WORSHIP:  It’s for the LOST and the YOUNG    by Dan O’Deens

I personally spent time writing this on January 15, 2014 at 7am because I believe disciple making is both relational and happens best ‘in the moment.’  My daughter is working out her theology about “worship” in thought and practice.   Her thoughts invoked me to write and I enjoy writing.

Part of the essence of ‘disciple making’ is that we pass our values to those that we disciple, the people that God has given us the opportunity to influence.  What makes a ‘value’ valuable is not that ‘I’ value it but that its truth is founded in the Word of God and that we are being obedient to its commission and purpose.

Worship is not about me.   It is not about getting people who already know Jesus to sing.  Worship is not a song.   Worship is not a style.  Worship is about a relationship with God.  Although its focus is on God it includes ‘me.’  To sing is to say. What do ‘I’ say about who God is and what do ‘I’ say about how He has made a difference in ‘my’ life.  Pronouns are a part of communication.   Rick Warren says,  “Worship is expressing our love to God for who he is, what he’s said, and what he’s doing.”   WHO IS GOD?   Does our Music reflect that?  WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?  Does our music reflect that?    WHAT IS GOD DOING…TODAY?  Does our music reflect that.

We preach and sing for life change.   A communicator’s role is not to simply impart INFORMATION and include no application.  It is not to tell people ‘about’ God and forget that Jesus chose to be INCARNATIONAL and RELATIONAL.   We must tell people the whole STORY about God’s nature.   Who God is, yes!   But also, how He has touched and changed MY life.  If we do not talk about how God intersects our lives relationally, we make Him irrelevant and paint the wrong picture of our God.   He is NOT distant.  He is tangible.  He loves ME.  He died for ME.  To talk about “me” is not less deep, meaningful or less spiritual.   If I talk about me apart from God then of course it means NOTHING…without God we are NOTHING.   When we preach or sing about who God is and about knowing him experientially and how He has made a difference in my life only adds depth and meaning to a MOST HIGH GOD who humbled himself and became a servant, a servant who chose to DWELL among us and have relationship with us.

Our structure and style should NOT come from the articles written by men, but from those who ‘dwell’ in the presence of the MOST HIGH GOD, whose hearts are ready to lead God’s people into His presence and to lead those who do not know God to desire this God.

Style and Familiarity is NOT the issue.   It is not about us.   Let the CHURCH rise.   That said, The church is the BODY of CHRIST.   It’s not about the ‘name’ of the church or its style.  It is about the name of JESUS.  When the people point to God’s program (the Church) and when the Church points to JESUS (the Churches head and authority) JESUS WINS!   The reason the Church is still on Earth is because He is not willing that ANY should perish and that all should come to repentance.   The reason the church exists today is to see LOST people come to Jesus.  I understand that we are to equip the saints.   But equipping is less about ‘information’ and more about ‘transformation.’  It is not to sing familiar songs that we feel good about or that the people want to hear or that the worship team/band likes to sing.  This would be “outcome based worship.”  Pennsylvania made a huge mistake decades ago by introducing ‘outcome based education’ to the educational construct.   Although its goal was noble, it was neither right, wise nor reachable.   The goal was to get ‘everyone’ to graduate.   The only problem is that in order to accomplish the goal one who have to lower the standard.   Our goal in worship is not to get everyone to ‘sing,’ it is to DWELL with the MOST HIGH GOD and to be so real and so genuine about the Mission of the Church that people will see that our praise is Real and that our God is real.  Not everyone will graduate.  Not everyone will worship.

For me the style should honestly reflect your TARGET audience.  I know we sing to ‘an audience of ONE.’  I agree HE/JESUS is our Focus.  I realize my next comments are more about reaching the Lost and the Unchurched than they are about Music and Worship.   For me the audience we target is the YOUNG and the LOST.   We ought to be asking the question, ‘How do the Young and the Lost receive what they experience in a worship setting?’    Do the young in the ‘Church’ truly engage?  Does a young crowd who does not yet know Jesus want to engage because they see something genuine?

I remember as a young preacher and Bible student, I heard a quote from D.L. Moody.  He said, “It is a sin to put people to sleep with God’s Word.     To be fresh as a speaker, I must spend TIME with JESUS.   I must DWELL in His presence and the overflow is that my HEART will leap out with PRAISE and WORSHIP.   It will be informational, transformational, relevant, and prophetic.  It must ALWAYS be evangelistic.  UPWARD and OUTWARD REACHING.

I hear all the time that Worship is not the ‘song set’ before the message.   It is the whole ‘experience.’   I believe that too!   It would NOT be acceptable in any circle for the pastor to get up and preach the same message every week.   (Even IF he got lots of kudos, from those who enjoyed the message).   It would be easier for the pastor to pull from his files or from his experience an ‘old familiar’ Word of Truth.   But the Word of God says, SING A NEW SONG.    “It is an equal sin to put people to sleep with God’s Music.

The challenge should be FRESH.   The music should be FRESH.   The presentation should be FRESH. (powerpoints, stage, graphics.)  Our God is a CREATIVE and HE DEMANDS and DESERVES our BEST.  We must NEVER rely on the past to reach into the future.

Those who lead the Church will be held to a high standard.    One day we will all stand before God.   Those who know Jesus will experience the presence of Jesus.   We will love the first touch and comment of Jesus, “Welcome, my son/daughter, so glad you chose to Trust me with your life.    We will cower at his second question?  Did you bring anyone else with you?   The task of the church is not Discipleship it is ‘disciple making.’   The difference is relationship and fruit bearing.   The difference is being IN the ‘written Word’ and being WITH the LIVING WORD!

Are we reaching the LOST and the YOUNG?   The Music and Message of the Church MUST relate to the young and the lost!