Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Worship and the Word

I was in our Sunday morning worship service this last week and thanked God for two things - pastors who engages in worship and for musicians who engage in God's Word.  Believe it or not, these two don't exist in a lot of churches.  And if we are not careful, they won't exist in ours.  I was at a church conference last year with several major church pastors there (you know the kind with 10,000 members and best-selling books).  I know, I know, I  should have been worshipping during the worship time but I couldn't help but watch the pastors who were present.  I was shocked.  People everywhere were lifing hands and engaging in worship but not the pastors.  Some sat, some talked to each other, some were on their phones and computers, some were not even in the service until time to speak.  I couldn't believe that my greatest models didn't engage during the worship times.  I'm so thankful that my pastor lifts his hands higher and sings louder than anyone else around him not just because he is a model to the congregation but because he knows he is a worshipper of the Living God. 

I also noticed something else about the praise teams that were there that day - most of them did not come back into the services to hear the message after the worship time.  Those who did failed to bring a Bible, notepad and pen so that they could engage in the scriptures the pastors were teaching on.  This, sadly, is common place among most musicians.  They went back into their "green room" instead of being under the Word. 

Let me start by saying a few things about the musicians needing to engage in the pastor's message.  I'm a musician so I can talk to you straight.   When you don't bring your bible, take notes, and listen intently so you can apply it to your life, you dishonor your pastor who has been preparing all week to share God's Word.  Basicly, you are just doing a cover gig for the main performer - after your gig is up, your done for the night.  This is not a gig.  This is not a garage band.  This is not a hobby.  It is worship - which really has nothing to do with your instrument but it has to do with your heart.   It is also a bigger issue than honoring your pastor - it is respecting and honoring God's Word.  God's Word and worship go hand-in-hand.  You cannot separate the two.  Before you learned your skill and talent as a musician, God created you as a worshipper.  This is foremost done through reading, listening to, applying and obeying the Word.  God's Word is what shows us Who we worship.  If we can't learn who He is, how can we lead others into His presence in worship? 

Set aside the thoughts of what you are playing after the preaching, transitions, new songs, mistakes in the worship time and pick up the word - follow with an intensity that screams "I LOVE THE LORD OF MY BIBLE!"  If you pick up your instrument more than you pick up the Word you have got things out of balance.  If you know more worship songs than you do Bible verses you have got things out of balance.  You have to get in the Word daily.  It would be better not to practice your instrument all week and be in the Word every day than playing your instrument every day and never getting in the Word all week.  You cannot lead people where you have not been.  How can you lead the full measure of songs like "You Saved The Day" if you don't know scriptures like John 11:25-26, Romans 6:8-11, Philippians 3:10-12, and Mark 16:1-8?  Then, you are not just singing a man's words of a song - you are singing the very words and doctrine of Scripture - how powerful is that!!!  Worship the God who gave you that talent and ability by getting to know Him.  Get outside your instrument for a while and engage in the Word.  This will connect you to the body in a greater way than playing and singing ever could.

Ok, now to the pastors.  I can speak them straight because I am one of them too.  Pastors, and leaders as well, must remember this - we are the main worship leaders.  The people in the praise teams lead us in worship but everyone is looking at the pastoral leadership.  How is your countenance in worship?  Are you present in the congregation during that time?  What are you modeling to your people?  It does not matter if you can sing at all.  I promise you that the people in your church will never go further in worship than you lead them.  Count on it.  If you are preaching on how great God's grace is but fail to worship during "Amazing Grace", your message will not be as powerful as it could be.  If you are preaching on salvation but fail to worship during "Mighty To Save" then your message will not be as powerful as it could be.  Put your notes away during the worship time.  Work out all those transitions, scriptures, points, and illustrations during the week.  When you model worship, people can instantly put that into practice.  They see you lifting hands - they lift hands.  They see you full of joy, they are full of joy.  They see you sitting and texting, they sit and text.  Come on pastors - ENGAGE!  You were called to preach - me too.  But before you and I were called to preach we were created to praise.  God doesn't just want you to preach about Him - He wants you to give praise to Him.  You know the scriptures - now express to God your appreciation, love, devotion, and ferver for who you realize Him to be because of the life-changing, quick, powerful, double-edged word that you have been engaged in all week. 

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