In this verse we see six principles regarding corporate worship at work . One, it should be word based. Two, worship should be participatory.
Three, worship should be more than one dimensional, containing Psalms,
hymns, and spiritual songs. Four, it should be jointly edifying. Five,
it should be God directed. Six, it should come out of a thankful heart.
1. On being word based, the
word of God is the truth, and we know from John 4:23-24 that those who worship Him must worship Him in truth; so if we want to worship God in truth, the
foundation of our worship should be His word. It should dwell richly in
us so as to guide our worship, and be sung in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Additionally, it should not be a hodge podge of biblical snippets, or contain vague spiritual references, or substitute euphemisms for biblical terms. It is amazing how many of the songs (contemporary and old) have very little theology, or poor theology, or contain false teaching. To borrow a phrase from Francis Schaeffer, the lyrics we sing must be true truth. There is a didactic (teaching) component of worship that speaks to the heart through the mind. When this occurs worship becomes powerful and personal.
being participatory, the pronouns you and your in this verse are
plural, so this is something that all that are gathered together should
be doing. So it should not be observatory, but participatory. Any style
or methodology of worship that prevents or hinders the joint
participation of the gathered believers should be eliminated. Now this
does not rule out solos, etc., but corporate worship is just that,
corporate worship; and the style and methodology should promote and
encourage corporate participation.
3. On being more than
one dimensional, there is a richness and balance in the types and styles
of songs, and this balance should be part of the corporate worship
experience. It will cover all aspects from the richness of deep
theology to soul stirring melodies, from contemporary choruses to ancient hymns. It should take us from the depths
of love to the heights of joy while covering everything in between.
being jointly edifying, as we sing His word together we are teaching
and admonishing one another. There is an edifying power, and an edifying
and correcting effect on each other as we sing together or are sung to by soloists,
etc. The word put to music will not return empty or void without
accomplishing all that God desires, and He desires for us to play our
part in the dissemination of His word.
5. On being God
directed, as this is the most important of all the principles. All
worship should be God directed. It should be about God, focused on God,
taking our attention away from ourselves and focusing it on God...His
greatness, His majesty, His power, His love, His care, His grace, His
provision, His salvation, His faithfulness, His mercy, and all that He is and all
that He does. I am reminded of the song, "It Is Well With My Soul",
this song is so God focused and was written at a time of great tragedy
in the life of the writer. Much like the Psalms, in the middle of
lament the focus is still on the Lord. Our coming together for worship
is a time for us to corporately present ourselves and our sacrifice of
praise to God Himself before His throne in midst of what is happening in
our life. It should be a transcendent time in the presence of God for
all who are gathered together no matter their circumstances.
6. On being thankful. A thankful heart will be a worshiping heart, a praising heart, a God glorifying heart, and a Christ exalting heart. It is impossible to really worship without being thankful. Praise, real praise, flows out of thanksgiving, and in praising God for all that He is and all that He does, He is glorified. Thankfulness is a hallmark of true Christianity, and is a key foundational element of worship. The more thankful we are the more sincere our praise, and the more sincere our praise the richer our worship.
When these six principles are followed, corporate worship can never be dull or boring, can never be rote; but will always minister to the Lord, and, in turn, bless us.
O, church, whom are
you pleasing? A good question, and a question that every church leader
and every church member should ask themselves. Healthy and honest
introspection is good. It is good to ask yourself hard questions about
yourself. It is good to have a season of self-examination. This is
true also for the church, and it should be done by its leaders and its members.
There is a slogan/saying/catch phrase that I have heard and read over the last
few years, and it is in context of "doing church." It is,
"It is not about me." Now this is used to mean that the church
service is not for church members, but for those whom the church is trying to
reach...the seekers, the unconverted, the non-christian.. It is used as a
reason or excuse for the church doing what it feels is necessary to reach the
unchurched. It is the undergirding of the philosophy that drives how the
church conducts itself, and in particular how it conducts its Sunday services.
Even though it is true that church is "not about me," the application
of this truth has been misplaced. It has become "it is all about
them," which refers to the unconverted and unchurched. What has been
missed here? It is simply this: it is not about me, nor about us,
nor even about them....it is about God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Holy
We have taken the focus in our churches off of God, and placed it onto those
who are ungodly. We have ceased focusing on pleasing God, and are now striving
in every way imaginable (and there is great imagination used) to
please those who are enemies of God. When God gives the command in
Hebrews to not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, He did not mean
for the church to come together so as to focus on those outside of its self, to
focus on anyone other than Him. The minute that the church starts trying
to entice the unbeliever, it must start seeking to please the unbeliever in
order to draw him or her in; and must conduct its service so as to please them
in order to bring them back.
The hard question the church (its leaders and members) must ask its self is
this, "In the way we conduct our services have we placed pleasing the
ungodly over pleasing God; in our attempts to not offend the ungodly are we
offending God; in our attempts to attract the ungodly have we made ourselves
unattractive to God?" Has the church placed its affection and
adoration on the ungodly and taken it off of the Lord? This is a question
that I am afraid is not getting asked.
Here are a smattering of Scriptures that speak to this. Notice how
unimportant man is in these references.
Isaiah 2:22 Stop
regarding man, whose breath of life in in his nostrils; for why should he be
why regard man if there is no area, no arena, in which he can be esteemed in
God's eyes?) Isaiah 40:17 All the
nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than
nothing and meaningless. (O
church, even the nations are nothing compared against the great and mighty God
who has given us life, breath, and all things!) Psalm 144:3-4 O Lord,
what is man, that you take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You
think of him? Man is like a mere breath; his days are like a fleeting
shadow. (O church, have
you elevated man above where God has him? Have you elevated man above
God?) I Corinthians 7:3 You
were bought with a price; do not become the slaves of men.(O church, whom do you cater to?) I Corinthians 8:6a yet
for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist
for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we exist
through Him. ( O church, for whom are you existing?) II Corinthians 5:9
Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be
pleasing to Him.(O church, is
your highest ambition to please Him?) I Thessalonians 2:4
But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we
speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. (Church leaders and members, if God
examines your heart to see whom you are seeking to please, what would He find?) Galatians 1:10 For am
I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men?
If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of
Christ. (O church,
have you become the bond-servant/slave of the ungodly by trying to please them?
And in trying to do so have you left your first love and fallen to a
lesser spiritual state?) Leviticus 10:1-3 Now
Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after
putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire
before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from
the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then
Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the Lord spoke, saying, 'By those who
come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be
honored.'" (O church, by
seeking to please the ungodly have you neglected to treat the Lord as holy
before them? In seeking to be attractive to men have you substituted
honoring men over honoring the Lord?) “It is to be feared that thousands are selling Jesus for a less price than
Judas received.A smile from the world
has been a bribe sufficient to seduce many”
In the final analysis, there is only One to please. As His body the
church is to be a God-pleaser not a man-pleaser (Galatians 1:10)
Instead of trying to be pleasing to the ungodly the church should be
teaching them what is required to please the Lord (Ephesians 5:10). O church, remember that it is the Lord Christ whom you
serve, not man (Colossians 3:24). O church, examine yourself honestly
and rigorously, and make sure you are living to please Him, for it is Him for
whom you exist.
Consistency, sounds pretty boring doesn't it? And, actually, many times it is. However, when considering traits that should be present in pastors and spiritual leaders, this is usually one of the most overlooked.
There should be a consistency of character, a consistency of philosophy, a consistency of theology, a consistency of mission, a consistency in his walk, a consistency in his preparation, a consistency in his growth, a consistency in how he makes decisions, a consistency in how he deals with others, a consistency in how he communicates, and a consistency in how he expresses himself. In other words, there needs to be a thread of consistency that permeates who he is, and therefore what he does.
Why is this important? Because it gives stability to his church, and his ministry. It gives security to his people, his staff, and the leadership he works with, as it make him reliable, and even predictable. I once had an upper level manager tell me that his goal was to be so consistent that his people would know the answer before they asked him. Not a bad trait, in fact, it is a great trait to have. Unfortunately, there are many whose only consistency is their inconsistency.
Think about the comfort and security it gives to those who you work with, do ministry with, and live with when they know they can depend on what they know about you. Think about the frustration that is caused by having to deal with those whom you never know how they will react, or those who always seem to be changing their mind, ministry direction, or ministry philosophy. Think about the confusion that comes to the church when the leadership is always being blown in the direction of the latest cultural wind or chasing the next big thing.
Have you ever noticed how consistent the Lord is? We call it immutability or unchangeableness; but have you ever wondered what it would be like to serve a Lord that you were never sure how He was going to react, how He wanted to be worshiped, what His standards for holiness would be, or what His requirements for salvation would be? Would it be a little unnerving, kind of like an eternal insecurity instead of an eternal security?
I take great comfort that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, yes and forever (Hebrews 13:8); that He, the Lord, does not change His mind, and therefore I am not consumed (Malachi 3:6); that with Him there is no variation or change like the imperceptible shifting of a shadow (James 1:7); that even from eternity He is I am (Isaiah 43:13), that of old He founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of His hands. Even they will perish, but He will endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing He will change them and they will be changed. But He is the same, and His years will not come to an end (Psalm 102:25-27); that His lovingkindness is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him (Psalm 103:17); that He has one eternal purpose that runs through the ages that is carried out in Christ (Ephesians 3:11), and that He has declared the end from the beginning, saying, "My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure" (Isaiah 46:10). This consistency in the character of God and the acts of God give me security in my relationship with him, it gives me confidence in my relationship with Him, and it strengthens and solidifies my trust in Him.
You see, I believe that pastors and spiritual leaders must be consistent; and it is being like the Lord that brings about that consistency. If He is consistent, then a worthy trait to be desired would be to be consistent as He is consistent. The same comfort, confidence, security, solidity, and trust that we draw from our relationship with the Lord because of His consistency is the same comfort, confidence, security, solidity, and trust that the church and its staff should have in their leadership. Consistency provides the stability that is needed in every leader, and is a key component of pastoral leadership. As Christ models consistency, so should all those in spiritual leadership. Indeed, it is a worthy aspiration for us all.
there is so much in this verse, but let's look at one particular aspect of it,
and that is Paul's faithfulness. Reading through Acts and Paul’s letters,
the one thing that really stands out about Paul is his faithfulness. If you
think about this in relation to what the Lord told Ananias inActs
9:16that He would show Paul how much he must suffer for His
name's sake, you come away with a deep-breathed wow; because here was a man who
was shown up front how much the cost would be, and he counted it (Luke 14:27-35), lived
it (IICorinthians 1:2-7; 2:4; 4:7-12; 6:3-10, 7:5-6), and remained faithful to the end (II Timothy 4:5-7).
question might be asked, "Faithful to who, faithful to what?"
Obviously, Paul was faithful to his calling, faithful to his ministry,
faithful to his friends, faithful to keep his vows, faithful with the treasure
with which he had been entrusted, and faithful to the churches. But his
being faithful in all of these areas was the outflow of his faithfulness to the
Lord, his Lord; and he never wavered in his faithfulness to the One who had
called him to suffer for His name. Even with his great learning, the
great revelations he had been given, and his great gifting- his greatest
attribute was his faithfulness. Without his faithfulness, his calling and
all the learning, revelations, and gifting would have been for naught.
Paul understood this and you can see this inICorinthians
is manifested in many ways in our lives, and manifested it will be. In
thinking about what are the really necessary qualities in a pastor this has to
be at the top. It is nice if he is a good communicator, a gifted
expositor, good with people, dynamic, personable, a good leader, educated,
caring, and charismatic. But, again, without faithfulness all these
qualities and gifts will be of no use. Faithfulness grounds the pastor,
keeps him steady when tempted, keeps him loyal to his calling, strengthens him
when tried, keeps him going when discouraged, keeps him looking to the Lord and
not his circumstances, guards him from compromise, gives him a higher
perspective on his life and ministry, pushes and pulls and prods him on when
weary, keeps his focus on the Lord and not himself, sees him through the storms
of life and ministry, empowers him to endure, and keeps him from looking for
greener pastoral pastures. Faithfulness keeps him locked in on following
the Lord and His will for his life. In thinking about it...wouldn't you
want to see this in your pastor if you were a church member, wouldn't you want
to see this in your servant if you were the Lord?
regarded Paul as faithful, and therefore placed him into service; not any
service, mind you, but maybe the most important role of any of the apostles,
certainly the most demanding role, and obviously a strategic role. And in that
strange and mysterious dynamic of God working in and through men, the Lord
strengthened Paul to remain faithful as Paul was being faithful.
If we are
honest, we would all admit that the struggle we have with faithfulness is
whether we are going to be faithful to the Lord and His will, or be faithful to
ourselves and our own selfish and egotistical pursuits. Which one will we
be faithful to?
Pastors and partakers of the pastoral calling, I
want to encourage you to be faithful. Be faithful to the Lord in the
living out of your calling, and call on him to keep you faithful; and in your
faithfulness you will find Him faithful to you.