Pastors and ministry leaders in the local church have an enormous stewardship in shepherding the lives of the people who attend services each week. People in the pews hand over sixty minutes of their week to be led in meaningful corporate worship. Sometimes I fear that worship leaders forget to ask themselves the “what’s at stake” question, unwittingly prompting a congregation to respond to them – the worship leader- rather than the One worthy of worship.
The following statement by A. W. Tozer solidified in my mind the stakes on Sunday mornings:
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at any given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.
What’s at stake on Sunday mornings? People’s view of God. Worldviews diametrically opposed to the gospel barrage our people weekly; corporate worship should help people recalibrate their hearts and minds towards God. If Tozer is right that the most important thing about a person is their view of God, then every aspect of a worship service–the songs’ texts, the spoken transitions, the prayers and even the announcements–should point people to a clearer, more focused and biblically-informed understanding of who God is.
Bryan Chapell writes in his book, Christ-Centered Worship: “This is more than a matter of choosing music that is properly respectful or adequately relevant. Our worship should show the face of Jesus to those who have gathered and to those who need to gather to worship Him.”
–Dr. Joseph Crider (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville) (from a blog post at doxologyandtheology.com)