"A cord of three strands is not easily forgotten" Ecclesiastes 4:12
by Dan Millheim
The first time I met Pete at "his place," as he called it, he was sitting outdoors on a broken-down lawn chair that miraculously supported his lumbering frame with duct tape, wire, and, as he would later boast, "an angel's wing." He had a unique face, the kind an artist would loved to capture, and he could easily have passed for a much younger man had his arthritic hands not betrayed his youthful expression.
It was a hot day as I recall--very hot. Maybe that's why I first noticed Pete's water cooler, but its diminutive size suggested it was reserved exclusively for him. I was never offered a drink. In fact, Pete never offered me anything by way of hospitality during our conversation--if you even want to call it that. It's not that he was rude or disinterested. In looking back, I can only describe our encounter like trying to talk with a lifeguard while on duty, except with Pete, his "duty" was mentoring a young group of men into seasoned brick masons. The entire time we were together, he never once turned his gaze away from their work. Why the urgency? He later told me that for some of these young men, learning a skill could mean the difference between life and death on the streets, and the seriousness in which they received their instruction proved his point.
His "students," as he called them, varied in age from preteen to early twenties and were held together, like the wall they were constructing, with a bond of reverence they shared for their mentor's wisdom and for the care he demonstrated by helping them develop their craft. As I followed his instructions back and forth all afternoon, I learned that these young men had a name for their special teacher: They called him "Cool Pete." As one of the boys told me, "Mr. Pete has earned his place in the shade for all his years of work, and his only job now is to teach us the same."
A Challenge to Church Leaders
We need an army of Cool Petes to come alongside the next generation of potential leaders within the body of Christ today. Their very souls are at stake. Young people need not just pastors and church professionals, but mature Christian laypeople whose job and passion is to influence the next generation for Christ. Never before has there been a greater sense of urgency to minister to scores of young seekers, many of whom are fatherless or motherless and need positive authority figures in their lives. Not only would these alliances be a blessing, but the skills and talents these young people possess could offer an unprecedented blessing to the body of Christ both now and in the future. But they need development. They need us.
Let's think about our particular churches for a moment: Is the next generation welcome in our services, or do we quarantine them off to "special programs" in specially designed rooms in the bowels of our buildings? In the area of worship leadership, is their music welcome? While I was attending the service of a large church last week, the young people took me aside and asked for prayer. They said that doing contemporary music in their church was akin to "persecution." They commented how the leadership of the church would occasionally allow their songs to be offered in worship, yet these leaders refused to sing with the congregation during contemporary worship. Let me ask you: How many godly worship leaders will a church nurture with an attitude like this? For that matter, how many young leaders of any kind will this spirit of superiority foster?
But pride is not the only hindrance to mentoring. We can easily feel that we do not have the proper training or experience to meet the challenge of investing in young people. Maybe the culture or our perceived inability to relate to a younger generation paralyzes us from reaching out to these younger saints. I can relate to this fear.
A Willingness on All Fronts
One of the greatest qualities of mentoring relationships within the church is the willingness to learn and to be supported on many fronts. In other words, mentoring does not just involve dispensing wisdom; it also means receiving wisdom as well. In this process, there is accountability. If you are younger, you must be open to learn from those who are older than you, and vice versa. The young brick masons demonstrated tremendous respect for the knowledge their older mentor possessed, but Pete also celebrated their youthful ingenuity. In worship leadership development, both young and old can learn from one another, as long as style issues do not divide and differing opinions are honored. When style is at the center of our worship passion, then we have created an idol of personal preference rather than a celebration of God's presence. By focusing on such issues as biblical training, marriage and family building, character development, godliness, personal purity, accountability, and pastoral shepherding, the issues of worship conflict seem rather insignificant.
I began this piece with Ecclesiastes 4:12 because when I observed the masonry training, I was amazed to discover that each person was partnered in groups of three. King Solomon originates this educational concept when he writes that a cord is strengthened when entwined with two additional cords. In this particular setting, the older boys learned from the master teacher and in turn taught the younger students. Each boy had both an older and younger boy in his group for support and instruction. As we learn, we are to influence others. Do you have an older mentor and younger student in your life? Knowledge was never meant to be static.
A healthy mentoring ministry needs to overcome the influences of our Western culture, which has naively exalted a youth movement at the expense of our older generations--it is sin, pure and simple. But isn't it also sinful to abdicate one's responsibility to influence our youth with all the knowledge and resources that life has afforded in favor of sunny beaches in Florida? Mentors never retire. I am convinced that Cool Pete's youthful appearance was the result of his investing his life in young people. I also learned that "his place," as he called it, was not the location we met on that hot summer afternoon, but that tattered old lawn chair he moved around town to keep up with them.
How cool is that?
Dan Millheim is worship pastor at Harvest Church in Watauga, TX.
by Steve Bowersox
One half of being a worship leader is being a leader. If you're like most, however, you've spent most of your time perfecting the musical gifts God has given you. As you've done that, you've been promoted and now find yourself leading not just worship, but the congregation and the music team as well!
The good news is that leadership skills can be learned, and God's Word has much to say about how to lead. As a fellow worship leader, one of my favorite leadership verses is found in Titus 2:15: "Thus speak, exhort, reprove with all impressiveness. Let no one make light of your authority" (Weymouth Modern Translation).
Paul was writing to one of his young leaders when he penned those words, and they hold some important principles as you work to become the worship leader God wants you to be. Let's quickly examine these principles:
1) Speak -- Communicate your goals with the choir, orchestra, ensemble, or music team. But you can't communicate your goals for the worship program if you don't have any.
Ask yourself what you want to accomplish this year: How many new songs will you introduce? What instruments do you want to add to your team? Who do you want to train to fill in for you when you're out of town?
Then sit down with the pastor and get his input and vision for the music program. Find out what the upcoming ministry topics will be and try to introduce songs that will flow with the pastor's ministry direction. From all this, develop some clear goals and spell them out for your team.
And then let your team members tell you what their goals are. Find out who has a goal to lead worship, to write new songs for the congregation, or to lead the choir. This will allow you to the second principle found in Titus 2:15.
2) Exhort -- In his book, The One-Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard stressed the need to catch employees doing something good and to encourage them. The same holds true for the worship leader. You need to exhort your team by encouraging them profusely and regularly. Ed Cole has taught that words either build up or tear down; there is no in between.
I've found that fear and intimidation hold back many musicians and worshipers. You need to help them work through that fear so they can minister effectively. Paul told Timothy to "stir up the gifts within you" (2 Timothy 1:6). As a leader, that's part of your job.
Leaders are only leaders because people follow them. And people tend to follow those who encourage and make room for them and their gifts. If you use people for your ends or fail to encourage them, you forfeit some of your leadership. If you're afraid to get involved and exhort, then you're also going to avoid the final principle Paul shared with Titus.
3) Reprove -- You probably lead some gifted people. But lack of integrity or faithfulness will in the long run, undermine their gifts. You need to reprove them without fear of losing them. If you build meaningful relationships with them, this process will be much easier because they will know you love them.
I had a young man on my team one time who was a great bass player, but was always late. I had to make a decision: Would I turn the other way and hope he would improve, or would I get involved and reprove him? I chose the latter and sat him down to have a heart-to-heart talk. Then I bought him a watch, set it fifteen minutes fast, and asked him to follow it. He clearly understood that his continued tardiness would cost him a place on the team.
This young man improved so much that when he met a special young lady some time later, she shared with us that one of the things she appreciated about him was his punctuality! Today he leads a band of his own. You need to produce those same kinds of success stories if your worship leadership is to be complete.
I urge you to do what Paul told Titus to do -- speak, exhort, and reprove. Improve your people-skills as you endeavor to lead God's people into His presence. As you do, your gifts and skills will work together to make you an effective worship leader in your church.
Steve Bowersox is the founding Executive Director of Worship International and the Bowersox Institute of Music. He is Associate Pastor and Worship Leader at Christ the Redeemer Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Steve travels around the world teaching on worship as a lifestyle, leadership and musical excellence.
When defining worship, I believe we need to see what God says. So I look in the Bible to see what words are used. I looked at the NAS.
There's a primary word in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew.
The primary Hebrew word, for "worship", shachah, is a powerful one. It describes the physical act of actually prostrating yourself on the floor before a sovereign, someone who has complete control over you. There are 171 uses of shachah in the Old Testament. It is translated bow, homage, prostrate, worship, weighs it down or a similar words.
Daniel wrote in Aramaic or Chaldean. The word he used, 12 times, is cegid, pronounces segeed. It is translated to prostrate oneself, do homage, worship. It is related to the Hebrew cagad, used four times (Isa 44:15, 17, 19, 46:6). It means to prostrate oneself (in worship).
The primary Greek word is proskuneo. It means to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence. Among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of pro-found reverence. In the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication. It is used 60 times in the NAS it is translated bow, prostrated himself be-fore, worship or similar words.
Then there are secondary words. I've divided then into service, reverence and religion.
Many have used these two words for service as their only secondary word for worship. A few have used it as their only worship word. Each time the NAS translates the word into worship; serve or service fits. We are to worship and serve Him. Do we think we can choose how we can serve God? Do we tell God that we how to maximize our skills? Do we question or ignore God, when He says to do something? We need to do what He wants to do, when He wants us to do it. We are His slaves, free to obey or disobey.
In the Old Testament, there is `abad which is to actively serve, to work, to minister. It can be a personal expression or we can join with other people corporately to serve. Of the 290 times it is used in the Old Testament, `abad is translated worship or worshipers only 13 times in the NAS. It is also translated slaves, burdened, cultivate, culti-vated and work. It is translated some form of serve over 200 times. Some translate the word in Zephaniah 3:10, as supplicants.
The New Testament word for service is latreuo. It means to serve for hire or to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men It is to render religious service or homage . to perform sacred services, to offer gifts. It is used of priests, to officiate, to discharge the sacred office. It is used 16 times in the New Testament. It is translated worship or wor-shiper only 5 times, in the NAS. Romans 12:1 can be translated reasonable or intelligent service. For Hebrews 9:6 service
of God fits in the place of divine worship.
I wonder why this is not the secondary word that people use. Proskuneo has the sense of reverence. It is one missing part of worship today . this may be the reason I did not see it used as a worship word. Worship can be replaced by reverence.
It means to revere, to worship. It is the root word for the words that follow. It is translated worship 6 times. It's also translated devout 3 times and religious, once. ((Matthew 15:8-9; Mark 7:6-7). Cross-reference Isaiah 29:13-14)
It means to act piously or reverently towards God, or whomever regard or reverence is due. It is translated piety in 1 Timothy 5:4. The root, eusebes, pious is from eu, acting well, and sebomai, worship. (Acts 17:23)
It means to fear, be afraid or to honor religiously, to worship. It is translated worship once. It is a derivative of sebomai, the previous word. (Romans 1:25)
It means whatever is religiously honored, an object of worship ... of temples, altars, statues, idolatrous images. It is from sebazomai, the previous word. (2 Thessalonians. 2:4)
It means religious worship. It is from a derivative of threskos (fearing or worshipping God; or to tremble), used in James 1:26. In turn, threskos is probably from the base of throeo, which is from threomai (to wail). Threskeia is translated worshipped once and the other three times it is religion. (Colossians 2:18)
There are other words that are not translated worship in the NAS, which have a flavor of being worship.
To fall on the knees, the act of imploring aid, and of expressing reverence and honor, is the meaning of this Greek word. It from a compound of gonu (the knee, to kneel down ) and the alternate of pipto (see below).
Mark 1:40, uses the word gonupeteo, while Matthew 8:2 uses shachah. This is where a leper asks to be made clean.
This Greek word means to descend from an erect to a prostrate position It is in passages Mark 5:22 and Luke 8:41, not shachah, as it is in Matthew 9:18. Jarius knelt before Jesus, asking that his daughter be restored to life. Luke 5:12 uses the word is pipto, while Matthew 8:2 uses shachah. This is where a leper asks to be cleansed.
Matthew 27:29 uses gonupeteo, while Mark 15:19 uses shachah to describe the soldiers were mocking Him, as King of the Jews.
Is Greek for, to bow in honor of one, in religious veneration, appearing four times in the New Testament. Philippians 2:10 says every knee will bow at the name of Jesus and confess Jesus Christ is Lord. Romans 14:11 where the Lord says that every knee will bow before Him and confess to God. We will see other places that use the primary worship words to recount this same scene. Ephesians 3:14 is where Paul says he bows his knees before the Father, because he does not want them to be discouraged (vs. 13). In Romans 11:4, the word is used is referring to those who didn't bow their knee to Baal.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and un-der the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:8-11).
For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God" (Romans 14:11).
The Hebrew equivalent of kampto, is kara' (to bend, kneel, bow, bow down, sink down to one's knees, kneel down to rest (of animals), kneel in reverence. Romans 11:4 cross-reference is 1 Kings 19:18. For Romans 14:11 it is Isaiah 45:23. Kara' is used with proskuneo (2 Chr. 7:3; 29:29; Psa. 22:29, 72:9, 95:6).
1 Kings 8:54 shows Solomon bowing in prayer with his hands raised. Ezra took the same position (Ezra 9:5).
Deuteronomy 6:13 is the passage Jesus quoted to Satan in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only." Yare' means to fear, revere, be afraid.
"You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name" Deuteronomy 6:13.
English is a poor language. Languages who do not use Old and Middle English do not use worthiness when they talk about worship. The idea of worthiness, is found in where the Lord and the Lamb are called worthy (Rev. 4:11, 5:9, 12). Note this is praise, not worship. That is seen in 5:14. I believe mixing praise and worship is one mistake the church has
The number of verses translated worship varies, from Young's Literal Translation which has 19 verses, to The Good News Bible in Today's English Version, with 537 verses. So do we choose to define worship by what others say, or investigate the Scripture ourselves, and see what makes sense?
By Stuart Townend
Worship teams and music groups play a pretty important part in our churches these days. They lead us in the kind of dynamic, expressive worship that has been a major feature of God’s work of renewal in western churches over the last twenty-five years. For these groups to function effectively, they require gifted leadership.
But consider this as a list of requirements for the job: musical ability, with the breadth to bring together classically-trained and pop/rock-inclined musicians; a pastor’s heart, to encourage and care for insecure artists; leadership skills to envision, instruct and lead your group; the insight of a counselor; organizational skills, to prepare music and run rehearsals... the list is endless! It sounds like a pretty tall order.
It’s quite surprising, therefore, that there is such a serious lack of training available to those who lead such groups. Pastors may still go off to college to learn how to preach, teach and lead (if not necessarily to pastor); yet worship leaders and team leaders are usually expected either to possess all they need naturally, or at least to be able to pick up what they need to know on the job. Admittedly, in recent years worship seminars and conferences have provided a measure of information and training on the subject. But there’s very little to help you on the job, so to speak; and to be honest, in some church situations there is precious little support and encouragement from church leadership, who are either too busy with their own responsibilities, or keep a safe distance through ignorance or suspicion.
This series of articles will not solve your problems! However, my initial aim is to lay out some foundations and principles for an effective worship team, which may also protect leaders from the kind of burn-out which results from a lack of support and training, and which is all too common in churches today.
Foundations for an effective team
The following points may seem obvious to us on the theoretical level. And yet many of the problems we face spring from failing to establish one or more of these principles in our teams. That’s not to say, of course, that once the principle has been established, team members won’t flout it! But if the rules of the team are clear, by implication it gives the leader authority to correct people who break them.
1. Respect for authority, and submission to the leader
Authority and submission are dirty words in some quarters! Of course, nobody likes a dictator; but you don t have to be heavy-handed to be a good leader, and it’s important that all members of the team show respect for the leader’s position. Essentially, this means that what you say goes.
Debates and disputes can arise on any number of levels, from what style a particular song should be played in, to who should play in the all-important Easter service. As leader, allow people to air their views where you think it is helpful and appropriate. But the team must realize that the final responsibility and decision is the leader’s, and they should accept your decision without dissent.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that you re necessarily right! Subsequent events may in fact show this up. But that doesn’t change the fact that you acted correctly according to what you felt was right at the time. Clearly, it’s important for you to listen to others opinions, and not to act out of selfishness or pride. But you carry the responsibility, and you are accountable both to God and to your church leaders for the
decisions that are made.
Appointed and accountable
Sometimes we may wonder whether a team that is reasonably like-minded and mature needs a leader at all. Surely we can move ahead by consensus and, if necessary, by democratic voting.
Although this may sound fine in theory, the practice is often very different. Firstly, it can bring a group to a standstill. I once led a worship seminar where the delegates divided into their church groups to perform a task. As I went round the different teams, I asked one group who their leader was. They proudly told me they didn’t have a leader, as they were democratic. Needless to say, after 30 minutes the only group who failed to finish the task was that one!
The fact is, most activity-oriented group situations do throw up a leader of sorts - a dominant personality, a confident speaker, a loud voice, an expert, someone who seeks to divert the group’s focus to their own agenda, and so on. These self-appointed leaders may or may not help to move the group on, but the team is dangerously exposed to manipulation and division. This kind of natural leadership is not only unhealthy; - it’s unbiblical.
Even a cursory glance at the Scriptures reveals that an effective leader is one who is appointed. The church’s leadership should choose and then publicly give its blessing to a leader (or leadership team), so that you are clearly given the authority to lead. Rather than being a heavy thing, you will probably find it gives you the security to deal more sensitively with other people in the group, as you do not constantly have to assert your position through your actions. Major challenges to your authority can also if necessary be referred up the line, so to speak, giving you a sense of covering in your position.
It also means that the team as a whole will feel more secure, because you are in turn accountable to the church leader. If you abuse your position, or if the Sunday worship starts falling apart, the pastor is going to come to you first! And that’s the way it should be.
As leader, it’s also important to bear this principle in mind when you delegate responsibility to others (which all leaders must learn to do). In giving someone a task or an aspect of the group’s function to work with, ensure that the role is clearly defined and appointed before the whole group, or it could all end in tears. (In spite of all this, some people will continue to undermine authority; we’ll deal with this kind of problem in more detail in a future issue.)
One important issue to clear up in this context is that of pastoral responsibility. In a healthy church, every member should be pastorally accountable to someone in this way, including the musicians (some would say especially the musicians!). Now whether your worship team should be regarded as a pastoral group is a matter for your church leaders. But it’s important that the issue is clear, so that you know where your responsibility begins and ends.
If, for example, you are not responsible for pastoring the team, and a serious pastoral crisis emerges with one of your team, you should then not get involved, but refer the situation to whoever is responsible. You can still offer friendship and support to the individual, of course. But don’t get sucked into a situation that you are not supposed to be handling, as it can complicate the situation, and sometimes lead to serious damage.
2. Willingness to learn.
It’s important that your team is teachable. Just because someone has a music degree doesn’t mean they understand how music works in worship. Although it’s important that the music is of a sufficient standard to work, among the musicians humility must be a higher priority than musical excellence. So, if you re starting out, choose your musicians accordingly. And if you re already working in a team, keep bringing people back to this vital cornerstone of public ministry.
3. Mutual respect.
Just as people have to respect you as leader, they need to respect one another. It’s so easy for worship teams to become a bed of jealousy, competitiveness, superior attitudes, and factions. It’s important to emphasize that although people will all have different musical tastes, there is no one musical style that has a monopoly on worship. In the same way, people have different measures of gifting, and yet God loves us all equally, and expects us to develop the gifts He has given us, while preferring one another in love.
Seek to develop a good rapport between people, perhaps through creating contexts where they have fun or socialize together. In this way, one person may not get to like another’s taste in music, but at least there’s a measure of respect that comes through relationship!
4. Attitude of service.
In the heat of the debate about musical styles and preferences, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that playing in worship is about serving. We can get carried away with the new thing, whether it’s ethnic instruments or symphonic arrangements; but if in the final analysis it doesn’t help the congregation to worship, then it’s useless.
Now I do believe we must move on in our congregational worship, and that may involve introducing things which, initially anyway, may make our congregation feel insecure or uncomfortable. We’re not there as entertainers, to play everyone's favourite songs. But equally we re not there to impose our favourite songs and/or musical styles on a congregation who can t relate to them. Our attitude in preparing to lead in worship should be to please God and serve the people.
For us as leaders, our attitude of servant hood should extend to the group we are leading. We are to treat them with love and respect as we lead them, look for ways to develop their gifts, and seek to impart something of our own gifting and anointing to them.
A classic example of this kind of attitude is in timekeeping. Naturally, if you set a time to begin a rehearsal, people should honour it, and ensure they arrive in time to set up so they are ready to start on time. But equally, you should set a time to finish and stick to it. Constantly allowing rehearsals to overrun shows a lack of respect for people’s time and home commitments.
Obstacles to effective leadership
The points laid out here may throw up issues are not easily resolved. Some we will look at more closely in future issues, but here are a few that immediately spring to mind:
1. Inherited problems. Although a few of us may be starting a team from scratch, most will have assumed leadership of a team that was already in existence, where unhealthy patterns of behaviour and roles are already established. More difficult still, many of us will have come up through the ranks of that group before taking on the leadership.
If the latter is true for you, be warned: people will relate to you differently now you re the boss! Even though you may feel isolated and a little hurt, don’t take it personally. Their apparent indifference and aloofness is not a reflection of your leadership; you probably came over that way to your previous leader!
Even if the group has been together for a long time, it’s good to give the feeling that this is a new phase. Inevitably you are going to do things a little differently, so prepare people for that. After all, it’s an opportunity to hone and reshape things, so that the team is even more effective.
2. Dominant personalities. There are various ways of dealing with this. For example, if a person talks too much in discussions, rather than confronting them, create space for quieter ones to contribute.
If the problem needs tackling, obviously it is better to do it privately than in front of the group. But also remember that often a person’s desire to dominate springs from a very different need in them; a need, for example, to be valued by others. Instead of ignoring them, try positively affirming them. You may find this approach makes them contribute less, not more.
3. Lack of backing from church leadership. This is a common problem for many, for the sort of reasons mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, you may need to take the initiative and tackle the issue with him, uncomfortable though that might be, if you are to have the necessary authoritative backing to do your job.
One root of fear and suspicion in the church is a lack of communication. If you can establish a good rapport, he may discover that many of his assumptions about your plan to wreck his church are unfounded; equally, you might find his anti-everything stance is a little more open than you thought!
Worship has to be a genuine expression of who we are, where we are coming from, and where we desire to go. By looking at a variety of ways to worship, we develop a larger repertoire of ways to respond to God. Some forms of worship will be very meaningful to you, while others will have no impact whatsoever. The goal is to find and utilize those expressions of worship that help you draw closer to God.
· Lifting Hands:
While the lifting of hands in worship is sometimes viewed as a wild, charismatic activity, the Bible paints a very different picture. Lifting hands is often associated with the act of surrendering. It is a vulnerable position & demonstrates submissiveness. Lifting hands to the Lord in worship can be used for several purposes:1
1. It shows our reverence of God and acknowledges His Lordship:
"Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground" (Nehemiah 8:5-6).
2. It is an act of praise and of sacrifice:
"Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord" (Psalm 134:2). "May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice" (Psalm 141:2).
3. It is a physical form of prayer; of entreating for the Lord’s mercy:
"Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place." (Psalm 28:2). "Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street" (Lamentations 2:19).
The basis of each of these purposes is surrender. In our recognition of God’s role in our lives we lift our hands in surrender. In a physical form of praise we surrender our comfort and our self-protection. In prayer we surrender to His will. "I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands" (Psalm 63:4)
In our busy, non-stop world silence is a form of worship that is too often overlooked. Habakkuk 2:20 says, "...the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him." Our worship of God does not always require words, sounds, or actions. "Often our best response to the Lord is simple, quiet awe."3 In silence we can hear God speak and in the midst of our worship, silence can help us stop to truly sense God’s presence. The simple act of silence before God, as opposed to coming to Him in a wordy panic, can also be a demonstration of our faith in Him. Twice in Psalm 62 David displays this kind of faith. In verses 1-2 he affirms, "My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken." In his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald S. Whitney points out that sometimes our faith is shown through a "wordlessness before the Lord which, by its quiet absence of anxiety, communicates trust in His sovereign control." 2
Shouting is a way to show extreme excitement, approval, or praise. We shout for our favorite teams, performers, and even our children. Shouting can also express a firm commitment and determination. Shouting to the Lord can be a way to show both our praise of Him and our commitment to His work. We can shout to show our excitement of what God is doing in our lives, or to praise Him for answered prayer. We can shout our determination to not let our eyes be taken off Him or to defeat satan’s work in our lives. While we may think that church services should always silent and subdued, the Bible urges us at times to express unhindered and extreme praises to God.
Psalm 47:1-6 "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth! He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved. God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praise; sing praises to our King, sing praises."
This is not a portrait of reserved and quiet worship. This is reacting with genuine excitement at the Lord’s work. When was the last time you jumped for joy when God brought someone to salvation or shouted in excitement when He provided the resources you needed? God is pretty awesome and does some fantastic things in our lives. He deserves this kind of excitement.
Isaiah 12:6 "Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."
Psalm 98:4-6 "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the Lord, the King."
Standing is often a form of volunteering or of commitment. In Deuteronomy 29, while God is renewing his covenant with the Israelites, he speaks of standing before him as a commitment to that covenant. Verses 9-13 say, "Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God.... You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God...." Standing can also simply be an act of worship, of awe, and of reverence. In our society standing is way to show honor "as in standing for the entrance of a bride or dignitary."3 God deserves to be honored in this way as we acknowledge His greatness and lordship in our lives.
In Psalm 47:1 we find the appeal, "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy." Clapping can be rhythmical as in clapping in time to a worship hymn or can be in the form of applause.3 Applause to the Lord is different from the applause given at a concert or show. Applauding the Lord can be a way to show our agreement with the truth expressed in a song, it can be a way to show appreciation to the Lord for the way He has touched us in worship, or it can be a way to show our submission to the work of God in our lives. In 2 Kings 11:12 we see applause as a form of commitment, submission, and agreement: "Jehoiada brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him.... They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, ‘Long live the king!’" God’s word says that all creation will clap it’s hands in celebration of Him. Isaiah 55:12 says, "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
Psalm 95:6 & 7 "Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care."
James 4:10 says, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." God has asked us to humble ourselves before Him. Kneeling is definitely an act of humility. It is a blatant statement that you acknowledge the Lord’s rule over your heart and you acknowledge His greatness. Kneeling before God is also an act of surrender; surrender to His will, His authority, His love. Daniel continued to kneel before the Lord in full view of Jerusalem even after he found that doing so would bring him death. He surrendered his very life to the authority of God.
Philippians 2:9 & 10 speaks of Jesus when it says, "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth..." One day we will all kneel before the Lord in full reverence of His power and excellence.
While kneeling in public worship may not be something that you are comfortable doing, consider kneeling before the Lord in your private times with Him. It doesn’t have to be limited to bedtime prayers, but can be a powerful form of worship while reading scripture or just being in the Lord’s presence.
· Giving an Offering:
· Giving an Offering:
I Chronicles 16:29 says, "Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness." In Romans 12:1 we find, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."
Giving offerings to God is a way to show our thankfulness for that which he has provided. In giving back to him of the money he has given us, we acknowledge that this money was a blessing from him. In using our homes or vehicles to minister to others we are again acknowledging that those things are not ours, but God’s. When we are willing to use our strengths, our training, and our experiences for God’s work, we show him our dedication to utilize every part of ourselves for him.
It is specifically the act of giving that glorifies God, not what or how much we give. The sincerity of the worshiper is most important to God: "The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?" says the Lord. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings!" (Isaiah 1:11-13a)
For a nation focused in detailed ritual and tradition, God’s words must have been shattering to their concept of living a Godly life. He has plenty of burnt offerings? He takes no pleasure in the blood of bulls? This must have been terrifying to hear. Even in a society where God had given the Israelites many detailed rituals, his desire for genuine devotion was obviously more important than following the formula. What God was telling the Israelites applies to us as well: It’s not so much about what you give or how much, but that you give with a thankful heart and an attitude of worship.
· Playing Instruments:
· Playing Instruments:
God delights in the use of instruments to praise His name. In I Chronicles 15:16 we see the use of instruments to enhance our worship singing, "David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps, and cymbals." Psalm 150:3-5 demonstrates the use of instruments alone as a way to worship God, "Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals." Even without words, instruments can turn our attention to the almighty God.
Worship the Lord through testifying about His greatness.
1 Chronicles 16:23-25 says, "Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples." The scripture gives a lot of emphasis to testifying about what the Lord has done in our lives. "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you" Psalm 22:22. Throughout the Psalms we see that telling others about the Lord’s work is considered an important form of worshipping him. "My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long" Psalm 71:8.
To worship God in dance is biblical. In fact the Bible encourages it. Psalm 149:3 says, "Let them praise his name with dancing" and Psalm 150:4, "Praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute."
Scripture gives many references to the use of dance as a way to celebrate the Lord and honor Him. In Exodus 15:20 we find that Miriam led all the Israelite women "…with tambourines and dancing…" after God delivered them from the Egyptians at the Red Sea. When speaking of the blessings we will receive in heaven, Jesus told the people to "rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven" (Luke 6:23). After the Ark of the Covenant finally arrived in Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 6:14 tells us that "David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might."
When David’s wife, Michal questioned David’s unrestrained dancing David told her that he was dancing before the Lord, who appointed him as the leader of Israel. He told her that was willing to act like a fool in order to show his joy in the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:21-22)
True praise of God requires participation of our entire being. It requires heart, mind, emotion, and body. Consider dancing before God in your personal times of celebration with Him. Consider leaping for joy when you hear of a soul brought into the kingdom of heaven. Consider glorifying God with your body in response to His exciting goodness.
Since singing is so prevalent in our society it makes sense that singing praises to God is probably the single most common way to worship him. Psalm 147:1 "Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!" 2 Chronicles 29:30 "So they sang praises with gladness and bowed their heads and worshiped."
As with all the forms of worship, it is important that the focus always be on God and not on the worship activity. Many of us enjoy singing and it’s easy to have fun with the act of singing and forget to utilize that as an offering to the Lord. Singing can also become so much a habit that we simply forget that we need to be focusing on God. The songs we sing in worship are filled with insightful words and expressive melodies. Those can really help us experience God if we make a concerted effort to pay attention to those things. Sometimes I find it helpful to stop singing a song and just read the words. You will find some very moving phrases when you are not concerned about what note to sing or how fast you have to sing them. It is also helpful sometimes to just close your eyes and listen to the music. Many songs are written so that even without words you can sense the worship in the notes.
Finally, remember that worship of God is a personal thing. John 4:24 instructs us to worship God in spirit and in truth. Worshipping in truth means that we are true to ourselves, our current situations, and our surrounding. If you come to worship and find that singing is actually distracting you from experiencing God, then stop singing. We come together not to be all the same or follow one set path, but to bring glory to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. If some are singing, others are lifting hands, and still others are kneeling before the Lord, then God will be glorified more completely than if we all force ourselves to participate in one form of worship that may not be true to our present relationship with God.
© 2000 Damon McLay
1 NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House © 1995
2 Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald S. Whitney
3 "Can You Do That in Church?", Rick White, Proclaim! Spring 2000, LifeWay Christian Resources
More Articles …
- Learning to Wait
- Definition of a Worship Leader
- Thoughts on Worship Leading
- A Biblical Philosophy of Worship
- Steps To Equip Leaders To Equip A Team - (which reproduces itself)
- 24 x 7 Worship
- Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs
- Foundations for Worship Ministry - Choosing The Right Tools
- Prayer - The Foundation Of Worship Ministry
- Evaluating Songs for Corporate Worship
- Questions for Evaluating Corporate Worship
- Other Worship Articles
Page 4 of 7