"Wow, that worship service was amazing."
It's a phrase we all hear, all the time. Whether you're leaving the arena after a Jesus Culture concert or driving to the buffet after Sunday's worship, we've all said it.
But what is it, I wonder, that constitutes "incredible" worship? Because you may be reading this article and thinking, "My church's worship is far from great. Matter of fact, it's terrible."
Oftentimes, our judgment of a worship service comes down to how it makes us feel. If it was charged with emotion, we like it. If the band has it together, we like it. If it's not so loud that our eardrums hurt, we like it. If they sang "Oceans," we like it.
That's also what scares me about our modern worship culture. We attend concerts, idolize artists, and chase experiences because of how they make us feel.
But it can leave us discontented with the local church God has called us to and distract us from asking the most important question of all.
The Most Important Question
"What kind of worship is incredible to God?"
That truly is what matters, because worship is for God. Worship is an offering that rises to Him. It's for His praise, glory, adoration, fame, honor, renown, exaltation.
Can you hear it? Romans 11:36 echoes throughout the world:
"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."
"What kind of worship service is incredible to God?"
The question is important for various reasons. First, it puts the responsibility on the worshiper. It undercuts consumerism.
Great worship isn't just the performance of a great band, it's God's holy people laying their lives down. I have a responsibility. You have a responsibility. We are all called.
Second, it reminds us that God is the only One who can judge the quality of worship. It's not based on how many top CCLI songs you cover as good as the artists. It's not about how well your worship set flows.
It's "was my heart, soul, mind and strength fully engaged in the exaltation of God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, by Jesus Christ?"
3 Steps to Leading Incredible Worship
So people of God, what is a great worship service? And how can we do our part to make sure it happens every time?
1. Spirit and truth. When the Bible says, "These are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks," we should be paying attention.
"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" (John 4:23).
God desires worship that is based in truth and led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads our hearts to the true knowledge of God. We must worship God for who He is in all of his glory, wonder, goodness, terror, beauty, tenderness and grace.
2. Obedience. On the other hand, when God says, "Away with the noise of your songs. I despise your sacred assemblies," in Amos 5:23, we should also be listening. In this passage, Israel, God's chosen people, were having worship services. They were celebrating, singing and lifting praise to God.
The problem with this celebration was that they were a disobedient people. They were singing praises while ignoring God's commands to meet the needs of the marginalized. "But let justice roll like a river, mercy like a never-failing stream."
Incredible worship will always be rooted in a singular desire to obey God. We want to do what pleases Him. That is the truest expression of our worship. Don't allow yourself to raise your hands at a worship concert while ignoring the will of God the next morning.
3. Fear. Consider this: "Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in his steadfast love" (Psalm 33:18).
If you want God's attention during worship, you must fear Him. Without the fear of God, our worship is flippant. It keeps us humble, gazing, bowing, trusting (For more on this idea of fear, check out this post).
But the verse doesn't stop there. It seems to equate fearing God with hoping in his steadfast love. Which tells me that the fear of God isn't just a mental assent to respecting His majesty and holiness. A true fear of God will take action, place hope, bank its life on Jesus.
I know this post didn't outline some practical pointers on what songs to sing, instruments to use, DB level to run, and how many musicians to have on stage.
Why? It's because a great band or a great song doesn't make an incredible worship service. It's about what God seeks, what God desires, what God has said.
God is seeking spirit-and-truth worshipers. He is after an obedient life. His eyes look to those who fear Him. This is the most incredible worship service to God's heart.
But the answer is far from exhaustive. I need your help. What would you add to the list?
What, in your opinion, is the most awesome worship service ever?
What are the qualities? The characteristics?
David Santistevan is the worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh. For the original article, visit davidsantistevan.com.
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