Maybe you’ve never wondered if your church should be “worship-driven.” In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples how relevant to the culture He was. Then He got in their faces and asked them what personal revelation they had of Him. Their testimony? “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He proceeded to make a standard-creating, normative statement. I’m going to build My church on My revelation and not even a church split will be able to defeat it. Sure that’s my paraphrase, but you get the idea.
Matt Redman describes worship as “our response to the revelation of God.” So if Jesus builds His church on the revelation of Himself, and the act of worship is how we respond to that revelation, these encounters with God are foundational to the health and growth of His church. That’s what I mean by a “worship-driven church.”
SO WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE?
1. The Center is Christ.
This may be easier to see if we understand the anti-definition first. The center is not our mission, our tradition, our great idea, our favorite something, our comfort, our theological soapbox, or whether or not our denomination gives the thumbs up to homosexual pastors. We are consumed, intimately consumed with the Godhead...the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. It’s like it’s all we really care about. And it’s so unifying because it turns all the other noise way down!
2. Oh my goodness, how we sing!
Raise your hand if you hate to sing. Raise your hand if you love to sing. Hello both of you. It mystifies me to think that God has always given singing to His people as a primary method of worshiping, of declaring, of praying, of lamenting, of celebrating, of communing. He commands it, actually. Often. Sure our hearts are to be fully engaged as well, but we know how to belt, how to reach inside, make a choice, and let ‘er rip! '
3. Our musicians have learned how to make singing easy.
In the spectrum of performer to accompanist, our bands have learned to set up congregational singing more as accompanists than as performers. Sure, they prophesy, express, and inspire on their instruments, but they are keenly aware of their role. They’re not like priests that focus on the smell and taste of the meat they just altar-grilled. Rather, they fulfill the holy call of creating places of meeting for God’s people. How, you ask? As artists, they’ve taken great pains to hone their craft so that the music grooves, feels right, and evokes singing just by the way it’s played.
4. The “music time” isn’t “special” or “cursory” (token), but rather it’s “core.”
When we sing, we realize and celebrate that it’s a core reason for gathering. “One generation will praise Your works to another and tell of Your mighty acts,” Psalm 145 instructs. When we gather, each of us brings something that shows who God is (1 Corinthians 12) and we gather with armloads of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” (Colossians 3:16)
5. It gets noisy and it’s free.
One thing we know about biblical worship is that it’s generous...it goes beyond the minimum. Isaiah 43 gives us insight into God’s heart for His people. He’s addressing “the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.” And He rants “It wasn't that I asked that much from you. I didn't expect expensive presents. But you didn't even do the minimum -- so stingy with me, so closefisted.” As a worship-driven church, we will always be excessive, going beyond the minimum with our giving in worship. And freedom will mark us when God is among us because “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom, there is liberty!” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
I hope that these things mark the congregation you belong to. If they don’t yet, may God give you wisdom, grace, favor, and the revelation to move toward becoming a more worship-driven church...for His glory and fame!