Great Worship Today? Right?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 1, 2021 3 comments

by Chad Koons

I hear this quite often, which I guess is a good thing: “Worship was great today” or something to that effect. And I greatly value any feedback! Yet every single time I hear someone’s approval of our worship service, I just can’t help but wonder what factors made the person feel that way.

I’m glad that they felt something, really I am. And I know what they mean when they say it. But infinitely more important than our assessment is what did the Lord think about it?

Full disclosure: I am a worship leader. So, over the next few minutes you’ll be reading about worship from a worship leader’s perspective.

Let’s begin with an affirmative statement. I thoroughly believe that worship services can be “great.” When we gather together in unity as a body of believers, singing as one, in all sincerity to the Lord, it will be very powerful. The atmosphere will be sweet, the Lord will be glorified, and His presence will be among us. Worship like this is engaging and transformative. The Lord will move prophetically during such worship, touching lives right then and there as we seek only to honor and reverence Him.

Having said that, let’s go a bit deeper into it. And if I may, I’ll challenge us on the matter.

Are we qualified to accurately judge how worship went? Seriously. If I’m completely transparent, I wonder if we have ever stopped long enough to give real thought to our worship. Do we lack the language, tools, and intimacy necessary to be the true worshippers that the Lord requires us to be?

Why do I pose this question? Well, ask most Christians what makes for great worship, and you’ll probably hear something like this:

The MUSIC! Yeah, that’s it. This is just my style. I like the singer. I love the guitar player’s parts. The drums are killing it on this one. Those keys are heavenly. This song moves me and I feel something!

The LYRICS! Now there’s some truth! This song speaks to my current situation, and I’ll repeat that bridge 10x no problem. Here’s some fighting words, I will sing with attitude. This hymn is ancient, and these old words make me feel super grounded. Finally, a song with theology that I 100% agree with!

The PARTICIPATION! The energy is high in this place today! The whole crowd is singing along so I feel part of something bigger. Most of us are super excited right now and that makes me feel excited, too. The people are lifting their hands and responding to the music so surely the Spirit is here!

So if… and follow me here… IF our worship service manages to hit all three of these things, I’ll call them the three “worship drivers” of music, lyrics, and participation, then will we feel that we have achieved “great worship”? This, my friends, is the sad truth of how we judge the quality of our worship.

Let’s have a good look at the problem. Those three things are mostly feelings-oriented, subjective, external, and they may be applied to any sort of live music setting, even a secular concert. And worst of all, these three worship drivers are exclusive of the Spirit. Being moved to good feelings is wonderful, yet that is not the goal nor the proof of a good worship service. God have mercy, worship is not even about us. We do not worship our feelings, we worship the Lord.

Quite frankly I don’t care if someone thinks the worship was great or not. Oh, I care if we did our job as a worship team; it matters that we put in the proper preparation, expression, sincerity, motivation, prayer, and the right content. All of these things will make for a good ministry, so to speak.

Yet let me be abundantly clear: we did not and will not worship the people, nor do we plan to be worshipping someone’s current idea of what they think worship should look like. We worship Him; therefore, we are responsible to create a space and provide songs for the body to worship through. The rest is up to you. What you do with that either creates or negates the worship. I can’t do it for you.

What I do care about is the condition, attitude, and willingness of your heart towards God DURING worship. Your praise and worship are a gift, response, and sacrifice to the Lord. If you continue to just stand there waiting to be moved by the three worship drivers I outlined above, then you are sadly and gravely mistaken. It’s not up to the external motivators, it’s what YOU bring that matters!

Do you know what makes for great worship, Child of God?
This one and only thing right here…
The expressive heart of the worshipper towards a Holy God.

Burn the stage, shut off the power, trash the fancy décor, smash the expensive instruments, remove all of our wildly talented singers and musicians, and tell me if we still have “great worship.”

Give me a room full of genuine worshippers and we will always have great worship.

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Charlie said...

One of the things I cannot stand at the end of a "worship service" is when the lead guitarist finishes a song and then revs up on the guitar to get the crowd going. If you have to "pump up" the crowd, then you haven't been engaging in worship. You have been doing a concert and even wasn't working.

Carl Adkins said...

I think Worship is taught not caught. Emotionalism is caught. Give me a mic and some instruments and I can make you emotional. That is not necessarily worship.
When I look at whether "worship was great" is not how orchestrated the "session" was but I look at how in tune did I become with God.
When I look at a worship leader I am not looking for someone to try to talk me into worshipping I am looking for someone who will worship God themselves and show me the how you worship thus teaching me to worship.
So many times we look for words that will move people instead of moving God.
We have to be careful of the songs that we don't sing lies. Example: There is a song that says "I'm desperate for you... ". Really??? In my opinion that is a song only an individual could sing to God. I don't see it as a congregational song because many of the congregants are not desperate for God. That is not to criticize or judge but that is the truth. When we are desperate for God worship is not a problem to do.

Stephen Meiner said...

I find it difficult also, Carl ...singing some songs. I can't bring myself to sing the song, 'I Surrender All' I know I never surrender 'all', whether knowingly or not. I change the words, and sing "He surrendered all", as Jesus truly did. God bless!!