Like many others, I love browsing through Unsplash.com for royalty-free high resolution images. As I was scrolling through their gallery, I ran across an image of worship that really struck me. You can see it above.
When it comes to worship, people often get wrapped up in style of worship and forget the substance of worship. This photograph, though, is a visual reminder of what worship is really about: prayer and communion with God.
There are a few things that this singular image teaches us about worship.
The style of worship doesn’t matter
The service style appears to be more contemporary based on the instruments, lighting, and overall atmosphere. Some people don’t like contemporary services, seeing them as mere concerts. While that is a danger, it is not one limited to contemporary services. A case could be made that the “special music” in many traditional services are merely abbreviated concerts: the congregation generally listens rather than sings and thus the singer is often the primary focus.
However, take a look at the image above. Although the worship leader is still singing, this woman has come before the throne of God. It wasn’t about the style of the music, but the substance of the worship service, namely, the Holy Spirit. He led this woman to humble herself before her Savior. The Holy Spirit used the worship service to draw someone to God.
Whether your service is liturgical or non-liturgical, traditional or contemporary, the style doesn’t matter. Rather, it’s the substance–the Holy Spirit–that matters.
Worship services are about drawing people to God
Jesus said that we are to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23). In other words: God is the object and subject of worship (truth) and we come in humility, prayer, repentance, and faith (spirit). The picture above pictures both the spirit and truth of worship.
Notice also that the worship team is still playing a song. This reminds us that whatever the service style, the worship team (whether a band, an organ, or something else) has one goal: draw people to the throne of God. This is done by providing music that fits the community and proclaims biblical truth (I go into more detail in the sermon below).
Worship leaders should ensure that their focus isn’t on pleasing the ears of the audience and pandering to their musical whims, but is about creating an environment that draws people to God. Make Christ the focus of the worship service.
God is more important than the music, sermon, tithes, or any other part of the service
No single part of the worship service event is any more or less important than the other.
Some of my Southern Baptist friends will balk at that, I’m sure. Why? A commonly taught view is that the sermon is the center, the pinnacle of the worship service. Catholics and possibly some liturgical Protestants might argue that Communion is the most important part. Others may say the music is the top priority, or prayer, or something else.
However, none of these are the most important, but all are equal in value. The most important part of a worship service is God himself!
Every part of the worship service is about pointing people to God, drawing people to God, introducing people to God, teaching people about God. Whether it’s the music, sermon, prayer time, offering, or Lord’s Supper, they are all about God. He is the priority in worship. Whenever we make something else the most important part, they we elevate something into an idol. God used music, biblical teaching (preaching), Communion, prayer, and many other things to help us worship him. As such, each of these should work together, not be pitted against each other.
In worship services let’s keep Christ the focus. Where he is lifted up and exalted, people are more inclined to enter into worship.
When you look at the image above, what lessons do you learn about worship? How can it help inspire you to improve your worship experience?