Worship Without Faith

“Worship experience.”  It is the announced objective of churches, concerts, youth and college group gatherings in all kinds of settings.  In most of the popular worship leadership and music producing publications it is highlighted as if it were the ultimate purpose of the same gatherings.  Indeed, in many, it is.  In the most misguided (one could even say blasphemous) overreach it is even announced as the foundational purpose of life itself.  People seeking out a worship experience are actually just consumers shopping for their chosen experience du jour.  As market driven church leaders adapt church lingo and programs to scratch this proverbial itch to find a satisfying worship experience I fear many have unintentionally led people far astray from the biblical foundation of worshiping in “spirit and truth,” (John 4:23-25)  Worship in spirit and truth calls for faith without which there is no spiritual life, and without which God cannot be pleased (Heb 11:6). There is no such thing as genuine Christian worship without faith. The miraculous truth is that Christ has become our High Priest and provided atonement (Heb 9).  Our faith is in Him completely.  Only in Him and through His provision can we rest that our worship will be acceptable.

Some may wonder why I am addressing this to the readers of my weekly epistles, which are mostly worship pastors and music leaders.  Two reasons: #1 – you are probably most tempted, or sadly in many cases expected (by pastor and people) to provide this experience-oriented direction.  After all, we musicians have been trained in capturing people’s attention, conveying art and aiming intensely at “the audience’s” emotions.  (Please do not stop reading here for this word of caution needs fuller explanation.)  #2 – I would hope you might be able to help your senior pastor and other church leaders to grasp a more sound practice, you are possibly in the best position (though uncomfortable) to help worshipers move from this culture-contrived line of selfish thinking. 

Let me hasten to say, worship IS life!  Worship IS our ultimate priority and intended eternal destiny.  Worship in the biblical sense, however, is a far cry from an inspiration buzz or moment of self-aggrandizement that is so often what is being sought out when looking for a worship experience.  At its root one (worship experience) emphasizes self and the other (true worship) is rooted in the Triune God Himself.  The best I can decipher is that our point of departure has been a slowly developed emphasis on personal experience, yea…on self, and such emphasis has resulted in a deflated posture of Christ in the “worship experience.”  God forbid.

Let me also hasten to say that resting faith wholly in Jesus Christ, and trusting Him to make our engagement/communion/worship with God worthy to be received by Him, often results in a glorious experience characterized sometimes by exuberant joy, sometimes by convicting tears, and always by humbling awe.  Whatever experience comes to us is secondary, his glory is primary.  The root problem is exacerbated when we chase after the experience rather than the exaltation of the Lord.

As we guide others in worship gatherings we take on the overwhelming challenge of lifting up Christ above all else.  We are dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit.  As we select materials to be used in gathered worship we submit ourselves to the arresting discipline of biblical integrity.  We are bound and at once freed by faithful adherence to the Word.  Fellow leaders of gathered worship, join me in confronting the cultural spirit of division and offer the victorious power of the Gospel that overcomes sin and self. Style preferences disappear in the blazing radiance of Jesus. 

            Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side

            Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.

            Leave to thy God to order and provide

            In every change He faithful will remain

            Be still my soul! They best, thy heavenly Friend

            Thro stormy ways leads to a joyful end.

                                                – Katherine von Schlegel

In Christ alone,

Paul

____

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church keyboard players, Church Music, Hymnals, Leading Worship, Private Worship, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

2 Comments on “Worship Without Faith”


  1. Thanks for your thoughts, Paul. I’ll be sharing your article in Bible study tomorrow.

    • Paul Clark Jr Says:

      Lisa, I am humbled that you would use the article as you lead a study of God’s Word. I pray the Spirit will speak through you even as we know He will speak through His Word.


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