The Peculiarity of Early Christian Worship (or How Early Christians Managed to Offend Just about Everybody)


7 Things i love about liturgical protestant worship

Silence Please! 3 Things That Happen When You Use Stillness in Service

We Cry Out – Your Glory Is Here

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.

The church who can’t worship . . .


Random thoughts about church leadership

We all tend to read into the Bible what we want to see and believe. Sometimes it is to justify ourselves, sometimes to justify our actions, but often merely to justify our personal ideas. It is wise to be aware of that and be careful what we are dogmatic about. Paul addresses this some in Romans 14-15. Often our personal, uncritical beliefs do not relate to salvation or critical elements of living out our discipleship. Many of those instances the belief is not critical. It is just unbiblical.

… Church leaders, pastors, etc. are the same. Sometimes we read in suport for our beliefs, sometimes for our thoughts on organization, etc.

For example, for your personal study, check out for yourself the idea that leadership for the church is either congregational, elder, or a pastor. Look at who the writers wrote the epistles to. Timothy was not a typical pastor. He was an emissary to help various and multiple churchs. Often the elders and pastors were not mentioned or mentioned almost as an after-thought. Whatever — our present church leadership theologies and practices are not going to change. However, there must be some reason for the rather dramatic differences in church leadership styles. Be aware that the dogmatic positions of everyone is more isogesis than exogesis. Look up those words. We need people who are called as leaders and shepherds to guide and watch over us. The modern one-man style really took shape after the Bible was written when a leader took charge largely, apparently, because the average disciple was so illiterate and non-responsive to God that someone needed to step forward. It is okay, likely still needed, but not necessarily biblically demanded.

… Whatever the case about leadership styles, we have our present-day format and it is not going to change. Our minds and our practices are pretty much set in stone and leaders and theologians can and will find bits and pieces of the Bible to justify what we do. So, with that, let us think about what we expect from our leaders.

Pastors and elders

Do you really think they are different? Does the Bible differentiate between them? Are the expectations toward the church different — does the Bible clearly state that the pastor is the leader? Those questions are just to get you reading the word. Nothing is going to change. However, all leaders are pastors, oops, shepherds. They are all responsible to care for the people under them. They are not just administrators. Pastors who are aloof from the people may be so for practical reasons, but not biblical reasons. Elders who do not practice shepherding are not biblical elders. Elders and pastors who do not practice what they want the congregation to practice are not themselves practicing what they preach. If they want us to pray, they should be the example of prayer life. If they want community and hospitality, they should be the epitome of that. If we want missions and evangelism, they are the human examples for the congregation.

Church service leaders

If God holds teachers and pastors to a high standard and warns of serious expectations, maybe he holds other leaders, such as worship leaders, to a high standard, too. Even though worship leaders are not mentioned in the New Testament, anyone who leads God’s people should be of solid character. (In the biblical days, it seems everyone was able to participate in the service.)

We expect preachers to practice what they preach, to seriously strive to be an example of what they would like their people to do and be. So, it seems reasonable, to hold a worship pastor to be living up to a high standard and have a life that exemplifies that of a true worshipper.

If teachers are expected to teach the word, give it meaning, encourage people to read and follow its guidance, shouldn’t the worship leader lead people into a fuller and truly worshipful experience? A teacher is expected to do more than merely read the word; a worship leader should also be expected to do more than sing songs. Shouldn’t he/she be expected to lead people into a fuller worship experience, helping the people to become more aware of the exciting news that God is not only alive but welcoming in Christ — and can be approached, appreciated and worshipped with a wide variety of means?

If a pastor does little to excite people about the word and its savior, he is failing his role; so a worship leader who fails to lead people into the throne room and display something of the greatness of God and the incredible privilege worshippers have to exalt him, he/she is failing in the role of “worship” leader.

If teachers should be careful to present the whole gospel and expose people to the great truths of the word and help people respond to it, shouldn’t worship leaders also fear lest they are just going through a ritual and not really exposing and introducing people into a deeper, fuller worship experience?

~ Hungry Worshipper


~ Pastor Bill Walden to worship leaders:

Worship leaders need to realize the holiness of the activity they are involved in. They stand before people, and sing to the Creator of the universe. They stand before God, and sing directly to Him. They use their God given gifts and talents to worship God in such a way that inspires others to join in.

A man who practices habitual sin cannot suddenly rise to a practical holiness that is evidenced by a visitation of God’s Spirit. God can and does use such a man, but the experience is never what it could have been had that man walked closer with God.

Conversely, if you are walking by the Spirit, your worship leading will be Spirit led, and people will sense the difference. There will be a sweetness, a holiness, and a presence of God’s Spirit that accompanies you as you worship and lead others in worship.

A godly worship leader is sensitive to the condition of the church congregation at any given gathering. When the church gathers, the Lord knows what the people need to hear, and to experience. The Spirit led worship leader has that “X-factor”, that unspoken but very real sensitivity to know how to lead a group of people in worship. Certain songs may be added or dropped at the last minute. In service changes take place as that leader senses the congregation being touched by the Lord. Choruses and refrains are repeated for emphasis. Times of silence are allowed, as people sit before the Lord. Songs may be suddenly dropped. The entire experience is organic and led by the Spirit of God, and is a moving target that cannot be anticipated or planned for, but can only be responded to when one is in the moment.