I have been thinking a lot about what it takes to build a worship service and even a worship ministry. What should we desire in the worship services and for the worship ministries in a local church? Let me suggest we should build our worship services upon four vital words.
We need to sing worship songs that are built upon a proper theology. Our view of God is obtained from Scripture. God’s sovereignty, holiness, justice and love always must receive our highest understanding of who God is. Throughout history, songs have entered into the repertoire of the church that are not the best theological representation. Every now and then this even happens in our church. Lyrics must always be filtered through the Word of God and the theological truths of Scripture. Music theory and rhythm are not the test. Theology is the test.
Regardless of style or preference, worship songs must be biblically faithful and theologically sound. When they are not, they are not worship songs, but just songs.
Authenticity is often mentioned when relating to worship today. In reality, this is not a new word or conviction about worship. The pastor as the worship leader of the church and the leaders who assist his direction in worship must be people of truth, conviction and authenticity. They do not need to portray what they are not. Authenticity is never a strain; it is who we really are.
When people enter our churches and we request their involvement in songs of worship, the pastor and leaders are not performing, but worshiping. They are not coercing, but cooperating with God and what He wants to do with His people. They are not cheerleading, but are both leading and joining in experiencing the presence of God with the people of God.
There is nothing like being in the presence of the Lord with the people of God.
The quality of worship cannot be underestimated. I believe it is not a matter of band-driven worship versus orchestra-driven worship; it is a matter of the quality of worship that we witness and experience. If the quality is poor, the door is usually closed. If the quality is good, the door is usually opened. Regardless of the style, people expect and should expect our highest quality expressed in worship.
Practically, why would we want to not give God our very best? The quality of the worship experience is done to the glory of God, not the exaltation of a talent or human personality. You may have a style of worship music you prefer, but if that style is done poorly, your heart is quenched. Therefore, I submit that the quality of our worship is much more important than the style of our worship. People know we take worship seriously when our worship is offered in the highest quality.
I am not a mystic, but worship is a spiritual experience. When worship songs are truthful in theology, led by authentic pastors and leaders in the highest quality offered to God, the presence of God grants us a deeply spiritual experience with God. We experience the manifest presence of Jesus Christ.
When Isaiah looked up to God highly exalted and worshiped Him in spirit and truth, he was driven to look within himself, becoming humbled by his own sinfulness. God became attracted to the transparency and humility of Isaiah and He touched him, removing all of his sinfulness. It was only then, after Isaiah looked upward and then inward, that God directed him to look outward. Therefore, Isaiah submitted to God’s calling and said, “Here am I, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
This dynamic experience in the highest way is spirituality. When God meets with us, worship is experienced profoundly and personally. It ultimately leads us to impact others, especially those who need a relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is not as much about the style of songs we sing or the clothes the worship leader wears; it is all about the presence of Jesus among His people.
In all humility, I submit to you these four words should build a worship service. A reduction of even one of these four may lead you into error or emptiness.
Ronnie Floyd is senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and founder of the Cross Church School of Ministry. This article first appeared on his blog at ronniefloyd.com.