Worship Renewal and the Great Commission

I apologize to non-Southern Baptists who read this blog, and have limited interest in SBC life and politics.  I trust my writing has little if anything to do with politics, and all to do with seeking to be faithful to biblical truth, historical integrity, and Kingdom principals.  I will not attend the 2010 Annual SBC Meeting in Orlando, and have not attended for many years.  Any readers are encouraged to respond with impressions and reaction to what is taking place in our convention.

This week’s Southern Baptist Convention will include taking action on a report offered by a task force assigned by a previous convention to consider ways Southern Baptists could re-emphasize the foundational teaching principle of Christ in what we know to be the Great Commission.  The paragraphs below are reprinted from the May 26 issue of our state paper, The Baptist and Reflector.  I encourage those who are worship leaders to consider how our work in song selection, and use of worship material effects the disciple-making activity among and from the people we serve.

The conversations surrounding the recent Great Commission Task Force Report reflect passion for ministries and mission at all levels of Baptist life. Through these conversations no one, to my knowledge, has indicated disinterest in the fundamental concern that Southern Baptists renew efforts to follow the command of our Lord voiced in Matthew 28:19-20. To the contrary, the need to see people, churches, associations, state conventions and the national convention itself revived in the application of our whole selves to the fulfillment of this command has been re-emphasized at every hand. Though much discussion has ensued concerning re-organization of denominational entities, shifting of resources and changing labels, the real crux seems to me the place where the task force’s introduction began – the need for confession, repentance and renewal among us. The opening call emphasized our need of the Lord Himself. Seems crucial that we continue to confess our desperate need for God’s intervention through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. It is something for which we must fervently pray. As the hymnwriter prays, “May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.”

As often noted, the Great Commission was delivered in an atmosphere of worship. Upon Jesus’ appearance to the disciples the Scripture says, “they worshiped him” (Matthew 28:17). The instruction Jesus gave to go into the world, to make disciples and to baptize, was given in His very presence. The command came with a promise of His continued presence.  I trust that every Tennessee Baptist pastor and worship leader would affirm that any power to evangelize, make disciples or baptize comes directly from the Triune God in whose name believers are baptized. It is the presence of the Lord Himself upon which we depend to transform life. Spiritual potency never stems from our attempts at adaptation of the gospel to contextual circumstances, no matter how clever or well intentioned. I have concern that too often our worship (preaching, music, dramatic and visual presentation) depends on novelty and modern marketing practice rather than the pure simplicity of the gospel. Just as past calls were voiced for the theology taught in our schools and preached from our pulpits to return to biblical fidelity, so I believe we need a clarion call to renew commitment to drench our worship in the proclamation of Gospel Truth in Christ, including every element: singing, preaching, reading, presentations and ordinances. We need Christ-centered worship in the coming and going of every gathering of the church that we dare to call worship.

I have heard many preachers confess that we get much of our theology through our songs of worship. I find this to be true as both formation of what we believe, as well as reflection of what we believe. In other words, we are implanting theology into minds and hearts through what we sing as worship, at the same time that we are giving indication of what we believe through our worship singing. This reality should give all church leaders cause to reflect deeply and prayerfully upon what our churches are singing as worship. Careful review of those songs we sing most frequently as worship expression may help pastors, worship music leaders and others gain some grasp on both where our people are in their Christian journey, and some indication of how they may have arrived at that point. Consistent singing about self, even self worshiping, may be pointing worshipers in a wrong direction whereby they are really just worshiping themselves, or even worshiping their worship. Being emotionally inspired may be the worship objective for many living in a consumeristic culture. Such worship is far short of an engagement with God on His terms through His means.

As the Southern Baptist Convention meeting nears and prayerful attention is given to a call toward another resurgence in Baptist life, this one seeking a clearer focus to follow the direction given by our Lord in the Great Commission, I would hope that worship and worship singing would not once again be overlooked. I, of all people, am certainly not calling for some kind of worship music police, God forbid. Rather, as a worship ministry practitioner and denominational servant, I am calling for all church leaders to pay more careful attention that the gospel of Christ remains central to Baptist worship in every aspect of its practice. Let our worship music lift up Christ! Let our presentation of art in whatever form lift up Christ! Let us trust the power of the gospel, spoken, read and sung in worship to draw men and women to Christ! Let us pray the Holy Spirit will do His work among us to bring us to Him, to follow His way, and at once bring us to unity as He alone can do! Let us  love Him supremely and follow His command to bring the world to Him all for His glory! 

Committed to follow our command and commission,

Paul

Explore posts in the same categories: Singing Worship, Worship Reminders, Worship thoughts

One Comment on “Worship Renewal and the Great Commission”


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