Worship and the Kingdom-Centered Church
Warren Wiersbe has defined worship thusly, “Worship is the believer’s response with all that he is — mind, emotions, will, and body — to all that God is and says and does. This response has its mystical side in subjective experience, and its practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed truth. It is a loving response that is balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better.”

Worship may sometimes be entertaining, but it is not about entertainment. Authentic worship is the believer’s response to the self-revelation of God. Worship originates with God and demands the response of His people. Worship’s primary goal is to give glory and honor to God, and, when authentic, always results in the edification of the worshipper, leading him/her to serve the living God Who is the object of worship. Thus, worship involves both giving and receiving, commitment and blessing. True worship is balanced, involving the mind, emotions and the will of the worshipper. It incorporates both attitudes (such as reverence, awe, joy and respect) and actions (such as bowing, praising, serving and giving). It will always call us to the ends of the earth with the passion that all nations and peoples will be able to worship their rightful King.

For the participant, worship involves praise through music, prayer, the reading and preaching of the Word, and an appropriate response by the commitment to serve. Music, for many, is the central thread of worship which knits the various elements in a symphony of praise presented to the Father. The style of music will vary from context to context and from continent to continent. Music that is culturally suitable and theologically sound should be chosen with the singular purpose of leading God’s people to focus on and adore God alone. It should be presented positively and powerfully with a desire to offer the King our best. We should sing the hymns and choruses with attention to the words since these are covenant commitments to the King of kings.

Corporate prayer should be a central component of worship and not an afterthought that allows the participants on the platform to shift positions while “every head is bowed.” Prayer provides the opportunity for the worshipping community to come boldly before the throne of grace in the presence of the Creator and King. It enables us to verbally acknowledge His presence, to stand before Him in praise, to confess our sins, to seek forgiveness, to offer ourselves to God as tools through whom He can advance His Kingdom, to ask provision for our daily needs, to intercede for the nations and to offer thanksgiving to our gracious God.

The reading and reciting of Scripture should be a central component of our worship. The Word of God has inherent dynamic power. The preaching of the Word is the centerpiece of worship. It is very simply declaring the truth of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. The sermon must first be an exposition of God’s Word which will address man’s most critical needs and concerns. The role of the worshipper is not to critically evaluate the sermon or the skill of the one delivering it, but to listen for the voice of God and respond with obedience.

Worship through the giving of our offerings should never be misconstrued or presented as a means of subscribing our budget or paying our bills. It is a vehicle for expressing our dependence upon God and our gratitude for His loving provision for all our needs. The giving of His tithe and the presentation of our offerings is an acceptable and appropriate sacrifice of a priestly people. Tragically, we have divorced the giving of money from its theological foundation and thus we have trivialized it, making it little more than a punch line to a trite joke about a Baptist meeting. If we are serious about advancing the Kingdom, we will rejoice when given the opportunity to worship God through our gifts with the sure knowledge that He provided all that exists with the intention of reaching the nations.

Authentic worship always calls for the worshipper to respond through commitment. The call to commitment is the natural and spontaneous outflow of true worship. Every time we worship, we should each ask ourself: “What has God said to me and what must I do about it?”

Kenneth S. Hemphill is the national strategist for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Empowering Kingdom Growth emphasis, on the Web at www.empoweringkingdomgrowth.net.

© Copyright 2007 Baptist Press