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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The "Worship War" We Should Be Waging...

I just came home from our monthly music practice and read some emails that contained feedback about the music in our church (which I had asked for). So church music is on my mind right now, as are the intense and emotional responses that it often illicits, and I wanted to point out that while most "worship wars" and unnecessary and destructive to a church, there is one kind of worship battle that we should all be fighting... the battle we fight in prayer! (See Eph. 6:18) If we talked to the Lord more about the music in our churches, we probably would be less critical and less disappointed/frustrated when it's not what we like.

So toward that end, here are the prayer requests I put together awhile back as a part of our Vision/Prayer project for Faith Church. It starts out with our "core value" of God-Centered Worship, a brief explanation of what that means, and then the requests, which also reflect a lot of the philosophy behind what we do in our Sunday services (so you may find it helpful in that regard).

God-Centered Worship
Sunday services that enable us to see the greatness of God in all His attributes, bringing joy to His heart and to ours through singing, praying, confessing, learning, and communing.

Pray that all the believers who gather to worship at Faith Church on Sundays would be there primarily to please God, and their hearts will be focused on what honors Him much more than on their own enjoyment. Pray that those who plan and lead worship would also be thinking this way, and would constantly find ways to remind and encourage people to focus on the Lord rather than on themselves.

Pray that our Sunday worship would represent God accurately and reflect His Divine attributes in a balanced way, so that the members of the body and anyone who joins us would see Him in all His glory. Pray that our worship would communicate both His transcendance and His immanence, the fact that He is both a God of the ages and a God of today, and the balance of formal order and informal spontaneity that is revealed in His creation. (This is why elements of our worship are both “traditional” and “contemporary”—why we sing both old and new songs, for example, and offer some prayers that are scripted and some that are spontaneous.)

Pray that we will always follow a thoughtfully planned, theologically-informed order of worship (Praise, Renewal, Commitment, and Communion), so that people will develop good habits in worship, and that we will always include the scriptural elements of singing, praying, confessing, learning, and communing. But pray that we will also have variety in the way we practice the order and elements, so that we might reflect both the order and variety in God’s character and creation.

Pray that our worship music would always be biblical in its content, and that those who lead and accompany the singing would always plan and practice their ministry in a way that encourages participation from the congregation, rather than performance from the people up front. Pray that the style of the music will have variety, for the same reason mentioned above, but that it also will “flow” with enough uniformity that the variety will not be a distraction to the worshippers.

Pray that the pastor would at least be involved in the planning of the Sunday worship, if not leading some himself, but that through him God would also raise up others who can participate in this ministry, and carry it on “in stride” if the pastor is not there.

Pray that we will make use of all the musical talents of the people who attend the church and who are led by God to serve in this way.

Pray that our worship would serve as a model to other churches, and that God would give us opportunities to encourage and train others in this God-centered, biblically balanced approach.

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