A Worshipful Response

I have had the honor of leading worship professionally for 15 years. That number amazes me. In many ways I can’t believe that I’m old enough to have done anything for 15 years. But, that’s the truth. Over those years God has taught me many things and I look forward to all that He has to teach me over the next 15 and beyond.

Something that amazes me is the variety of responses I see in worship services. As we have traveled from congregation to congregation over the last 7 years, we have seen a tremendous variety. We have seen people jump up and run around the sanctuary. We’ve seen people sit stone-faced in complete silence. We have also seen lots of congregations in the middle of these examples.

This past week, I was starting our service and after greeting our people, I asked this question, “Have you come ready to celebrate the Lord today?” Out of a few hundred people, maybe 10 gave any kind of response. Most just kept silent or busy, preoccupied with whatever had their attention at that moment. As I watched this happen, I began to laugh inside myself, so I followed with this question, “How many of you are ready for a big Colts win tonight?” Nearly every single person in our sanctuary began to clap and cheer.

Interesting response, huh? This is in no way meant as an indictment on our congregation. You could substitute the name of a local sports team and ask that question in any city in America and probably get a similar response. What is it that makes us so inhibited in worship? Why do we see the opposite response from people who are bowing at the altar of sports?

Are there times when silence is appropriate in worship? Absolutely. There are those moments when we come to a place of worship and a realization of God’s awesome power and our feeble words just can’t do it justice. It is completely natural to sit in silence, basking in the presence of God during those times.

I think we are on thin theological ice when that is our only response.

Scripture is full of exhortations on worship. Take some time and read through Psalms and you will find all kinds of encouraging instruction on the subject of worship. Here are a few:

I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. (Psalm 9:1-2, NIV)

I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me…..Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name. (Psalm 30:1-2, 4, NIV)

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. (Psalm 34:1, NIV)

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. (Psalm 47:1, NIV)

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. (Psalm 30:11-12, NIV)

Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp. (Psalm, 149:3, NIV)

Those are just a few and I haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of what the Bible has to say about worship. Are there churches that take expression to an extreme? Absolutely. You can see some crazy stuff on the expressive side that isn’t in the Bible either. 

Here’s my issue. Many people look at the crazy stuff on the expressive side and end up labeling all expression as “not for them.” You might hear people say, “That’s just not my way.” I also hear this one quite a bit, “I worship quietly and to myself.”

Really? Quietly and to yourself? The God of the universe has saved your soul and you worship quietly and to yourself? Should there not be some sign of life when we worship? Some evidence of thanksgiving?

As you can tell by the length of this post, this is something I am very passionate about. I want to leave you with a quote from a friend of mine. He has dedicated his life to the subject of worship. The first time I heard him say this, I was floored:

There are times when silence is irreverent. (Randy Vader)

Stop. Read that again. Take a couple of moments to think about it. More importantly, think about that as you enter your church for worship this weekend.

4 Responses to “A Worshipful Response”
  1. Aaron Baker says:

    I couldn’t agree more. When you come face to face with all that God has done for you and you have no expression at all, I’m wondering just what kind of Christianity you have. Great post!

  2. CB says:

    WOW! Way to cut through the heart. I could not agree more. Thanks for the post.

  3. Steve says:

    Well said!!! Wonder if it will be heard?!?!?

  4. dws says:

    Thanks for your leadership in worship!!! You inspire me. We all owe this to Jesus for what he has done for us! There are times when my worship comes to tears, we need to just bring it and lay it there.

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