Start This, Stop That: Worship

August 10th, 2012

“…True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.
The Father is looking for anyone who will worship Him that way.” John 4:23 NLT

What would it take to stop worship at your church?

Organ blows out? Preacher gets sick? Choir doesn’t show? Building burns down? It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t give a lot of instruction as to how we are to worship God. Harvest was mobile for our first seven years, so we know you can have worship without a hymnbook, choir or building. We didn’t have much, but worship happened, and people accepted Christ.

Even after a generation, there are still a lot of debates today about style of worship. I hope you aren’t having one at your church right now. “Debate” is the nice way of saying it, because a debate seems orderly and respectful. But some churches find themselves in a backyard brawl over worship styles: “traditional vs. contemporary,” “band vs. choir,” “robe vs. blue jeans.” I have a feeling that God is not pleased with our debates.

This is not a chapter about worship style. We don’t care what kind of style you use. Whatever you do, worship “in spirit and truth.”

Worship in spirit

This involves your attitude, your heart, and the core of who you are.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38 NLT

Worship in truth

This means be real, get honest, don’t play games, and don’t use rituals to go through the motions of worship.

“Your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath day, and your special days for fasting – even your most pious meetings – are all sinful and false…I hate all your festivals and sacrifices. I cannot stand the sight of them!” Isaiah 1:13-14 NLT

If you are a liturgical church, worship with the richness of the liturgy. Light the candles, play the anthem, recite the Affirmation of Faith. But do it all in spirit and truth to God.

If you are a contemporary church, worship with your blue jeans and band. Use technology, play a video clip and rock your little hearts out! But do it all in spirit and truth to God.

Liturgy is not bad, except when it becomes stale and people don’t remember the meaning behind the ceremony.

Contemporary is not bad, except when it becomes a show and people focus on goose bumps instead of God.

While we don’t want your building to burn down or your choir to not show, it is good to strip away everything we do that we call worship and say, “Ok, what do I need to do to worship God in spirit and truth right here and right now?”


Excerpt from the authors' book Stop This, Start That: Do the Things That Grow Your Church. Used by permission.

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