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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

How do we guard ourselves as leaders from the entertainment mindset, and how do we teach our congregations to do the same?

I would like to take this and answer a question asked on the blog yesterday:

I greatly appreciate your article, [worship and entertainment]  especially the attention you gave to the tendency we have to begin focusing on the benefits of worship as opposed to the obedience of worship. We say things like, "Man, God really showed up in worship today," but how often do we simply say this because of the emotions provoked within us by the sermon or the music, and is our assumption at that point that God has not "shown up" at other gatherings where our emotions weren't tickled? How do we guard ourselves as leaders from that mindset, and how do we teach our congregations to do the same?

I would like to thank Tyler for his sensitivity to the situation in which we find ourselves. I believe we could spend a book on that questions alone, but let me try to propose a few things:

1. We must really learn and practice biblical worship ourselves: we don't invite people to where we have not been ourselves. It is easy to talk about, but not consistently practice. We must honestly evaluate what we do on Sunday or whenever to see if we are worshiping. One of the most difficult things I do as a Worship Leader is worship because I get too involved in everything else that has to happen in the service, sound, instruments, etc. I literally find myself having to stop and re-focus. It is not a simple thing for me, perhaps for most as well, to maintain an awareness of what needs to be done and at the same time that awareness of God’s presence in the service.

2. We must teach biblical worship to the congregation, perhaps in bits and pieces, but it must be repeated and reinforced. Hearing something one time is not enough; we must repeat it week after week and aid them by showing and explaining how it all fits together. For example, just as a small beginning: Rather than saying, "We know worship is all about Jesus, so we're just going to stop thinking about everything else and think about Him," is about as effective as telling someone not to think about pink elephants--that's all they will think about. It would be better to just lead in prayer directed to Christ, not trying to preach through the prayer, but focused prayer and adoration to the Son of God. We never stop teaching and we never stop learning.

3. Knowing that the Spirit of God lives in us is fact enough to know that the Spirit is in a service; I believe the bigger issue is that because of our distracted nature, we are not aware or paying attention to the fact that He is there in us and among us. God speaks; the issue is not that God is not speaking, but that we are not able to hear. [The chapter on Isaiah 6 in Worship HeartCries deals with this, which is much to long for this post.]

4. We need to learn to change the measure of our worship experience from our feeling to more by our  obedience and sensitivity to God's direction and leadership in our lives.  If we are not immersing ourselves in the Word every day, meditating, memorizing, spending time with the Father, how will we recognize His voice on Sunday? Worship becomes the natural obedient response to God as He reveals Himself in His Word. We can celebrate His grace and goodness in the service, but it must stem from regular fellowship and intimate time with God, not drummed up emotion from the rhythm and music.

5. I would add more element under teaching worship: Find another person in which you will invest time, over a cup of coffee, pizza, walking, etc., but invest in a regular time together to pray, share struggles, to share what God is teaching you about worship.  Worship leadership is taught and caught; it is not an either/or option.

I hope this has been helpful.


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