Worship that Ignites
Worship That Ignites
Let’s get it straight: God created worship for Himself! So worship is NOT about us, nor is it about what we get out of it. Instead worship is about HIM and for HIM. The word itself comes from “worth-ship” which means to show the worth of the object of worship, not to glorify the worshiper. We need desperately to learn this lesson ourselves and teach it to our people over and over again.
Jesus gave us the formula for worship when He said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all to me”. He was also foretelling his sacrificial death on the cross. But when we look at His statement applied to worship, we realize that effective worship is not guaranteed by using any particular style or format. Jesus did not say, “If you have a great praise band, or choir, or orchestra, or sing only hymns or choruses, then you will draw people to me”. Again, worship is all about lifting HIM up. Ultimately, this is the only formula that will work to ignite people first to salvation and then to mission action and discipleship.
So how can our corporate worship ignite God’s people to fulfill the Great Commission? In other words, do our worship services create missionaries for Him in our communities?
First, we must make our worship services all about Him. Many years ago I heard this quote from Ken Hemphill, “When people fall deeply in love with God, most issues of church growth resolve themselves.” Our calling as worship leaders is to help people fall deeply in love with God. The ministerial staff at Brentwood Baptist, Nashville, calls this the “worship vortex”: when corporate worship is so totally focused on God that everyone present is swept up into His presence and connects with Him. Take anything extraneous (announcements, jokes, etc) and put it before the service or at the very end. Then focus on Him with all your might.
Second, don’t break the flow. Once you begin lifting God up in worship, be sure not to break the drama of revelation and response (see Isaiah 6). The worship service is a re-telling of the gospel: God revealing Himself to us and us responding to Him personally. Don’t interrupt the story. Let the full impact of this drama play out from beginning to end so that we are caught up in this powerful portrayal, time and again.
Third, teach constantly the Biblical concept that worship is lifestyle, not just an hour on Sunday. Weekly worship services are important as corporate worship for the Body of Christ. But worship in spirit and truth means total dependence on Christ every moment of life. Constant worship is the essence of our love relationship with God. And our “worship life” flows from personal relationship into mission action because we want to share it.
True worship will ignite the people of God to be His people in their communities… not just in the church. Focus totally on God, then don’t interrupt the drama, and constantly teach worship as a lifestyle. Let’s plan worship that intentionally ignites worshipers on mission!
Mark Powers is director of the Worship & Music Office at the South Carolina Baptist Convention. You can contact Mark at [email protected] or 803.227.6166.