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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Discipleship and Worship

Would it make a difference in our churches if, as part of the discipling of new believers, we invested a significant time in teaching a biblical understanding of worship?

This question has been front and center in my mind recently, and I find myself mulling over its implications. I realize that there are many really good materials already in existence designed to help new believers in their daily walk. Many of these actually incorporate some basics of worship as part of the material on how to have a daily devotional time with God. I praise the Lord for them, but what I am talking about is a little more in depth. We tell new believers, and even those who are well established in church life, that worship is important. We encourage them to worship daily and to participate in corporate worship, but do we tell them how to do it and show them what it looks like?

Once someone accepts Christ as Savior and Lord, we must bring them along side another believer to help them learn how to have a daily walk with the Lord, to learn how to begin to discover for themselves the riches of God’s Word and how to pray; to help them become part of a local body of believers and be nourished in fellowship and encouragement; to help them learn to discern how Satan beguiles us with temptations; to help them learn the importance of daily surrender of the will, surrender of goals, to seek His direction, to give and to realize that part of the mandate of a relationship with Christ is to carry the Gospel to every tongue in every land. We must teach them. We have to. Not to disciple a new believer is like having a baby and leaving it in the kitchen to learn to feed himself. We must do these things.

As part of these essentials of the faith, shouldn’t we include a biblical understanding of what worship is and is not? Shouldn’t we include how to prepare for worship, both personal and corporate? Shouldn’t we show them how and model worship for them?

What would happen if we did include such training? Is it possible that we could raise up a generation of believers that base their worship experience on an obedient response to God and not emotions? Is it possible that we could raise a generation that is not dependent on a specific style of music, because worship has been confused with what is being sung? Would it be possible to raise a generation of believers that does not confuse entertainment and worship?

I think the worship wars could have been avoided in part, entirely, if years ago a deep overall understanding of what worship is and is not had been taught. As I look back at many of the worship controversies in church history, many of them might even have been avoided. Biblical worship unifies and brings together. One of the reasons that Rehoboam placed the golden calves at either end of the newly divided kingdom was to keep the ten tribes from returning to Jerusalem to worship, because he feared that worship would reunite the people. The picture of worship in heaven is people from every tribe and nation [multicultural] and all ages [multigenerational] around the Lamb on His throne [one central focus]. Worship in the church should be much like the spokes on a wheel, different yet all connected to the hub; true unity in diversity.

Worship is too important to hope that somehow new Christians will learn what to do, or that it is enough to tell people that they need to do it. Including the practical aspects of worship as part of discipleship would help us develop a more holistic approach in training new believers and aid in the stopping the spiral of dissension and splitting that has been so pervasive in our past. I firmly believe that when we get both our heads and our hearts right about worship, we will see both the growth in outreach and growth in unity among the members.

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