“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Matthew 26:30
We know from Romans 12:1 & 2 that worship involves more than just the corporate gathering of God’s people. Giving glory to God through the way the we live all of life should be the motivation for all we do as believers (lifestyle worship). We also know that, according to Hebrews 10:25, God has set a priority on meeting together regularly. Certainly, though we are to worship God intentionally every day as we seek to glorify Him in all that we say and do, corporate worship remains very important. So, what can we glean from various scriptures regarding what took place in the earliest days of the church; and how do these truths apply to us today as individual worshippers and as members of a corporate body who meet together to worship?
There are five major areas of worship mentioned in the New Testament. I will list the implications of each of these areas for church families as a whole (corporate worship) and for individuals who are part of a worship leadership team.
PRAYER IN THE NEW TESTMENT CHURCH – Acts 4:23-31—The church was literally fighting for its existence in the early days. They were constantly threatened with terrible punishment or even death because they were believers. This fervent prayer expresses their desire for God to show Himself strong in the midst of difficult times. The New Testament Christians, however, also were aware of the greatness of God. Therefore, they would submit themselves to Him in humble and fervent prayer.
PRAYER IN THE CHURCH TODAY- Prayer was first and foremost in the life of the New Testament church, and our communion with God must be a top priority in the life of our church today. It must become the priority of our individual lives and the times that we spend together. We are just as desperate for God to do a work as the New Testament church was.
THE WORSHIP TEAM IN PRAYER – We must commit ourselves to regular, fervent prayer. Our rehearsals must become permeated with prayer. We must realize that the time we spend practicing music is secondary to our need for prayer. God can do amazing things through us if we will commit to a faithful prayer life.
PREACHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT – Acts 20:7-12 – The Apostle Paul was evidently both a very effective evangelist (Acts 14:1) as well as one who traveled about to various churches teaching them from the Word of God. This remarkable passage makes note of the length of his message for the church at Troas on this particular occasion. Peter was also well-known for his sermon on the day of Pentecost, and there must have been countless others who proclaimed the word of God through preaching.
PREACHING IN THE CHURCH TODAY – There are plenty of comments and opinions about what constitutes good preaching and what some consider to be not as good. However, our only measuring stick must be the Word of God. Is the Word being handled accurately by the preacher? Are the truths explained in an understandable way, and is there a practical application being made to modern day life? We must remember that our focus should be on what is being taught rather than focusing on the one who is doing the teaching. Until we mature enough as believers to do this, there will always be people who think that sermons are boring and irrelevant, not interesting, not funny enough, and always too long. God help us to fall in love with His Word!
PREACHING AND THE WORSHP TEAM – We must lift up our preachers in prayer faithfully. As worship leaders, we are responsible for focusing our attention on the scripture texts as well as the explanations and applications associated with them. Instead of talking about superficial things, such as what is being worn or not being worn, how effective the sermon delivery may have been, or the length of the sermon, we must talk about what we learned from God’s Word and what kind of an impact it will make on us in the days to follow.
PRAISE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH — (Acts 2:46) – The church made praising God a regular part of their corporate worship gatherings. An interesting thing to note is that the Bible does not specifically say that when the believers praised God that they were always singing. There are times when singing is specifically mentioned, such as Acts 16:25 (Paul and Silas in prison), but spoken praise is mentioned in the book of Revelation 4:10-11. In Ephesians 5:19-20, singing is specifically mentioned; and in chapter 5 of Revelation, there are specific references to singing “a new song” (Rev. 5: 9-10) and singing loudly (Rev. 5:12-13)
PRAISE IN THE CHURCH TODAY –While our lives must reflect praise to God at all times (Sunday through Saturday), there is something unique, powerful, and mystical about God’s people joining together in corporate praise. Whether it’s two believers singing hymns and praying in a Philippian jail cell, or 15,000 gathered in a mega-church, God inhabits the praises of His people. We must explore ways to praise God as a church, and we must be willing to concede that “our way” is not the only way that is valid.
PRAISE AND THE WORSHIP TEAM — We must understand our role as leaders of worship for the church. We are truly servants who should seek to serve God and the people of this church by our worship leadership. We must allow God to challenge us and change us into what He wants us to be. We must be willing to listen to new things, try new things, sharpen our skills, put in the time it takes to lead with excellence, and find out how we can best serve our church as worship leaders.
OFFERINGS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH – It is interesting that financial offerings in the New Testament are generally spoken of in a very practical way. (I Corinthians 16:1-3) Aside from several Old Testament references, mainly in the book of Hebrews, the word offering is most closely associated with the life of the believer. (Hebrews 13: 15-16, I Peter 2:5)
OFFERINGS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – We must not shy away from the practical nature of financial offerings. God has determined that His people are going to finance His work. We have to come to an understanding of our responsibility as believers to give regularly and generously.
OFFERINGS AND THE WORSHIP TEAM — It is criticially important that we offer to God all that we are and all that we have in order to be fully surrendered to Him. That’s the only way that our lives will be open to his leadership. In addition, it is hypocritical to think that we can be considered leaders in the church without being faithful in the area of financial stewardship. Ask God to give you the faith to give as He intends for you to give.
ENCOURAGEMENT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH – An important part of any corporate worship experience in the New Testament was the practice of believers encouraging (exhorting) one another through both spoken word and through the use of music. The epistles of the New Testament were written forms of encouragement that were read in the various congregations. While there are other worship acts mentioned in the New Testament, such as fellowship, prophecy, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, lifting up holy hands, these really fall under the five major categories mentioned above.
ENCOURAGEMENT IN THE CHURCH TODAY—God knows that we need encouragement to live the Christian life abundantly. We need encouragement from every angle. We need to have sin in our lives pointed out regularly by God’s Word. We need to celebrate victories in the lives of our fellow believers. We need to cry with those who are hurting. We need to be willing to take a chance to help a brother or sister in financial need. We need to know that we are not in this thing alone.
ENCOURAGEMENT AND THE WORSHIP TEAM – As worship leadership team members, we have one of the most visible and influential platforms for encouraging the church! Every anthem we sing or play, every image we put on the screen, every setting on the sound board should enable the encouragement of the church family. We must strive to be outstanding encouragers in every way. We must ask ourselves this before we open our mouths to share something with another church member: “Will what I am about to say be encouraging or discouraging to the body of Christ? Is this going to build up or tear down?” Encouragement is contagious!
Each worship team member should make our leadership role in each of these areas of worship a matter of prayer and seek to consistently improve every area of servant leadership. As you begin spiritual preparation for this week’s worship service, keep in mind the following thoughts:
* True worship takes place when we realize the greatness of God and seek to glorify Him through our lives.
* A regular gathering of the saints is necessary for our spiritual health! Let’s be regular attenders!!
* Every day of our life is an opportunity to live in such a way as to show our gratefulness for all of God’s blessings.
Remember, it’s not about the worship leaders. It’s not about the preacher. It’s not about the congregation. It’s all about the incredible God we serve!
Post written by Travis L. Boyd as encouragement for worship leadership teams, first appearing as a devotional for our own worship team and as prayer reminders on our church’s worship team website.
Do you know Jesus?
The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make! The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation. Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus. http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/