Much of what passes for “worship” these days is anything but. Just visit a typical evangelical church or watch their live stream online.
- Much of what you’ll see will fall into the categories of entertainment and performance, as evidenced by elaborate sets, professional lighting, and careful choreography.
- There will likely be an emphasis on “self” in the form of self-help, self-promotion, self-improvement, and self-love.
- If you listen to the lyrics that are sung, the prayers that are prayed, and the sermon that is preached, much of the verbiage will be trivial, cliched, banal, and even absurd.
- Often, the “style” of the music and the message will be an attempt to mimic the current cultural climate (contemporary) or an attempt to recreate the nostalgia of the past (traditional).
The question remains after the service is done and the live stream is over … Did anyone actually worship?
In Worship in Spirit and Truth John Frame reflects on the experiences of Moses and Isaiah (Exodus 3-4, Isaiah 6), men who experienced the presence of God, who truly worshiped the Lord, and who walked away from worship changed men. Frame says this about these encounters with the Lord:
“God appeared in his majesty as the Lord. The worshiper was filled with reverential fear. The Lord’s control, authority, and presence were much in evidence. His might and power were overwhelming, he spoke a word of authority, and he revealed himself in the presence of the worshiper. The worshiper did not remain the same. He went forth with a new commission, to serve God in a new way.”
Frame has rightly identified several important aspects of a genuine worship experience. These include:
- The Majesty and Holiness of God
- The Fear of the Worshiper
- The Sovereignty and Authority of God
- The Revelation (Word) of God
- The Changed and Sent Worshiper
These five marks of genuine worship can be used as a guide in evaluating our worship services. Rather than focusing on production and professionalism, rather than emphasizing the “self,” rather than trying to imitate the culture, rather than trying to recreate a nostalgic past, these are the truths that ought to shape our approach to worship.