Worship 3

This course is designed to evaluate the student’s current worship service and try to determine what works and what may work better if changed.

The final class on worship is designed to look at the four aspects of worship in the New Testament and attempt to draw everything together so that you may apply what you’ve learned to both your personal life and to your church.

Because the nature of this course is more evaluation than instruction, there are no right or wrong answers and there is no “answer key.”  You are encouraged to answer each question as accurately as possible regarding your worship service.

So far we’ve looked at preparation for worship, worship styles, what worship is supposed to be and the conflict between traditional and contemporary worship.  Finally, we’ll look at the model set for us in the New Testament and try to draw some application from all of it.

The Early Church

In the book of Acts, the church is formed.  The apostles go throughout Jerusalem, Judea, and all of the world setting up churches.  In the rest of the New Testament, some guidelines are given on how worship is to take place.  From what is written, we know that a typical church service contained four parts.

Worship
Instruction
Fellowship
Evangelism

That acronym spells out WIFE so it’s easy to remember.  I have been saying that there are four parts to worship even though worship is only one aspect of this service.  I say this because when proper worship occurs all of the other aspects will take place.

When believers receive instruction from the word of God and act on it, God is glorified.  When Christians unite together in praising God, I can think of no greater fellowship than one body whose sole purpose is to glorify the Lord.  Finally, when unbelievers see this occurring, they are evangelized.

This last part is important because many people see worship and evangelism as an either/or.  It is in fact a both/and.  If an unbeliever is in a church service and sees everyone around them united together in glorifying God, they are going to see the difference God has made in their lives.  They are going to want to be a part of that.

Break down approximately what percentage of your Sunday morning church service is given to each part:

Worship
Instruction
Fellowship
Evangelism
Other

Note that each part does not have to be 25% to achieve a good balance.  Paul, during a night service, preached past midnight and a young man fell asleep and fell out of a window.  Quite obviously, the church did not spend that much time in fellowship or singing songs that night.

As I mentioned with worship, more than one thing can be accomplished in one action.  When Paul went into a new city, he spoke at the synagogue.  There he instructed Jews on what the Old Testament said about Jesus, but he was also evangelizing them.

Each church has an emphasis to its service.  Based on how much time is spent on each aspect, what is the emphasis of your service?  What gets left by the wayside?  What could be done to encourage this more in your service?

Tying it all Together

Now comes the part where this course makes a difference.  We need to apply all of this.  On an individual basis this is easy.  As a church, you’ll need to talk to your pastor or someone in leadership if you hope to see changes – even then it isn’t easy.

If you had complete control over worship, describe what elements the perfect worship service would have.  Include the amount of time spent on each element. 

How much of your current worship service would need to be changed to reach what you would consider perfect?

When it comes to affecting your worship service as an individual the best thing to do is what we discussed in the first session, pray.  You can pray for your worship service that people may be moved by what occurs in the singing, drama, or sermon.  Pray for your pastor as he prepares for the sermon.  Pray for the hearts of everyone in the congregation that they may be open to a different style of worship if the need is there.

Preparation is another important key.  Worship is so much easier when we come into church Sunday morning with a good attitude already.  Either alone or with your family, spend some time Saturday night or early Sunday morning reading the Bible, praying, and focusing on the goodness of God.  Worship will come much easier.

If such a group doesn’t already exist, you may organize a group to pray for your church.  There are hundreds of things that you can pray for, but praying specifically for the worship service, the musicians, and the pastor really does make a difference.  You can also pray for the congregation that there would be no divisions among them when the time comes to worship.  Trust me, in every church there are divisions among people.

What can you do or like to do that would affect your personal worship?

When it comes to a worship style, honestly, you may be stuck with what you have.  Churches are adverse to change and just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean that everyone will step back and let you do it.  Don’t give up hope though.

Start small.  If you only have hymns that have gotten out of touch but an older generation refuses to let them go, see if you can get a chorus in every once in a while.  Some will hate any change but some may like having a new song, drama, or another part of worship.  If the service has gotten out of hand and there are parts that are definitely not worshipping God, suggest that they might be better placed in an evening service or some other time when they aren’t classified as worship.

If no changes come about, don’t be discouraged.  To say that worship is what you make of it would be cliché, however, in one sense it is true.  Even if your service has old, slow hymns, you can focus on what they are saying about God and sing them out.  Hopefully other people will notice and want to know what has made the difference.  If choruses have gotten repetitive or a soloist is drawing too much attention to themselves, draw the good from it.  If you don’t allow it to distract you, you can find something with which to focus on God from them.

Even if you have to start small, what can you do to bring about a change in worship style at your church?

Finally, remember the four parts of an early church service: worship, instruction, fellowship, and evangelism.  If something is missing from your church, work to include it as part of your service.  Have coffee available between Sunday school and worship and give fifteen minutes of time if your church lacks fellowship.  Add a drama or another song if you need more worship time.

These are just a few ideas on what you can do.  There are many creative churches that are doing different things.  Some things work well in one church and are a disaster in another.  In one part of the country they may work well, in others it won’t.  Outside of the United States, some of these ideas will work, others will not.  Use discretion when suggesting any changes.  Some things are in place for a good reason.  Other things are done the way they are because they have always been done that way and no one has taken the time to evaluate whether it meets your current needs or not.  You know your church, I don’t.  If you need more ideas, read a book on worship and read what some other churches are doing.  You can learn a lot from what others have tried and where they might have failed.

Worship is such a broad topic that I have barely scratched the surface.  It has been debated for centuries.  What we should or should not call worship has been questioned.  This I do know, we are called to worship.  Worship is our action that brings the glory to God of which He is worthy.  The Bible makes no statement that considers one type of worship better than another.  If it can be used to bring glory to God, it can be used to worship Him.

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