Worship Wars

Worship wars have been going on a long time. Thousands of years, really. There has been a battle raging over worship ever since God created man in His image and gave him free will to choose.  People can freely choose to worship God, or freely choose to not worship God.

In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted, just like Adam and Eve, to change the direction of His worship. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)

In framing a discussion about worship, we should be aware that from the beginning of history, there has been, and is now, an on-going contention for the hearts, minds and souls of men and women. This is the real Worship War. What we commonly think of  as “worship wars” – battles over subjective matters of cultural preference, music style and the like – are an extension of this inherent conflict.

Worship is a huge and inexhaustible subject, as big and dynamic as God himself, for worship is oriented first and foremost in the essence of God.

The human response to the reality of God – worship in spirit and truth – begins in the human heart.

It is the heart that God is primarily interested in. God the Father is looking for those whose hearts are directed towards Him. We’ll talk a lot more about that in this series.

Biblical Reform

Every church, no matter the type, has a liturgy, or order of worship. Every church has some type of  approach to worship, a tradition, the way they do things.

So here’s a dangerous question, “Why do we do the things we do, the way we do them?”

When asked in the right spirit, this question should lead to the deconstruction of what God does not want, and the reconstruction of what God does want.

So how do you know what God wants and does not want? We start in the word of God because most of it is pretty clear.

What does God not want? Stuff like pride, hard-heartedness, lip service, consumerism, materialism, dead ritualism, legalism, individualism,  idolatry of anything including the ‘worship of worship’, the list could go and on … and will ….

What does God want? Basically everything. All of our heart, mind, soul and strength. He wants to be our God, and for us to be His people. Simple, but not easy.

Is it time for biblical reform in your context? Maybe “adjustments” or tweaks would be a nicer way to say it.

Why Theology is Important

Thinking theologically helps us develop a theory of practice with application based on biblical understanding and values.  We can clarify, then discern what is and is not true, necessary or appropriate according to scripture.

A biblical understanding of worship should be normative (the starting point) for decision making, especially regarding cultural and stylistic choices.

Church culture is shaped profoundly by leadership, the choices we make, the values we live out, what we teach and model. At stake are the two major issues of identity and destiny.

  • Identity addresses the questions of:  Who is God? Who Am I? Who Are We?
  • Destiny addresses the questions of:   Where Am I Going, Where Are We Going? Where Is God in all this? What is going on?
  • Our worship practices are intrinsically spiritually formative.
  • They powerfully and regularly  inform the worshiper’s questions about identity and destiny.
  • The worship culture of a church either helps people grow in their understanding and love for God, or not.
  • The fruit of that culture will either be pleasing to God, or not. 

The bottom line is this.

Are we doing things God’s way, or not? Are our worship practices what God wants, or not? How do you know?

We start in the word of God because most of it is pretty clear.

God’s way advocated in Scripture

These scriptures direct us to study God’s word in order to know His ways.

26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known. Deuteronomy 11:26-28

16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4;16

My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. (Hosea 4:6)

God’s way revealed by the Holy Spirit

The scripture also informs us that God reveals His ways not only by the written word, but also by the Holy Spirit. We need both, the Word and Spirit.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

The Era in Which We Live:

More Light

Right now, there is a worldwide explosion of worship expression unparalleled in the history of the world.

  • There is more Christian worship music than ever before.
  • There have never been so many worship songs composed, worship recordings produced, released and distributed.
  • Worship songs and artists gaining mainstream popularity through media.
  • More worship than ever is transmitted and broadcast on TV, radio, and internet.
  • There are more churches than ever.
  • The House of Prayer movement is perpetuating sustained worship and prayer all over the world 24/7 , 365.

In short, there is a worship movement going on that is shining more light in the darkness than ever before. Personally, I have experienced moments all over the world, when a little bit of heaven seemed to touch earth, and every tribe, nation and every tongue declared the glory of God.

It does seem possible that the return of Jesus could be in this or the next generation. Who knows?

Even More Darkness

At the same time, this could be the darkest time in history. Sensuality and depravity seem to be the culture norm.The world is under increasing stress and pressure. Everything that can shake seems to be – shaking.

6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. Matthew 24:6-8

While in some parts of the earth there seems to be genuine spiritual awakening and turning towards God; much of the world remains non-Christian, anti-Christian or has become post-Christian.

Generally speaking, most people are Biblically illiterate.

This is true in the Christian world, in our churches, and even includes folks involved in worship music. Too many are uninformed of the most basic premises of biblical worship.

This is why I designed this series to comprehensive, clear and easy to understand.

Who Will Benefit From Practical Theology of Worship ?

This series is intended for:

  • Anyone who wants a starting point to understand biblical worship
  • Worship team folks who need foundational biblical training
  • Leaders who want a refresher and/or a unique perspective on how to equip your teams
  • Leaders who want a method to teach this themselves to their people

What are your questions as we develop this series? I would love your feedback in the comments.

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