This is a follow up to my previous post on Bob Kauflin's book True Worshipers.
Chapter Seven, True Worshipers Keep Singing: Worship and Perseverance is packed with many helpful questions that have us all at some point. The following list is certainly not exhaustive, but includes the questions that resonated most strongly with me.
WHAT IF I DON'T FEEL LIKE SINGING?
"Sometimes we come in on a Sunday morning and the last thing we want to do is sing. God gave us singing as a means not only of expressing our emotions but also speaking to them. We won't always be moved in the same way or to the same degree when we sing. There may be times when we feel numb. But the answer isn't to stop singing. Crying for grace to feel strong affections toward [God] is itself a sign of true worship. And certainly more fruitful than gritting our teeth and accepting the condition as normal."
WHY DO WE SING SO MANY OLD SONGS (OR NEW SONGS)?
"Objecting to songs simply because they're old is rooted in the same problem as objecting to new ones. We want to sing the songs we like. But the issue isn't how familiar we are with the songs. The issue is whether we're going to take every opportunity as true worshipers to exalt God."
This is a great exhortation to me as one who can be distracted by my own critical spirit when in an unfamiliar worship scenario. Kauflin's answer can be applied to any aspect of a worship service. Perhaps we're in a service more "rigid" than we're used to or perhaps the liturgy is very different. The choice is ours: do we enter in and seek the glory of the Lord or do we itemize those things which do not live up to our standards?
WHAT DO I DO WHEN I'M DISTRACTED?
"It's enough to be distracted internally by our own thoughts, relational challenges, struggles, pains, and anxieties. But distractions can also be external. It might be a leader or someone in the band who's particularly expressive or grumpy looking. It might be the temperature in the room. If you're a musician, you might be bothered by a bad mix. It's the rare meeting that doesn't have something we can complain about. But for true worshipers, the question is always, How can I respond in a way that exalts God's glory in Christ in my mind, affections, and will?"
I am so thankful for Bob Kauflin's work in music and worship at Sovereign Grace. It has helped me grow in so many ways and I hope it helps us all to keep singing!
In the last few posts I unpacked the three broad characteristics of Christian worship as defined by the BiFrost Arts curriculum. Read more about the curriculum here. The curriculum asserts that Christian worship will be Biblical, Trinitarian, and Redemptive.
The fourth broad characteristic of Christian worship is that it is Participatory.
Participatory worship helps to challenge two idolatries:
If the preacher/pastor is doing all of the heavy lifting, then we are tempted to check out of the rest of the service. "It's all lead up to the sermon anyway." We might even be tempted to substitute podcast sermons for actual worship attendance, when we are physically able to attend church. Biblical sermons are excellent, but it is easy to treat them as another self help talk if we think Sunday worship is just about me learning more.
So when we read scripture together in worship, read it intentionally. When we confess our sins, may it be heartfelt and genuine. When we hear the promise of the gospel that our sins are forgiven in Jesus, take it in deeply. When we listen to musicians or soloists we do not have to be passive. Listen actively, searching for God's glory in what is being sung or played. The work of our worship is actively receiving the finished work of Jesus.
Anthony is the Director of Worship and Communications at Arden Presbyterian Church in NC.
Recommended Music for Worship
Keith & Kristyn Getty
The Worship Pastor
With One Voice
Look and Live
Rhythms of Grace
The Worship Architect
The Stories We Tell
Christ Centered Worship