Private Worship – Worship Leader Roundtable Roundup

Wales Trip 06 Window webEach year I travel across the state of Tennessee to meet with Worship Pastors from our Tennessee Baptist churches.  These annual one day gatherings provide opportunities for our music leaders to share with one another openly regarding a variety of topics and to inform one another of resources for ministry that they have discovered in the course of their work.

Our Worship Leaders Roundtables this year focused primarily on our need as worship leaders to be worshipers in every aspect of our lives. Since most of us spend enormous amounts of time preparing for weekly gathered worship, we gave attention to our worship in solitude, and our worship with family. Discussions led us in many directions, which is the case each year, and a refreshing aspect of our roundtable process. I want to appeal to those who attended roundtables (and others may contribute as well) to email me titles and author names of books mentioned in our gatherings, or those that have come to mind since that time – books and other helps that encourage private worship, family worship and devotions, or that serve as good material for these special worship times. I plan to list these in next week’s enewsletter and blog. I want to share a couple of things that were takeaways for me through our times of discussion this year. First of all, private worship is private. That may not sound so profound at first glance, but I have reflected upon our sharing and on present day context for us in our churches and culture. We are a privatized society in many ways. We value our personal space and time, and expect to have complete reign in those environments to do as we wish. For many in our culture that means in those settings we serve ourselves. We might expect to hear “it’s my time, I’ll do with it as I wish.” Such a statement sounds juvenile, yet could very well come from any adult in present culture, or in our churches for that matter. The truth is that in spirit, such a statement could come from pastors and worship pastors who have focused on building a church so much that they have lost sight of the Lordship of Christ over the whole of life. Such thinking is what I believe opens the door to invasions of an individualized culture’s demons, pornography, misappropriation of resources, and egotistical daydreaming that drowns out the humble life of service and surrender. There is a need in our churches and in our culture to surrender our time to the Lord of eternity. There is a need to surrender the hidden corners of our worlds to the Father Who sees and knows all. He is the only Redeemer of it all! I was reminded often in these past weeks that we will not lead people where we have not been ourselves. Most of us recognize the need for worshipers to worship outside the Sunday church setting, and know that it would greatly enhance gathered worship if the church was worshiping through the week. Engaging in a time of daily worship in private will not in and of itself necessarily change my circumstances, but it very well may change me. Spending time praising, worshiping, and sometimes just crying out to the Lord makes a noticeable difference in how I look at the cashier at the Mapco where I fill up my car. I approach the mundane tasks differently after praying the psalms, or when the tune of a great song of faith still lingers in my mind after a morning that included moments secluded with the Lord who often prods my memory to consider faith expressions. Spending weekday mornings in private worship builds an anticipation for Sunday gathered worship that recognizes my connection to other members of the body of Christ, celebrates our connection, and more importantly offers higher praise to our Head, the Christ Himself. I joined others in being convicted of the need for leading my family in worship moments at home and in times of leisure. I heard loud and clear the stupidity of the thought that days away from work means days when I do not need to practice daily disciplines of personal and family worship. What hypocrisy. One thing I noticed in this year’s Worship Leader roundtable discussions was that in some instances we had a little difficulty in openly discussing our personal times of worship. One obvious reason for such reluctance is that they are just what the description implies, private. The Reformation and resultant Bible printing gave us access to God’s Word. Our revivalist tradition has engrained in our thinking our one-on-one relationship to Christ as a bedrock of our faith walk. The proliferation of devotional material and multimedia exposure of charismatic speakers, singers, and authors has provided us with plenty of means to sort of swim around in spiritual waters and feelings with no other humans around. In Baptist life we have only local church discipline to hold one another accountable, except for what voluntary associations we seek to nourish, such as our worship leader fellowship and conference gatherings. In other words, we hold tremendous personal responsibility in the practice of our faith, including daily worship in solitude, family worship leadership, and consistent meeting with the local church body. Of course, the Holy Spirit lives in us, convicts us, reminds us, and rebukes us as we live our lives. I find, though, that one of the ways the Holy Spirit works in me is through brothers and sisters in Christ who remind me of just the sorts of things that we discussed in our roundtables. Corporate worship can never take the place of private or family worship, nor can private or family worship supplant the weekly gathering of and with the congregation known as the church. Each of these should inform and inspire the others. If we are offering our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1), then we will surely seek to redeem the time and space that God has entrusted to us for the purpose of bringing Him glory. That means all of the time (continually), and space (all the world). What a wonderful way to live.

“Through Jesus, we continually offer the sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His Name.” (Heb 13:15)

Having spent time with you, I am renewed.

Family Worship Ideas and Resources:


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2 Comments on “Private Worship – Worship Leader Roundtable Roundup”

  1. We had a wonderful service last Sunday. The choir special, “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be” had people shouting praises to the Lord. That’s something special in a Southern Baptist Church. Being the Music Director for 9 years, it was a first for me. I grew up in a Freewill Baptist Church and it was common for people to shout praises.

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