By Dwayne Moore
Worship services are made up of people. I know that’s not news; it’s obvious. Yet, how often do we overlook this important detail? Most of us would like to take our services up a notch or two. But we tend to focus on things like newer songs and cooler lights and stage sets, in hopes these will prompt our folks to worship better. We hire talented worship leaders and invest lots of money in externals. All these things can be good, mind you, but none of them really cause worship to happen. Think about it. Worship’s not something we can muster up or generate on the outside, if it’s not first taking place on the inside…of people.
I agree with those who teach worship is best experienced in a corporate setting with other Christians. However, you and I both know that just because someone attends a worship service doesn’t necessarily mean that person is actually worshiping. Worship doesn’t “rub off” on us from those around us. Worship starts on the inside of a person. Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 ESV). Worship that’s acceptable to God is spiritual in nature. Our spirit communes with His Spirit who initiates the worship in us.
Psalm 45:1 says, “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king” (ESV). Praise can be defined as the “bubbling over of a hot heart.” Imagine what could happen if more in your church had a “hot heart” for God, because they worshiped Him with their lives every day. Let’s say, for example, during a weekend service you sing the hymn, Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus. To some in the room, that might be nothing more than another old song. On the other hand, those who had actually trusted in Jesus throughout the week could immediately identify with those lyrics and think, “Yes, it is sweet to trust in Him! I’ve experienced it for myself!” The simple truth of that song could ignite the worship that’s already simmering in their hearts. It wouldn’t matter to them whether it was an old song or a new song. It might not even matter how well it was being sung and led. They would want to join in and sing it with fervor as personal praise to their God. Talk about taking your corporate worship to a new level!
So, if worship begins inside each of us individually, then doesn’t it make sense to do all we can to encourage our congregations to personally worship God? The late A. W. Tozer famously said worship “is the missing jewel in modern evangelicalism.”1 At first glance, it would seem many of our churches today have embraced that jewel. Yet, in large part we’re keeping it to ourselves. We display worship from the platform, but are we really sharing the jewel of true worship with our congregations? Or to put it more precisely, are we teaching our people to offer acceptable worship in their daily lives–after the stage lights go dark and the music fades?
Part 1 of the series: Building Strong Worship Leaders