Leadership in Context with Keith Tucci
Are our worship services scriptural?
I’ve been thinking a lot about worship lately. In recent services, I’ve found myself unable to join in the singing of the songs. They have decent lyrics and beautiful music, but the music is hard for someone like me who is tone deaf to join in. During these times, I’ve noticed that many, especially the men, are silent. They are meditative. They seem to be receiving worship. But they aren’t giving worship.
Liturgy is when you have certain formulas and certain things that you do in certain ways, and every time it is the same. You may criticize someone’s liturgical actions from another denomination, but if you were to talk to someone who was a true believer, they could explain to you the significance of all of the little things they do and how that speaks to worship.
I think sometimes the liturgical churches have more meaning in their worship than we do—“we” meaning charismatic people. It seems like so much of our worship has drifted into man-centeredness. So many of the songs are about how I feel, what I think, and what my circumstances are.
Part of worship is singing. (Clapping your hands and dancing are also worship.) Singing is a very significant part of worship. In the NASB, the word “sing” appears in 119 verses. If the Bible tells us to sing, it probably tells us what to sing about. We could be singing things that are somewhat spiritual, but not necessarily biblical.
46 of those 119 verses (about 40%) say to sing “praises.” We are to be praising God. Our songs are to be adoration towards God.
I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever; to all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. For I have said, “Lovingkindness will be built up forever; in the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness. I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations.” The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord, a God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all those who are around Him? O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. You rule the swelling of the sea; when its waves rise, You still them. You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain; You scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.
We could continue reading in this chapter, but my point is this—the Hebrew word for “sing” most often is the very simple word for “hallelujah.” When the Bible says to sing, it wants us to “do” hallelujah. What is that? It’s praise, but more than that, it’s boasting. It’s bragging. Most often, when the Bible refers to singing praises, the reference is to brag on God. How great God is. How wonderful God is. How magnificent God is. How forgiving God is. How redeeming God is. Hallelujah!
That’s what congregational worship looks like in the Bible.
O clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy. For the Lord Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth. He subdues peoples under us and nations under our feet. He chooses our inheritance for us, the glory of Jacob whom He loves. God has ascended with a shout, the Lord, with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a skillful psalm. God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne. The princes of the people have assembled themselves as the people of the God of Abraham, for the shields of the earth belong to God; He is highly exalted.
That right there is bragging on God.
We need to understand that one of the purposes of corporate worship is to edify one another, encourage each other, by bragging on God. Saying what God has done and is going to do. Saying where God is going to take us. Talking about God’s love. Talking about God’s promises. (Not just what we are going through and what we are feeling.)
Sing for Joy
The second most used word connected with “singing” is “joy.” Sing for joy. Sing with joy. Sing in joy. There should be something very joyful, exuberant, exciting, life-giving in worship.
We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright. Save, O Lord; may the King answer us in the day we call.
If you want to see people enter into worship (especially men), there is a very simple technique: clapping your hands. Do a song where people clap, and you will see instant participation from almost the whole crowd. Songs that stir up a clapping response usually have words that are easier to sing, remember, and declare, so you will get a lot more participation.
Set up a video camera to film the congregation during worship. Watch how they respond to different types of songs. Sing a song that is very meditative, very much about me, and see how people (especially men) actually sing. Then do a song like Psalm 20 where we are declaring the victories of our God, boasting in Him, and watch how many people participate.
Ask yourself this question: Is our worship merely traditional? Has it become the new charismatic liturgy? Or is it scriptural?
Join us next week as Keith Tucci continues to put leadership truth in the context of the local church. And as always, please like, share, rate/review, and invite others to listen. See you next week!