How to Fight Spectator Worship

Lights. Camera. Action.

We have all experienced the hair on the backs of our necks stand up from a good show or experience. Maybe the atmosphere was just right or the speaker or musicians were well rehearsed and the performance nearly moved us to tears. We have all also probably been in a scenario where all we could do was grimace and mumble (in our best southern voice) “bless his/her heart.”

When thinking back to either of these experiences did either take place at church?

As ministers we must think about what types of experiences, memories, moments, and performances we putting on each and every week within our houses of worship? Let me ask you: What is memorable? The atmosphere? The quality of performance? That soloist who had the voice of an angel? Or the congregational worship in response to the Spirit of God?

I hope it is the latter. If it’s called a worship service, should there not be more worship going on? This week we are going to discuss maintaining well-balanced worship, and fighting the talent show spectator sport mentality that we often unintentionally instill within or people. Sure, the spectator mentality may not be created intentionally, but it is happening, nonetheless.

Let’s start at the beginning… the diagnosis of the problem.

In “worship,” are we supposed to be participants or spectators?

We all know the answer… participants.

So if we all know the correct answer how does spectator worship still happen? We all can be guilty at times. No style of music or church setting is exempt. Often, contemporary churches create a concert atmosphere. From the style of the music and the way it is presented, to the layout of the “worship center,” there is a feel that is remarkably similar to a concert or a theater experience. For obvious reasons that can get confusing for our congregations, because in theaters and concerts, the audience is not required to participate in way, form, or fashion. Their sole responsibility is to set back, stay awake, and enjoy the show in a consumer-like fashion. But… the “trendy” contemporary churches aren’t the only ones to blame! In fact, many traditional services have beloved hymns that have been sung in the same way for years that take absolutely no thought or “worship engagement” to get through. We have created zombies that can sing melodies! Many traditional services also incorporate choirs that sing songs while the attendees listen or put on special shows that are “concert-like.” Other times, there is “special music” by a soloist or ensemble. The best part, of course, is the “offertory” where a talented musician plays his or her instrument during the passing of the plate and everyone listens to the performance.

So, what’s the problem with “spectator” worship?

Worship is not the same thing as entertainment. Groundbreaking thought I know… unfortunately, the whole approach of much of our “worship services” is nothing more than entertainment with a Christian title. Does a “better” atmosphere mean “better” worship? Does the skill of the soloist, or the intonation of a choir really constitute a better worship experience? Does it truly bring more honor and glory to God if you “jaw-drop” the audience with your guitar solo or piano finesse? But… by breeding a spectator mentality we tend to also breed an entertainment mentality.

Spectators also tend to be prone to the consumer mentality that plagues our American culture. In an age of American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and America’s Next Top Model our culture is filled with “expert” judges and consumers with little knowledge or experience in whatever area they are judging. How many times have we attended a movie or show and immediately walked out giving our thoughts on what was well done and what wasn’t. I have… but the fact is I know absolutely nothing about making a movie. I can give my opinion… but that is all it really is: an opinion. Sometimes we unintentionally drag this consumer or critiquing mindset into church. We leave right after a service and judge the worship based off the quality of the music or even better… the musical selection, and the preaching based off of whether or not we liked the message or the Pastor kept us engaged enough.

These problems undermine true worship, and what we have done by breeding these issues (spectator worship) and not teaching against them has now come to bite us in the rear! You know, recently I was shown an interesting statistic. It is well believed that the average goldfish has a 9 second attention span, and we often joke around with people and say, “You have the attention span of a goldfish.” But… actually a recent study says that an average human attention span is now 8 seconds! You heard me right… 1 second less than that of a goldfish. So the question is… if we allow spectator worship to shape and form our church’s worship can we entertain the people enough? Absolutely not.

So… how do we engage people in authentic God-honoring worship? Let’s think together.


  • Sing songs that people can sing.

It may seem obvious… but we have to start by singing songs that people are capable of singing. As a member of the congregation if I have to watch the “show” more than half the time then we as leaders have missed the point!

The fact of the matter is that too often we are singing songs not suitable for congregational singing. There are lots of great, new worship songs today, but in the vast pool of new songs, many are not suitable for congregational singing because of a multitude of reasons like key, rhythm, melody, etc. But, the truth is though, there are many hymns that aren’t great for our current singing as well because of rhythm, melody, and a language barrier between “old-time” speech and how we talk today.

What I try to keep in mind when selecting songs is that in order for people to sing the songs in any given worship service, the songs have to have a sing-able melody (that doesn’t take a master’s degree in music or 8 hours of practice) and be placed in keys that the common person can sing. You see, we as leaders might think a song is easy, but the reality is that we have been listening and practicing it all week and our congregations only have once on Sunday to sing along. Also, if songs are placed in keys that are too high, many people just stop singing because it hurts to sing high, or they are embarrassed to hear their voice at a raised level when they are trying to reach out and strain to get that note you have asked them to sing.

What we seem to have forgotten is that the average singer has a medium range, and many worship leaders, myself included, have high voices and want to pitch the songs in keys in which they sound the best for us to lead them in. But, we must remember that worship is not about impressing the congregation with our awesome vocal skills. Instead it is about enabling the people to worship, and facilitating that response through our direction (guided by the Spirit of course).

  • Sing songs that people can follow.

Nobody likes going to a concert where you don’t know a single song and have no clue what is going on. Have you ever been to a church service like that? I have… and to be honest my worship through song really suffered.

Many of us Worship Leaders and Pastors love singing new music and are completely wrapped up in that world all week. But to be honest most of our congregation isn’t. They might not be in tune with the newest song or the latest and greatest group. Often the only Christian music they hear is at church! So… sometimes when we don’t balance out our set lists that allow for easy following a congregation ceases its participatory worship in order to learn the new songs or turn totally to spectator mode and treat the song as a “special music” portion of the service.

So… first of all, should we sing new songs in worship? I believe the Bible is clear in that regard. Psalm 33:3 says,

Sing unto Him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.

Psalm 40:3 says,

He put a new song in my mouth.

Psalm 96:1 says,

Sing to the LORD a new song.

Psalm 144:9 says,

I will sing a new song to you, O God.

Psalm 149: 1 says,

Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song.

I could go on and on. Singing new songs is beneficial because they keep us out of a rut, bring us a new sense of freshness and enthusiasm, force us to think about what we are singing, expand our worship vocabulary, and help us capture what God is saying to the body at the time. Newer, contemporary songs generally will connect to today’s culture in a language they understand better than songs several decades or centuries old. Our songs are a vital part of our worship vocabulary. As long as we are singing songs we know, we are able to worship without the hindrance of learning new melodies and rhythms. But, when we place a new song in our times of corporate worship, we can interrupt the flow of worship. When new songs are first introduced, the people have to take their eyes off the Lord and concentrate on the task of learning the new tune. With this in mind, I believe new songs can kill our worship or they can greatly enhance our worship depending on how we balance them and utilize them in our services.

So how do we balance the problem of creating spectators with all the great reasons to include new songs in our worship? The key is how we introduce the songs and the frequency of new song introduction. We must make sure the songs are first sing-able and then gauge our church based off of their ability to pick up on newer songs. The results will vary depending on the average age of your congregation, what types of songs you are playing, and the context you are in.

One thing I would like to clarify is that we don’t need to mistake “unwilling” to learn new songs for “unable.” Sometimes we have a tendency as humans to like things they way they are, and always have been, and we are content in our comfort. We must fulfill the Biblical mandate to sing new songs… so we have to do our job to facilitate that as painlessly as possible.

  • Be ready to teach.

As worship leaders, we often get so involved in our professional production and understanding of worship that we fail to be authentic, invite the congregation into the experience and act of worship, and then do all we can to facilitate that response. Sometimes it is far too easy to lose sight of our purpose of helping the congregation to voice their worship, and letting them know that they have a reason to sing.

Sometimes the “spectator worshipper” mentality just comes from a lack of understanding or education on the subject. We need to take a step back a realize that not everyone is as deeply immersed in worship as we are (I mean it is our job). We must be willing and ready to teach words, teach songs, and most importantly teach each methods, reasons, and purposes of worship.

A functioning understanding often goes a long way.


So how are you fighting the fight against “spectator worship?”

Advertisements

An Invitation

We have all received an invitation to something in our lifetimes. Sometimes we are delighted to receive them in the mail… and other times a sense of dread or obligation comes along with an invitation.

One time interestingly enough I received an invitation for a black tie event for business professionals in the nearest major city to me. Needless to say I was confused and felt very unqualified. I made every excuse to not attend… and I didn’t. Today I wonder what the mix up was, but also what opportunities or connections would have come from that banquet.

John 3:16-17 says,

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

We see in the above passages out of John an invitation to believe and be saved offered by Jesus and the sacrifice He paid. How many of us treat the invitation offered by Jesus in the same way that I treated the black tie event? Maybe we feel unqualified, inadequate, or we are just full of excuses?

Maybe the expectations have been placed too high? Or we’ve been hurt or let down before and we are timid to put ourselves in that position again? Maybe we feel like we aren’t there yet… like we are too much of a project? Maybe you are like me and you feel inadequate or not qualified enough to “mix it up” with the “professionals?”

One of my favorite writers, C.S. Lewis, said,

God doesn’t want something from us, He simply wants us.

There is no mistake. The invitation is yours.

That invitation may be to approach Jesus for the first time… or maybe you are already a Believer and the invitation for you is to take the “next step” and allow Jesus to not only be your savior, but also to be the Lord of your life.

Let’s think together.


Come as you Are

Revelation 22:17 says,

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

We have an open invitation: “Come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” In these and other verses in Scripture, the clear implication is that, even though we are sinners, God desires us to come to Him as we are, so that He can cleanse us.

In one of my Matt Maher songs he says this,

For all the thirsty in need of the river

For all the sleeping hearts waking from their slumber

For everyone still standing at the shoreline, come

 

For all the hurting souls running from their healer

For all the skeptics running from an answer

Let everyone who hears these words say come

 

For the Spirit and the Bride say come

 

For all the Pharisees, empty on the inside

For all the lovers who spent their love on a lie

For the forgotten, the Father’s heart says come

 

For all the fatherless looking for approval

For all the daughters who’ve never heard they’re beautiful

Let everyone who hears these words say come

 

For the Spirit and the Bride say come

In Joel 2:32a says

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.

God’s offer of deliverance is open to “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord.” If we go to the examples of how Jesus dealt with the sinners He encountered we realize that there is no mistake… the invitation is ours and it is genuine!

You know, sometimes we receive those invitations with “fine print.” Maybe we are expected to bring something… a gift, food, etc. Those invitations come with requirements or obligations.

Sometimes us “well-meaning Christians” do that exact same thing. We tell people that they have to “clean up their lives” before God will accept them, but that is not what we see in Scripture. We can come as we are! The invitation has no fine print!

John 8:1-11 says,

They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, He told her, “Go, and sin no more.” The sin was never excused or ignored, but forgiveness was offered to anyone who recognized his sin and was willing to confess and forsake it. God certainly expects us to leave our sin, but that comes as a part of our salvation, not as a prerequisite. We are not able to clean ourselves up without God’s help.

John 6:37 says,

Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away.


You’ve met the Prerequisites

The worst part about college was figuring out what order I had to take all of the classes in order to fit them into a four-year schedule and complete my degree(s) on time. It seems simple… but in reality some classes are only offered at certain times and rotate yearly, other classes have requirements that have to be completed before you are allowed to enroll in them, they are called prerequisites.

Above we discussed the open call or invitation that is offered to us through Christ, and how we didn’t have to “meet” any sort of requirement in order to respond accordingly. In fact, through Jesus we have already met the “prerequisites.” We are all sinners in need of grace. Grace that only faith in Jesus can offer.

In Isaiah 1:18 it says,

Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

God offers the invitation to come, bring your sins and burdens and lay them at the foot of the cross. No matter how far you gone or how broken you are.

There is a story in John 4 that goes like this,

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria.  So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”  Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.

Jesus didn’t and still doesn’t flee from the imperfect… instead He sits beside them and offers “living water” out of love. You know… I often wonder how Jesus loved some of the most unlovable characters. John 3:16 makes it sound easy, when in fact, loving the world wasn’t easy at all! Another story in John 4:46-53 goes like this,

So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”  Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.  As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household.

In this passage we find Jesus interacting with a father who longs for his son to be healed. The only problem is that this father is also an official in Herod’s court. The same Herod who kills John the Baptist, and who is a direct threat to Jesus! But again, Jesus loves the unlovable. He truly “loves His enemies as Himself.”

What do we have to lose? Maybe some pain and guilt?

If you are already a believer what are you withholding from the Lord. Let Him take it.


Leave Something and Take Something

As a kid the best part about attending a birthday party was the “goodie bags” typically offered at the end. The best part about an invitation from Jesus is that we don’t leave the party “empty-handed.”

Matthew 11:28 says,

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

We all bring our own baggage to the party, but the “take home bag” is the same. We can come and bring our junk, lay it down, and take up an inheritance.

Come as you are and allow God to change who you are.

In all of this I am not saying that it is okay to remain in rebellion, but I am saying that true faith in Christ alone will change your life. Come as you are, but you won’t stay as you are because God is working in true believers.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says,

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Galatians 2:20 says,

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.


I will close with these often sung words from David Crowder,

Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been

Come broken hearted let rescue begin

Come find your mercy oh sinner come kneel

Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal

 

So lay down your burdens, lay down your shame

All who are broken lift up your face

Oh wanderer come home, you’re not too far

So lay down your hurt, lay down your heart

Come as you are

 

There’s hope for the hopeless and all those who’ve strayed

Come sit at the table, come taste the grace

There’s rest for the weary, rest that endures

Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t cure

Leading with Presence… with or without Position

Are you a leader?

How and when do you lead? Let me rephrase that question… do you only lead when you have the position or are the focus of others?

Is your leadership dependent on position or place or are you a leader “on” and “off” the field?

Dave Jorn, Arkansas pitching coach, says,

A lot of your success and failure is going on in the locker room. Your leaders are key to managing the locker room.

“Locker Room Leaders” serve as the developers, models, and defendants of your “teams” culture. Through their words and deeds, on a daily basis, this type of leader can make or break a program. They can inspire others to achieve more or can deteriorate and undermine the team atmosphere. Effective “Locker Room Leaders” take pride in your program’s culture and do everything they can to enhance, protect, and preserve it. If someone acts in a way that is outside of what is considered appropriate, they will step in and set the person straight. They willingly and quickly confront those who do not act in a way that is aligned with your program’s vision, values, and standards. Often, effective “Locker Room Leaders” contribute more to your program’s success with their leadership than they do with their individual physical talent.

For example, just recently I was reading an article about the Philadelphia Eagles and their leaders. The coaches and players were polled about who they view as their leaders. Surprisingly enough, Carson Wentz their Quarterback and leader on the field was not who everyone viewed as their team leader. Instead, the safety Malcolm Jenkins was viewed as the most influential leader within the Eagles organization.

So let me ask you a previous question again in a different way… is your Christian leadership dependent on position, place, or ministry title or are you a leader at all times through word and deed?

In my particular area of ministry we can too easily have a mindset that if we are not the rostered “worship leader,” we can rest a bit and just quietly do our thing, and leave the “leadership” and “leading” to the worship leader position only. But… I think that problem exists across the board in churches. Think about it! How many times do we shrug off an opportunity to serve or to lead with the excuse that someone else will do it, or that it is the Pastor’s job?

What I typically tell my teams is that “everyone is a worship leader” and we lead from our presence instead of from our position.

I encourage my whole team, no matter what position they are serving from, to consider themselves as helping to lead the church in worship. The responsibility of leading worship isn’t limited to a rostered position; the responsibility is actually carried by the entire team. The same can be said about whatever area you serve in! The same can also be said about all of us and the way we live for Christ daily. We can lead others to Him and point to His goodness by leading “on” and “off” the field, “in” and “out” of the spotlight.

Every time you step into the world you have the privilege and opportunity to encourage and lead others to worship God, so use everything you have to point people to Jesus… whether that is a “high” exalted position or the lowest of the low. The Senior Pastor I serve under, Herb Williams, has always told me that if revival breaks out he wants to be a part of it… not necessarily serving in leadership, but he is okay with cleaning the toilets if that is what it takes to point people to Jesus. That should be our mindset.

Romans 12:1 says,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.

You may not have a microphone to sing, but you have a voice. You might not have the position, but you have your presence.

In light of this, there are some things to keep in mind. Let’s think together!


  • Lead from wherever you are.

It is not solely up to the worship leader to lead the congregation, and it’s not just up to a Pastor to live like Jesus in the community! Each of us as believers have a responsibility to be leaders wherever we are, and from whatever position or ministry that we find ourselves serving from.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says,

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Maybe your gifting is musical and you find yourself on stage leading others, maybe you are serving behind the scenes with media or sound, maybe you are teaching a class or just helping someone supervise and chaperone children. In all things our first and foremost goal should be to bring God the glory and to serve excellently.

Just a side note for all my musical folks: We are all leaders. If we craft and perfect beautiful songs and compelling setlists, but fail to help carry and engage the church alongside the worship leader, we have missed the mark. You aren’t on stage because of your excellence… you are on stage to lead people into the presence of God.

  • Set the standard.

Being a leader is not limited to a schedule or place. True leaders step into that role and maintain it until they die. A good leader knows when to lead and when to follow, when to speak and when to listen. We set the standard for those around us. For me, that might mean leading passionately and genuinely from stage. For others, that might mean leading the congregation in response to my leading from stage.

As a leader you set the standard. We should have the same level of passion “on” and “off” the field! If we are only able to demonstrate leadership when we are in the front then we have missed the point. The leadership demonstrated in the spotlight should be a mere overflow of the leadership and passion for Christ that we demonstrate everyday. The standard should always remain the same.

  • Make the most of every opportunity.

Our posture is either inviting or distancing people. Whether we like to admit it or not, when we are labeled as “leaders” or as “Christians” people begin to watch us and take notice of even the things we may not be aware of.

In a blog by Autumn Hardman from Hillsong church she says this,

Our body language says more than we think it does. If we have our heads down, solemn faces, rigid bodies, while the worship leader is doing their best to engage and lift the congregation — there is disparity in our message. It’s all of our responsibility to be in unity in leading and encouraging the congregation through whatever position we are serving in.

There is no job too big or too small and we need to make the most of every opportunity placed before us.

Philippians 2:4 says,

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

All of us are actually leaders both “on” and “off” platform and “in” and “out” of the spotlight, and it’s our job to collectively be leading people into the presence of Jesus. All of us have something to bring to the table. Everyone matters. Everyone leads from wherever they are.

Proverbs 11:14 says,

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.


How are you leading?

I Resolve…

It’s that time of the year. Many of us watched the ball drop as December transitioned into January and made resolutions to ourselves about how 2017 is going to be different… be better.

Now it is January 4th and I would love to say that the gyms and fitness centers are full, the cookie jars emptied out, the homes clean, and checkbooks balanced. But… we know that probably isn’t the case. Many of us “resolve” to do things in a New Year and sometimes we develop a new habit and come through for ourselves… but typically our good intentions fall short and remain just as “good intentions.”

If you are like me you don’t set out to deceive yourself or to drop the ball… life just happens right?

I want this year to be different, so below I have listed my Christian resolutions for 2017 as a commitment and reminder that I can come back and reread and recommit to as needed.

Let’s think and commit together.


  • To worship like David.

As a Worship Pastor this might seem like an obvious one… but it really applies to all of us. Too many of us allow our worship to be dictated by something or someone other than ourselves and our response to God.

Has God ever been good to you? Then you have a reason to Worship.

God desires our worship and we should worship with abandon. I resolve this year to worship like David. Many of us are familiar with David as the young man who struck down Goliath with just a sling and a stone. But David also was the young man who had to live many years of his life on the run from King Saul who, out of jealousy of his appointed successor, put a price on his head. In many of David’s writings we can see that the theme of his life was perseverance and trust in God in the midst of unrelenting trial and obstacles.

In fact, many of David’s writings are seen today in the book of Psalm. David didn’t just suffer and persevere in silence! He trusted and sang about his faith in the Lord to be his deliver, shelter, refuge, and hiding place.

Isn’t it a wonderful goal and resolution to sing out about our faith joyfully in the midst of good times and bad?

We can see David’s faith displayed in Psalm 32:3-7. It says,

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ — and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

We can also see it in Psalm 30:11,

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.

David definitely wasn’t a perfect leader or a perfect man, but his faith is something to be admired. King David passionately pursued the Lord and His holiness with no care as to what others might think or say. David truly worshipped with abandon! Let’s look together at how David worshipped and instructed us to worship.

This year my praise will be loud and full of joy. Psalm 47:1 says,

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

In 2017 I will play new songs and practice in order that I may play skillfully like we are instructed in Psalm 33:3,

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

Psalm 81:1-2 says to shout and play a song. It says,

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.

I will lift my hands in worship. Psalm 134:2,

Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!

This year I will worship Him because He is God, and in response to all He has done for His people. I will use whatever resources I have to praise the Lord. Psalm 150:1-6 says,

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

I will bow down. Psalm 95:6 says,

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

The best part about this resolution is that it can be accomplished daily and when we run out of ideas there are plenty more to be found throughout Scripture (particularly in the Psalms).

For those of you who are influential in your congregations or even a Pastor like myself… let me encourage you to lead worship in these ways. In fact, I looked up the word “leader” in the dictionary and you know what it means? “A person or thing that leads.” So as a leader set the example!

How are you teaching others about worship? How are you encouraging them to participate? How are you pushing them to go deeper and engage in worship beyond what they think they can do?

  • To have the faith of Job.

In this past year many of us have endured things we wouldn’t have wished on anyone… even our worst enemies! Some of us have experienced a loss of a job, a relationship, or even a loved one. Some of us may be struggling mentally, emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually. As Christians who hold fast to the Word of God, and believe what it says, we know that these events aren’t meaningless and we aren’t suffering for no reason. It is hard to not ask “why” these things happen… but instead I think we should think of this one truth:

Our suffering only reminds us of the reprobate nature of this life. Everything around us is ultimately dying.

No matter how bad we think our situation is we should never think that God has left us or does not care. God works in mysterious ways and all things work according to His ultimate will and purposes.

Job seemed to understand this idea in the midst of his hardships… unlike myself typically. Job understood that his suffering wasn’t meaningless or for God’s entertainment… and that instead God was using it for His purposes. We may never understand God’s purposes… or He may eventually bless us with understanding. But, either way we must trust. Job 23:8-10 shows this understanding when he says,

But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

From God’s point of view everything makes sense and is according to His plan, but from ours everything can seem messed up. We must remember that the world isn’t always how we perceive it to be.

We know that the world isn’t flat, but from our point of view it looks to be that way. Trust God.

Don’t doubt in darkness what God has proven to be true in the light.

What is God showing us through our trials? What is He teaching us in our suffering?

In this upcoming year I hope to have the faith of Job, more specifically I hope to remain steadfast in times of trial and to hold on to Jesus at all cost.

When Job had lost it all he still didn’t fail to recognize God’s faithfulness. Job 1:20-21 says,

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

This year I wish to have the faith of Job throughout suffering and trial and to take the advice of King David as found in Psalm 27:14,

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!

  • To pray like Jabez

Jabez may be a name that many of us aren’t real familiar with. In fact, it is only mentioned in a few verses of scripture right in the middle of the genealogies in 1 Chronicles (probably not your favorite verses to read and memorize). Some of us may recognize the name Jabez… but the only thing we know about the man is that he prayed a popular prayer that God heard and granted.

In Biblical times, a person’s name was very important. A name often defined a person’s future- or shaped what they would become or the expectations for their life. The name Jabez translate to “he causes pain,” so from the beginning the expectations for Jabez were pretty bleak.

It seems as if Jabez defied his hopeless name and dysfunctional beginning to become a man who believed fervently in the power of God. He prayed with urgency and vulnerability. He cried out to the Lord with boldness! I desire to do that in this upcoming year!

Jabez was honored because of his relationship with God. In fact, 1 Chronicles 4:9 says,

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers…

The record of the genealogy of Judah was interrupted to bring us these details about Jabez. His relationship with God must have been exceptionally noteworthy to cause the author of Chronicles to stop and elaborate on this one man’s life.

Jabez is known for his famous “Prayer of Jabez” mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:10,

Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.

It is a simple prayer prayed in faith and serves as a powerful example of answered prayer and receiving blessing from the Lord.

Jabez understood the power of fervent dedicated prayer and was blessed because of it. I desire to pray like Jabez.

  • To have the obedience of Noah

In a world taken over by evil, violence and corruption, Noah was a righteous man. However, Noah wasn’t just a righteous man; the Bible says he was blameless among the people of his time. It also says that he walked with God.

Noah lived in a society saturated with sin and rebellion against God where right suddenly became wrong and wrong suddenly became right… sound familiar? But yet Noah remained faithful and was the only man alive that pleased God. It’s hard to imagine such unwavering faithfulness in the midst of total godlessness. Over and over again, in the account of Noah’s life, we read, “Noah did everything just as God commanded.” His life of 950 years, exemplified obedience.

During Noah’s lifetime, the wickedness of man had covered the earth like a flood, so God decided to start over with Noah and his family. Giving very specific instructions, the Lord told Noah to build an ark in preparation for a massive flood that would destroy everything on earth. God was going to clean the slate and start over. The ark-building project that God gave to Noah actually took longer than the average lifespan today, yet Noah diligently accepted his calling and never wavered from it, even as the laughing stock of the area.

I resolve to pursue the Lord in obedience even when those around don’t understand or poke fun at me.


How can we as a church resolve to exemplify the Gospel better?