Called to Worship – Issue #7
by Phil Mershon
I’ve been leading corporate worship for over three decades. I’ve joined a Kenyan congregation who joyously celebrated their riches in Christ, even though by all earthly standards they ranked among the poorest of the poor. I’ve also led in post-Christian Europe where they enjoyed earthly riches and magnificent buildings, with little joy.
I’ve yet to lead a congregation whose intensity and passion matches that of a closely fought football championship. (However, I witnessed something close at this Promise Keeper event with E.V. Hill.) I wonder why…
I’m glad I can’t hear the thoughts rattling around on Sunday mornings, “Not this song again.” “I wonder what Sally’s going to make for lunch?” “I’ve got to find John after church so we can set up that business deal.” “I wonder if Pastor Jim can meet with me about my struggling marriage.”
As a worship leader I often forget the many issues that preoccupy fellow believers as they come to worship. We all hunger for a taste of eternity so we can endure life’s pressures and challenges.
As a lead worshipper, I need daily reminders of God’s lavish grace. I need to see His grace as truly sufficient no matter how dark the hole I’m in. Grace is the fuel that propels me through my whole Christian journey, not just at take-off.
One of the reasons our worship services seem sedate compared to a sports event is we’ve allowed the luster of the Gospel to grow dim. We’re strong in proclaiming the Gospel to unbelievers, but we’ve grown bored as we rehearse this Greatest Story for believers. We know the characters, plots and subplots, but we’ve lost the wonder.
Let me be clear: The Gospel is not boring. It’s the most adventuresome story ever. There is beauty, challenge, adversity, danger, sacrifice, bravery, love, glory, passion, betrayal and forgiveness. All the greatest themes in literature are found in the Gospel—and its true.
I’m afraid that we’re bored because we have truncated the Gospel into a simple formula (e.g. 4 Spiritual Laws, 5 Steps to Peace) and we have failed to plumb the depths of these mysteries.
Spelunkers, deep sea divers and astronauts all know there are numerous mysteries and unexplored regions of our universe. To the trained eye, even our own neighborhoods have myriads of spectacles that point to God’s powerful hand.
Proverbs 2:4 tell us to look for wisdom like silver or gold. Jesus said the Kingdom is like a pearl of great price (Mt. 13: 45-46) for which we should sell everything to pursue it. The Gospel is a priceless gem worthy of our best mental and emotional efforts.
I’m afraid that our worship becomes boring when we treat it as routine and familiar.
Keith & Kristyn Getty penned a timeless hymn In Christ Alone that helps me rehearse the wonders of the Gospel. I also love the fresh treatment Vikki Cook has given to the classic hymn Before the Throne of God Above (as sung at Together for the Gospel).
How do you combat monotony in your personal and corporate worship?