By Dr. Jim Wolfe, Senior Pastor
Because of conflicts within our churches over styles of music, I was asked one time to lead a workshop for Pastors and Music Ministers entitled “Worship – Making It Real.” What a challenge!
Who really knows the correct way to worship – the traditionalist, the contemporary, the cowboy, the highbrow, the charismatic, a blend of all? There is this great debate within our churches – but this is nothing new! Jesus met a woman from Samaria, who said, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (John 4:20). Does that sound like us today? “Unless you are solemn and devout, you are not worshiping!” “No, unless you are moved to tears or laughter, you are not worshiping!” Many think worship is about emotions – and many worship services become mere entertainment with music that stirs our bodies, and preaching that stirs our minds. We are emotional creatures, and no doubt when we worship our emotions will be affected. But, emotion without devotion is nothing more than commotion!
In Gene Mims’ book, The Kingdom Focused Church, he defines Worship this way: “Worship is any activity in which believers experience God in a MEANINGFUL, SPIRITUALLY TRANSFORMING WAY. It leads worshipers to a deeper appreciation for God, a better understanding of His ways, and a deeper commitment to Him.” (All caps are mine for emphasis.)
Worship involves Spiritual Transformation. Does the service of music and preaching speak to your heart concerning God’s will and are you moved to obey? Unless you obey, you have not truly worshiped. Samuel chastises King Saul, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifice, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).
Worship is more than a deeper appreciation for God (stirring our emotions to praise and adoration) but includes listening for God’s will and then obeying His will (a better understanding and a deeper commitment). If you can walk out of a church service without a deeper commitment to live for Jesus and not for the things of this world, you have not experience spiritual transformation – true worship!
BUT, Corporate Worship is not just about you! I have had people say to me, “I just don’t get anything out of church!” And my response is always, “It is not what you get, but what you give!” The writer of Hebrews states, “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another” (Hebrews 10:23-24).
I guess my point is simply this: Worship is not about the style of music, or the great oration of the preacher; it is about listening to God and simply obeying – “experience God in a meaningful, spiritually transforming way.”