Posted by: Hugh Griffiths | May 3, 2007

The focus of our worship

glory-of-the-lord.jpg

To follow on from yesterday’s post about some US churches choosing to adopt secular U2 hits for the communion service, I want to post a link to another article which provides a real contrast. In this article, Rick Warren picks up the core issue: God – not man – is the focus and center of our worship

This has massive implications for how we worship and, particularly, directs our priorities when we consider making adjustments to our services. As the article goes on to say ‘God is the consumer of worship’ – not our guests. 

My only concern with Rick Warren’s article is that it does say we should adjust our worship styles and practices ‘when unbelievers are present’. I suppose the big question is what sort of adjustments those should be. Unless we are careful to maintain a sensitivity first to the Spirit of God, it would be all too easy to move too far down the ‘acceptable’ route – perhaps by singing U2 songs.  This sort of caution was expressed, quite correctly, by one commenter on yesterday’s post.

What is my heart for guests at our corporate gatherings? I pray that the manifestation of spiritual and particularly prophetic gifts would be so dynamic that anyone visiting ‘will worship God and declare that God is really among you’ (1 Cor.14:25).  In case we were in any doubt what the apostle Paul had in mind, these verses set out his hope that for one coming in to our meetings

  • he is convicted by all
  • he is called to account by all
  • the secrets of his heart are disclosed

Don’t see much of that being written about for seeker-sensitive services!

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Responses

  1. Hi, Hugh.

    The Rick Warren article was really good. I do agree, however, with your point about maintaining sensitivity to Holy Spirit first. Our head elder shared his heart at Lifegroup last night, about longing for and touching the depths of the Glory of God. Ultimately, it is the deep, abiding Presence of His Glory that will draw them to Himself and into His family. If we tend to His business with His Heart – and listen to (and speak with) His voice – He will manifest His Presence, and they will come to Him in our midst.

  2. I’m not sure about that article by Rick Warren. He talks about God being the consumer of worship and the centre and focus of it all which of course is absolutely right. But if you read the whole article it seems that in his mind the consumer and focus of worship is actually unbelievers! There is much more in the article about tuning your worship services to make them accessible to unbelievers than seeking to worship God in spirit and in truth. And this is a guy who’s church provides 8 different worship venues, each with a different style of music because “Not everyone has the same taste in worship style.” Who’s the consumer there?!

    If non-Christians are to be saved through our worship it should be through the dynamic, life-changing power of the Holy Spirit on display – not because of the quality of the musicianship or the style of music. I’m not for dumbing down worship services one bit – if something is genuinely of the Spirit, how dare we discourage it?

  3. Just posted a U2 comment before reading this and I think my comments there are answered here. I love listening to rock music, folk, jazz, classical, R&B, and the list goes on… But that is my personal taste in easy listening pleasure. When I worship I just want to ‘be a sweet sweet sound’ in God’s ear. I want to touch the heavens and reflect Jesus to anyone listening. I can go into a traditional chapel based denomination and hear high pitched old ladies and a booming organ playing hymns hundreds of years old … and know that the Lord is right there in their midst because their praise is from their hearts and their focus is on Him. Alternatively I can be listening to an enthusiastic worship leader with a rousing voice, accompanied by backing singers and a full band rocking away the latest releases from Hillsongs …and just feel it was a good show. We can’t work up the presence of God just by pleasing our ears. And I agree that no-one was ever saved by a fancy guitar riff but rather by the one who gave us the reason to sing and play and dance with joy. So whether it be Delirious or Amazing Grace, Hillsongs or How Great thou Art, His Glory will shine if we sing for Him.


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