This week’s question is: “What fuels your Sunday worship?”
Just so no one feels restricted, you can respond to that question in a variety of ways. For instance…
- What do you do to prepare for Sunday worship? (i.e. disciplines, habits)
- What do you most enjoy during the worship service?
- What kinds of songs do you prefer?
- What elements can’t you go without in any given Sunday service?
- What gets in the way? What has the potential of hindering you in worship?
- What trends in contemporary worship service do you like? Dislike?
I’ll start. I think I have somewhat particular tastes when it comes to a Sunday worship service. I am willing to sacrifice certain things for the sake of the greater good (I’ll leave it up to you to decide what that means), but here are three things that fuels my Sunday worship:
- Time to refocus the heart: It’s hard for me to drop everything and stop a conversation once the music starts playing. I know that time is often an issue, but things like a passage of Scripture and an introductory prayer are always helpful at the start of a worship service. But even if this is not done regularly before every service, I find that spending time in reflection and praise the night before and the morning of the Sunday service is always beneficial. Whether we see it as a personal matter or not, I am convinced that many Christians merely assume that we’re supposed to just start singing and clapping no matter how inauthentic it feels at first. And what’s worse is, we give ourselves 5 minutes into singing to manufacture some sort of emotions, deceiving ourselves into thinking our hearts are truly engaged.
- Good usage of Scripture: This doesn’t mean only singing psalms or using outdated, archaic hymns (i.e. “On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand…”). And it also doesn’t mean that the speaker has to be jumping all over the place with tons of Bible references. But the Word of God has to be highly esteemed and given its proper place in the service. This can mean time set apart for the reading of Scripture, but I also prefer an intentionality in song choices reflecting the truths of Scripture (not mindless repetition of overly simplistic phrases). For example, contemporary worship services generally do not emphasize God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is often treated as an impersonal force rather than the third Person who shares with us the blessings we have in Christ. Also, many are in the habit of singing only about God’s love, which actually distorts our understanding of the biblical categories of God’s love. Seeing as how much of our theology is shaped by what we sing on Sundays, I feel there is a great need for us to get away from shallowness that characterizes much of contemporary approaches to worship.
- The gospel applied to the heart: I monitor my heart’s response to a worship service by asking questions such as, “Was the gospel preached in a way that calls me to repent of idolatry and renews my faith in Christ?” Most of the time we have a tendency to ask ourselves, “How was I convicted? What areas need to change in my life?” Those questions can be good, but have a tendency to lead to moralism rather than faith and hope in the promises of the gospel. Or we also sometimes have a tendency to ask, “What did I learn?” or “How do I feel?” Learning is good, but that’s not the main goal of a worship service. Feelings can be good, but feelings can also become poor substitutions for true growth. The goal is worship, in the form of turning from false saviors to trust and lean on the true Savior.