worship service over the years. Maybe you’ve heard similar sentiments about your church’s worship. “We should be more liturgical.” “We should be more traditional.” “We should be more contemporary.” “We should be more professional…” including the suggestion that we hire instrumentalists. Lot of opinions. Often they conflict.
Our worship serve team has thoroughly studied, prayed and discussed these opinions numerous times, and we have come to the conclusion that worship that God desires flows from worshipers who have humble, teachable hearts. Humble worshipers say, “God, I come to worship you, not thinking that I have worship figured out, not thinking that I have to worship in my preferred way, but instead I come to worship you as a learner of worship. Teach me God how you want me to worship you.”
As a result, Faith Church has attempted to add experimentation and creativity into worship. We want it to be participatory rather than professional. While we strive for excellence, we also give grace. We rise above our personal preferences and opinions, seeking to know God and become more like him. We do not want to be idolaters of false worship.
Therefore, we seek to learn about worship from a variety of Christian traditions. There are many Christians who practice a high liturgy. Some Christians emphasize silence. There are megachurches, house churches, online churches and churches of all shapes and sizes. All of them have potential pros and cons that we can learn from as we think about how we worship God when we gather. But God must be the focus. Every time we gather for ritual worship, just like we do every Sunday, we pray, “Lord, help me learn to worship you, to keep you as the focus.”
This is why, over the years, we’ve worked hard at Faith Church to make sure God is the focus of our worship services. But really, that is exterior work. By exterior, I mean the way the sanctuary looks, the songs we sing, the style of music, the audio, the visuals, the preaching, the other elements of worship. They are all important, and they should all help to focus us on God.
But the more vital work that needs to be done is in our hearts and minds. God often says to the Israelites that he despises their outward worship, even when that worship looked correct, because he did not have their hearts. What we studied this week, Ezekiel 6, made that very clear. Obviously, the people had not given their hearts and minds to God because they were willing to give their hearts and minds to false idol worship!
This, then, is a call for us to examine our hearts and minds, asking God to help us cast away any opinions that might be getting in the way of us worshiping him and him alone.
Finally, we can Christians can worship Christian celebrity. In the first post in this series, mentioned Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll. Think about the Christian authors, singers, podcasters or TV preachers that you follow. Be careful that your heart and mind worships God and not those Christian celebrities. Of course, other Christians, including the celebrities can help point us to God, including how to live more faithfully to him. But, frankly, too often a Christian celebrity becomes larger than life in our minds because they tell us what we want to hear. They believe what we believe, and in a world of many competing beliefs, we find great comfort in having our beliefs affirmed. The problem again, though, is that those beliefs are so often just opinions. The celebrities don’t point that out, though, because their celebrity status relies on popularity, on gaining followers who support their ministries and purchase their products, so they tend to play to and affirm the opinions of their base, telling them that those opinions are actually the truth. That is dangerous, and so often leads to false worship.
Do you need to repent? Do you need a person like Ezekiel in your life to examine your opinions and confront you that those opinions are not actually keeping worship of God as primary in your life? Have you allowed your opinions about worship to become idolatry?