God initiates worship. It is His action, His work. He invites us to join the continuous fellowship and outpouring of Himself in the Trinity (each member, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, constantly adoring and exalting the others, and all in perfect unity). He extends grace to us through the work of Jesus Christ (we cannot come to God apart from Jesus), and empowers us by His Spirit to participate in His worship. This is God’s Action. And it is enormously more important than our actions in worship.
But our actions are important. They are simply not the point. Our actions as worshipers may include singing, playing instruments, reading Scriptures, praying, and other manners of leading. Too often, however, in our immaturity we place too much emphasis on our actions in worship. We sometimes get caught up in singing the right songs and playing them in the right style. Or we focus too much on selecting the perfect Scripture or prayer to facilitate our worship experience. Sometimes we overemphasize the ambiance of the space where we gather to worship. We give too much importance to the light design or the PowerPoint slide backgrounds. We think we have to look a certain way, to achieve a level of “hipness.” We try too hard to wow our congregations, all while missing the point that God’s action is infinitely more important and wowing than ours.
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We are not the point of our gatherings. We are not the show. But we do have a part to play.As we mature in our relationship with Christ, growing up under the admonition of our Counselor, the Holy Spirit, and as we heed the wisdom of our Father, we come to understand and appreciate the magnitude of God’s action in our worship. We learn that regardless of whether we pick the perfect songs and readings, or lead the best prayers, or how we sound when we play and sing, our action is entirely responsive to God’s action. His work makes our worship possible! God invites us into fellowship with Himself, makes a way through Jesus, and empowers us to participate by His Spirit.
As we gather to worship and lead our congregations, we need to remember that our actions should be done in such a way that God’s action is honored. Our goal as worship leaders should be to declare the wonders of the Father’s love and salvation revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We should be emphasizing the Holy Spirit’s work in drawing us to receive salvation. We should be boasting in Christ alone instead of touting our own accomplishments or drawing inappropriate attention to ourselves. And we should be using our work (our singing, playing instruments, reading Scriptures, praying and leading) to honor and emphasize God’s Work.
Ask yourselves and your team members – what is the point of your gatherings? Discuss how critically important God’s work is in our worship? Talk about how well (or not) you’re using your actions to honors His actions. Let us know in the comments below.
Kristen Gilles is a worship leader at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky. She is married to Sojourn communications director Bobby Gilles. Together they write about worship and songwriting at mysonginthenight.com.