Why God Demands Worship

Don Carson:

I have been doing university missions off and on for about thirty-five years. About a dozen years ago, I started stumbling across a question from university undergraduates that I never received when I was a young man. This relatively recent question is put variously, but it generally runs something like this: “Amongst human beings, anyone who wants to have all of the attention and garner all the praise, anyone who wants to be the focus of everyone’s constant admiration, with everyone stroking that person and fawning all over him, would be thought of as massively egocentric. The God you are trying to push on us looks to me to be very egocentric. He keeps demanding that we praise Him all the time. For goodness sake, is He insecure? Isn’t He, at very least, morally defective?

What do you say to that? The reason I never heard that sort of question in the past, I suspect, is because until fairly recently most of the unconverted people I met in university missions had been brought up in the Judeo-Christian heritage, which held that there is a sovereign, transcendent God, and that He is unique and deserves special attention. But now things have changed. Thirty years ago, if I were dealing with an atheist, at least he or she was a “Christian atheist.” That is, the God he or she disbelieved in was the Christian God, which is another way of saying that the categories were on my turf. But I can’t assume that now.

So it’s difficult to respond. Of course it’s true to say something like this: “Yes, but God is so much more than we are. He’s not just another human being, slightly ‘souped-up.’ He is God. He is the Creator. He is to be cherished and revered. He is our Maker and our Sovereign and our providential King and our Judge.” All of that is true.

But there is more. It is one of the themes John Piper likes to preach about. It is this: Because we have been made by this God and for this God, because our very self-identity when we are right with God is to love Him supremely, to adore Him and to worship Him, it is a supreme act of love on His part to keep demanding it—because it is for our good. What conceivable good would it do for us if God were to say: “Don’t give Me too much worship. I’m just One of you guys. Slightly ratchet it up maybe, but don’t focus on Me too much.” That might satisfy some idolater’s notion of humility, but the humility that I see in this King of kings is on Golgotha. That He keeps directing attention to Himself is an act of supreme humility and grace, precisely because He stoops to remind us of what we ought to recognize, and because it is for our good.

There is no insecurity in this God. After all, He is the God of aseity. He has no needs. In eternity past, the Father loved the Son, the Son loved the Father, and They were perfectly content. God is not demanding that we love Him so that we can meet the needs of His psychological profile this week. His focus on Himself is not only because He is God, but because, out of love, that is what we need. That is what we must see. That is the point to which our adoration must come. If it does not, we wallow in idolatry again and again and again.

Comment at: https://pjcockrell.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/why-god-demands-worship/

5 Reasons We Must Stop Doing Traditional Worship

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For those of you who are familiar with my work, that title might be a surprise. “Stop doing traditional worship?! Jonathan, for the love, what are you saying?” Please let me explain.

I am for historic worship; that is, following the liturgical tradition rooted in the New Testament church that has continued throughout the ages. There was a time when we called this “worship.” But the commercialization of American popular music, coupled with a post-Christian culture has ushered in the era of preferentially-based worship.

From there, we have settled into a false dichotomy, in which we’re told that we each have a worship style imprinted on our hearts, and that it’s probably either traditional or contemporary. Thus, the stuff we used to do in worship has been labeled “traditional.”

I think that’s not only wrong, but it’s ultimately toxic. Here are a few reasons we must stop with our “traditional” worship.

1. It neglects the forward trajectory of the church.

Worship isn’t about the good old days. It’s about being a church for the world today and tomorrow, and the new world that is yet to be.

2. It becomes a concession to the “old” people.

We take our traditional worship, put it at an hour when we’re reasonably sure nobody under 50 will mistakenly show up, and we sing the favorites of yesterday. It’s not about rooting out worship in the ancient practices, but about going back to 1940 or 50 or 60, and parking our worship at one place in time that the mature saints among us can fondly recall. Thus, we starve the whole church of worship that is deeply-rooted, and we treat our older folks to an hour of sentimental delusion and idolatry.

3. It deprives so-called “traditionalists” of new expressions.

In the words of Marva Dawn, traditionalists “do not learn anything fresh and lack the nourishment of reformation and renewal.” Beyond that, when we do this kind of traditional worship, we deprive them of worshiping in the full fellowship of the congregation, with all different ages. That is a tragedy, the toxic effects of which I’m afraid we’ve yet to grasp.

4. It turns churches into vendors and worshipers into consumers.

Far too many of our churches and denominations have bought into the lie that unless your church offers multiple styles of worship, it will die soon. You can’t just do traditional worship, you have to do contemporary, too. That statement is complete and total nonsense, proven false by 1,975 years of Christian liturgical tradition. Worship is not the church’s product, to be offered in every color and style imaginable so that more people will buy it. It’s not our job to give people what they want, but what God says we need. Worship isn’t about taste, and worship gatherings are ideally not the entry point into God’s church.

5. It can only lead to narcissistic worship.

Worship that is formed by taste; that is, worship that is meant to appeal to a particular group, can only end with narcissism. We (the worshiper) choose ourselves – our likes and dislikes, our feelings, our stories – over the story of the living God (the divine Subject of true worship). Such worship is masturbatory, toxic, suffocating, and ultimately in vain.

Words Mean Stuff

I’ve long wanted the church to rethink using the terms “contemporary” or “modern.” All worship is contemporary because we’re doing it now. “Modern” is a term that for me brings up images of Don Draper’s living room, instead of a gathering of the saints. What we really mean when we say contemporary or modern is “commercial.” We want worship created in a marketable image. We want worship that sells. We want an entertainment factor so high that football and golf and sleep are no match. So no more “contemporary,” no more “modern,” and certainly no “commercial,” as if any church would have the guts to use that one.

But while we’re at it, let’s reassess all of our labels.

Ripping off the Labels

There was a time when we didn’t need those descriptors. It was a time before the church lost its way and started bowing at the altar of self. That’s what church marketing all goes back to, the self. “How can we reach [sucker in] more people [butts] so that we can offer [sell] them the Gospel [gospel]?”

Yes, we must shun the capitalistic language of marketers, and go back to our own language. A church that humbly desires to worship in spirit and truth doesn’t need traditional or contemporary or modern or jazz or emergent or Gen-X or any other adjective.

Before we had traditional worship, we only needed worship.

Or better yet, liturgy.

After all, a church that really wants to be part of God’s Church for the world isn’t worried about attractions, but about the will of God in heaven. If worship is truly the work of the people, hitting the emotional spot with the right shade of jesusy music and an easy-listening sermon won’t suffice.

It’s about coming together as God’s covenant people in the presence of God and those who have come before. It’s traditional, it’s contemporary, and it’s looking to the future. And those centuries that separate us seem to fold together and collapse. And we find ourselves hidden in the One who died, was raised, and will keep us to the end.

How to…Speak Words of Transition: Ways to move smoothly through worship

http://www.reformedworship.org/article/march-1999/how-tospeak-words-transition-ways-move-smoothly-through-worship

 

See also

https://worshipblog.org/what-to-say-when-leading-worship/

 

and: The “In Between” Words: How to keep fellow worshipers tuned in

http://worship.calvin.edu/resources/resource-library/the-in-between-words-how-to-keep-fellow-worshipers-tuned-in/

And another: The 8 Rules For Talking While Leading Worship

at http://www.worshipteamcoach.com/blog/2013/09/16/the-8-rules-for-talking-while-leading-worship

Some dos and don’ts in worship leading

Some more tips about leading worship

1. In your prayer time, ask God what He wants to say during the worship.

When choosing songs, resist the temptation to select songs just based on their sound — whether they’re energetic or mellow. Instead, ask God to give you a vision for what He wants to do in the worship service. Write it down and prepare for it just as seriously as you would if you were preaching the sermon. Lead every worship service as if it’s the greatest opportunity of your life!

Similar to preaching or teaching a message, there’s so much more to leading worship than just standing on the platform leading the congregation and a team of musicians. One thing I continually remind myself of as a worship leader is that I’m first singing to Jesus Christ, not to people. So as I prepare and practice, I do that “behind-the-scenes” part of it unto the Lord as well (see Colossians 3:23).

2.  Use the Scriptures during worship.

The Bible is the foundation of our faith and should therefore not be neglected during worship. One great way to use the Scripture is at the beginning of the praise and worship segment to bring a word of encouragement to people. In doing this, you’re directing people’s attention to God and His Word. Their minds may be burdened and full of anxiety and care, but as they begin to look at Jesus, their focus is changed, and it’s easier to lead them into the presence of God in worship.

You can use the Bible to amplify the point or message of the song. Reading from God’s Word brings unity to the worship portion of the service. Even if people don’t know the particular song you’re singing, they can always relate to and connect with the Word of God.

3. Lead the people in worship.

When people come to church, they have a lot of things on their minds: paying bills, obtaining their basic needs, mending relationships, etc. For many, worshiping God is the furthest thing from their mind. The job of a worship leader is to exhort and encourage people to turn their attention toward God where it needs to be — to bring honor to Him to whom honor is due and to prepare the way for Him to move in and on the behalf of people as He desires.

It’s okay to give direct, simple suggestions, such as, “Let’s raise our hands,” or, “Let’s close our eyes and concentrate on Christ and His cross,” or, “Let’s sing in other tongues.” No matter how great the worship is, people will not always do all of these things automatically. They need to be led.

4. Choose songs that are easy to sing.

Loud music, guitar riffs, and creative arrangements can be great, but if the music is too loud or there’s been too much arrangement that you can no longer focus on the words, the song becomes distracting. You simply can’t lead people into the presence of God if they can’t sing the songs. Therefore, the melody should be easy to sing — easy enough for everyone to participate in, not just those with an ear for music.

Even secular songs that hit the top of the charts are usually those that have an easy melody and are easy to sing. One simple rule is that if it takes the worship team an entire week to learn the words and music to a new song, the people in the congregation probably won’t pick it up in three to five minutes! Simply put, praise and worship should be sweet and simple. In this sense, “less is more.” And think about it: Songs with few words that are easy to sing can live for generations. So having easy melodies with as few words as possible should be what we strive for as we choose and write our worship music.

One ingredient found in songs that are easy to sing is a key that’s appropriate for a majority of the congregation — not too high or too low. As a worship leader, I don’t choose the key for myself — instead, I choose it for the people I’ll be ministering to and leading into worship and also for the back-vocals section of the band or choir.

A worship leader obviously must possess vocal talent, yet as he or she leads worship, it’s not about impressing the congregation with that talent. In fact, if the worship leader is the only person who can sing the songs at the right tempo and key, what was intended as a ministry to lead others into God’s presence becomes nothing more than a concert!

 

from http://www.tonycooke.org/articles-by-others/praise-worship2/

Did we worship the Lord or just sing a few songs?

http://chapter-next.com/did-we-worship-the-lord-or-just-sing-a-few-songs/

What is the difference between praise and worship?

https://www.gotquestions.org/difference-praise-worship.html

Stop Singing Songs And Start Leading Worship

http://www.davidsantistevan.com/start-leading-worship/