Understanding

Worship 

Theology

 

“Worship is man’s full reason for existence. Worship is why we are born and why we are born again.  Worship is the reason for our genesis in the first place and our regenesis that we call regeneration. Worship is why there is church, the assembly of the Redeemed, in the first place.” (1)

 

Worship theology! Why is that biblical concept so crucial for us as Salvation Army local officers to grasp? Why bother? Isn’t that essential only for those who are attending the training college? Can’t we just lead our corps congregations through the hymn tunes and contemporary songs we choose for corporate worship every Sunday – isn’t that enough? Remember, we do not get paid for this; the effort we put in each week should be enough since we are volunteers, right? Ever had these and other questions cross your mind? Have you ever misunderstood worship to be only associated with ‘praise and worship’ during corporate worship? You are not alone. I found myself with those same questions a few years ago – I was theologically dry, spiritually frustrated, and burned out as a local officer. If you can relate, then I pray that this article will help you realize what authentic worship is and how you fit in as a worship leader in God’s Kingdom.

 

Dr. Vernon Whaley, Dean of the School of Music at Liberty University, states the following regarding what true worship is not.

 

True worship is not measured by the songs we sing; by the atmosphere, space, or environment we create in which to worship; by the number of Scriptures we read; or by the technology we deem important for facilitating worship. Worship is not determined by our preference for praise band, pipe organ, orchestra, or acoustic instruments. It is not defined by vocal selections (a cappella or with accompaniment) or by a musician’s instrumental skill. In fact, musical expressions may not be essential for biblical worship at all. (2)

 

What is true biblical worship then? I believe an understanding of worship theology will help us answer that question. Comprehending the why, what, and how of biblical worship is imperative to recognize how our role as worship leaders function. Furthermore, it will help us to stay away from false worship – “It is possible to have an experience of worship, but not according to the will of God and, consequently, unacceptable with God, because God hates idolatry. Idolatry is simply worship directed in any direction but Gods’…” (3)

 

Let us begin with the ‘why’ of worship? – Why were we created? What is our purpose? To love, adore, glorify, magnify and give all praises to our God. Author Daniel I. Block said it best, “To be human is to worship.” (4)  

Adely.jpeg

Adely Charles is a first-generation Salvationist. He serves as the divisional music director of The Salvation Army Florida Division. With his team, they provide music and arts education as well as discipleship and mentoring of the local leaders and Salvationist artists in Florida. He has been a guest instructor and performer at music camps in Mexico, Jamaica, Bolivia, Argentina, and, most recently, Romania. Adely received a Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis in classical guitar performance, a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and currently is finishing a doctorate in worship studies at Liberty University.

A.W. Tozer agrees and mentions, “By nature man has to admire something. Within his very being he has to adore, and if he loses his ability to adore in his spirit and soar in his heart, he will find some other way to do it. He will get out there somehow. Because of how he was created, man is drawn to mystery wherever he finds it. Some mystery creates within a sense of awe, and when he finds it, he will worship.” (5)  God desires that we worship Him, and Him alone. He longs to have a relationship with you; one that is not superficial, not just a Sunday event. He longs to have intimate communion with His greatest creation – you and I, His image-bearers (Genesis 1:26a, 27 NLT). He deserves it all, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) That’s the purpose of our worship!

 

Subsequently, what is worship? It is our wholehearted love, adoration, and devotion given to our Holy, Majestic, Just, Loving, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Unfailing, Immutable, Faithful, Gracious and the list of attributes goes on and on – GOD. We love God because of who He is. Authentic worship is what Adam and Eve exemplified briefly in the garden before the Fall. Their focus and purpose was to do that which God created them for – His worship through an intimate relationship. Tozer cites, “Adam and Eve’s unique purpose in the garden was to bring pleasure, joy and fellowship to God, which is the foundation of all genuine worship.”(6)  Jesus Christ has made this pursuit of authentic worship evidenced in Eden possible today because of His personal sacrifice for us sinners (Romans 5:8). “Great is the Lord, He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.” (Psalm 96:4) He alone is our proper object of worship.

 

Last but not least, how do we worship? “Through Christ, we have access to the Father by the Spirit…” (7)  We worship God through our faith in Jesus Christ by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul says in Romans 3:22, “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” With the Spirit’s help, we will worship God in spirit and in truth, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) The methodology of worship is displayed in His Word and by His Spirit’s leading, 

we will learn to worship Him like Jesus. Dr. Vernon 

Whaley shares, “When we worship ‘in spirit,’ we yield to the Holy Spirit, we are led by the Holy Spirit, and we submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Worship in spirit also involves our emotions, our inner feeling, our 

passions, our motives, our ambitions, and the deepest desires of our hearts – all totally dedicated to honoring Jesus.” (8)

How does all that relate to leading worship at the corps? Through our proper understanding of biblical worship, we will lead others in authentic worship. Knowing who God truly is will thrust our right praise of who He is. Worship is formational (2 Corinthians 3:18), transformational (2 Corinthians 5:17), relational (vertical/God, horizontal/one another), missional (Matthew 28:18-20) and reproducible. As worship leaders, we are storytellers of God’s Love Story – His perfect creation, our rebellion in the Fall, His redemption through Jesus Christ, and ultimately His consummation (Ephesians 1:10, Revelation 21-22). If what we believe is not biblical, we are putting ourselves and the congregation we lead in eternal danger. We cannot lead others to worship God whom we don’t know personally.

    

Whether you are a songster leader, bandmaster, pianist or worship team leader at the corps, you must immerse yourself in God’s Word to not only learn about who He is, but also teach what you’ve learned in private to the community of faith. That’s the next topic I hope to share with you in the next article. “Here is the very heart of biblical worship: God speaks, and we respond…” (9)

Our first doctrine states, “We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.”

he keyword here – PRACTICE! Many of us have heard of the familiar adage ‘Practice what you preach’ or ‘practice makes permanent.’ Very real for believers yet, what are we to practice as worship leaders within the Salvation Army intentionally? The answer is the lifestyle of worship Jesus Christ lived – a holy, set apart, compassionate, steadfast, gracious, merciful, patient, kind, restful, forgiving, and the list of attributes goes on. Author T. J. Addington states, “The key to authenticity is the hidden work a leader does to grow and feed his or her inner life so that its overflow is healthy, consistent, and authentic” 3 spiritual disciplines. 

This daily, consistent practice involves spiritual disciplines that draw the servant of Christ closer to His likeness. There are three I would love to ask you to either bring back or practice anew in your life. In our busy, restless world, how important is it for us to exercise the discipline of Sabbath – resting in God’s abundance? Author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun notes, “Sadly, everything about us works against slowing down. Our compulsion to produce and not waste time invades the space God gave for us to rest… Sabbath is God’s way of saying, ‘Stop. Notice your limits. Don’t burn out.’” 4 Do not get so caught up in doing that you neglect the importance of being in a close relationship with Jesus – burnout is real; ask a local officer near you for evidence. 

Our first doctrine states, “We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.”

he keyword here – PRACTICE! Many of us have heard of the familiar adage ‘Practice what you preach’ or ‘practice makes permanent.’ Very real for believers yet, what are we to practice as worship leaders within the Salvation Army intentionally? The answer is the lifestyle of worship Jesus Christ lived – a holy, set apart, compassionate, steadfast, gracious, merciful, patient, kind, restful, forgiving, and the list of attributes goes on. Author T. J. Addington states, “The key to authenticity is the hidden work a leader does to grow and feed his or her inner life so that its overflow is healthy, consistent, and authentic” 3 spiritual disciplines. 

This daily, consistent practice involves spiritual disciplines that draw the servant of Christ closer to His likeness. There are three I would love to ask you to either bring back or practice anew in your life. In our busy, restless world, how important is it for us to exercise the discipline of Sabbath – resting in God’s abundance? Author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun notes, “Sadly, everything about us works against slowing down. Our compulsion to produce and not waste time invades the space God gave for us to rest… Sabbath is God’s way of saying, ‘Stop. Notice your limits. Don’t burn out.’” 4 Do not get so caught up in doing that you neglect the importance of being in a close relationship with Jesus – burnout is real; ask a local officer near you for evidence. 

Our first doctrine states, “We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.”

he keyword here – PRACTICE! Many of us have heard of the familiar adage ‘Practice what you preach’ or ‘practice makes permanent.’ Very real for believers yet, what are we to practice as worship leaders within the Salvation Army intentionally? The answer is the lifestyle of worship Jesus Christ lived – a holy, set apart, compassionate, steadfast, gracious, merciful, patient, kind, restful, forgiving, and the list of attributes goes on. Author T. J. Addington states, “The key to authenticity is the hidden work a leader does to grow and feed his or her inner life so that its overflow is healthy, consistent, and authentic” 3 spiritual disciplines. 

This daily, consistent practice involves spiritual disciplines that draw the servant of Christ closer to His likeness. There are three I would love to ask you to either bring back or practice anew in your life. In our busy, restless world, how important is it for us to exercise the discipline of Sabbath – resting in God’s abundance? Author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun notes, “Sadly, everything about us works against slowing down. Our compulsion to produce and not waste time invades the space God gave for us to rest… Sabbath is God’s way of saying, ‘Stop. Notice your limits. Don’t burn out.’” 4 Do not get so caught up in doing that you neglect the importance of being in a close relationship with Jesus – burnout is real; ask a local officer near you for evidence. 

Acknowledgements 

 

1 A.W. Tozer, The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship, ed. James L. Snyder (Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers, 2009), 26-27.

 2 Elmer L. Towns and Vernon M. Whaley, Worship through the Ages: How the Great Awakenings Shape Evangelical Worship (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2012), 12.

  3 A.W. Tozer, The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship, ed. James L. Snyder (Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers, 2009), 32.

  4 Daniel Isaac Block, For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2014), 1.

  5 A.W. Tozer, The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship, ed. James L. Snyder (Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers, 2009), 44.

  6 A.W. Tozer, The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship, ed. James L. Snyder (Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers, 2009), 15.

  7 Matt Boswell, How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader: Doxology (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2013), 53.

  8 Elmer L. Towns and Vernon M. Whaley, Worship through the Ages: How the Great Awakenings Shape Evangelical Worship (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2012), 13.

9 Tozer, A.W. The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship. Edited by James L. Snyder. Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers, 2009.

Be A Student

of the Word

“True knowledge begins with spiritual knowledge, knowledge of God, and that is to be found in God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible and in Jesus’ own life and work, the work of the Savior.” 

 

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  The adjective diligent is described in the Collins English Dictionary as being “careful and persevering in carrying out tasks or duties.”  As worship leaders in the Salvation Army, diligence is something we are familiar with, although we may not pay attention to it. Despite it all, spiritual knowledge needs to be a fundamental part of our daily walk with the Lord. If God’s Word is not being revealed to us by His Spirit, so that transformation into Christ’s likeness continually takes place, how can we lead others in that same journey? How can we share and lead others in what we do not know? 

 

As God’s servants at the corps, we must be prepared every week to ‘rightly divide the word of truth.’ That spiritual process is developed as we study God’s inerrant truth. If we are slothful in studying God’s Word privately – a daily seeking of God’s truth, being revealed to us by His Holy Spirit – we are not practicing spiritual diligence. God’s Word must be read, meditated upon, journaled, rightly interpreted through the illumination of His Spirit, and memorized. Dr. Melvin Worthington, professor of Worship Studies at Liberty University, indicates the importance of being a ‘student of the Word.’

 

Study of the Scriptures is very important to the child of God. If you’re going to worship properly, you must know the Scriptures; it is suggested that you read the scriptures, reflect on the Scriptures, research the Scriptures, record the Scriptures on a daily journal, you receive the Scriptures by faith, you respond to the Scriptures, you remember the Scriptures, you retain the Scriptures, you review the Scriptures, you reproduce the Scriptures, and you rely on the Scriptures. 

 

If we are going to lead God’s people in Biblical worship at the corps, how much more is this truth relevant for us. “Since worship leaders are those who lead the people of God in encountering Him in corporate worship, then above all things, we ought to study Him.”  

Dr. Robert Morgan, author of  Mastering Life Before It’s Too Late, adds, “In order to be a Biblical worship leader, then it’s important for us to be a Biblical Christian, which means we are Christians who are personally committed to the study of the Bible.”  Our understanding of who He is and who we are in Him is displayed in the songs we choose to sing, the Scriptures we read, and the prayers we offer to our Heavenly Father in corporate worship. God desires that we remain consistent in our pursuit of knowing Him in a personal way, and the study of such knowledge is what we know as theology.

As God’s storytellers, we have to be theologians at heart! We are charged with sharing the whole counsel of God from Genesis to Revelation, and that will not be possible unless we are students of the Word. It is not enough to be talented and skillful in our instruments or creative abilities when leading our corps family in corporate worship. God’s Word must be known in the depths of our being; “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  

 

Author Matt Boswell notes, “Worship leaders are singing theologians. We communicate truth with poetry and verse; we organize doctrine with rhythm and rhyme; we proclaim the good news through melody and harmony. With every stanza of every hymn, we are articulating and teaching what we believe, intentional or not…the commitment to be a worship leader is a commitment to theological growth.”  Thus, worship theology is a subject matter that music and creative arts local officers in The Salvation Army need to invest personal time and resources in studying. Through our search, God’s nature will be revealed; His character, attributes, His perfect plan, purpose, and provision for Creation in a sinful state will be disclosed. Worship theology will show us who we are and why we exist as His image-bearers. It will give us the proper, foundational perspective for our Christian worldview in contrast to other secular worldviews. It will help us lead our corps family in Biblical worship.

 

Have you ever given it a thought? As music and creative arts local officers, why do we do what we do? With what knowledge do we do what we do? Here is an even more direct question: Are we studying God’s Word diligently and daily to minister God’s revelation of Himself to our corps family? We are living in uncertain times as a result of a health pandemic of global proportions. However, this involuntary Sabbath is an excellent opportunity for us to reassess our diligence as God’s Kingdom messengers. We have been entrusted with the ministry and message of reconciliation (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19) that we read in the Scriptures. Praise be to God that the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and creativity to interpret the gospel through music and creative arts. 

 

In 2014, the Pew Research Center surveyed 35,071 adults and found that only 35% read Scripture weekly, not even daily. Although this was taken six years ago, do you fall in that dire category today? Ask yourself, have I been seeking to study this book of instruction continually? Have I been meditating on it day and night so that I am sure to obey everything written in it?  True knowledge of God requires it. Therefore, dig into God’s Word. Ask God’s Holy Spirit to incline your heart to thirst for His Word. Set time aside to encounter God through His revealed Word, to hear from our Saviour Jesus Christ. Next time, we will dig a little deeper into the significance of the meaning of knowing God. Stay safe and keep on trusting God’s unchanging hands.

Bibliography

1/ James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive and Readable Theology, revised and expanded [edition ed. (Westmont:        InterVarsity Press, 2018), 5.

2/  2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

3/ Collins English Dictionary, Digital ed. (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2012), s.v. “Diligent.”

4/ Melvin Worthington, “Occasions of Worship and Scripture” (Video of lecture, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA, Spring 2020), 

5/ Matt Boswell, How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader: Doxology (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2013), 2.

6/  Robert Morgan, “Presentation: Worship and Preaching - Part 1” (Video of lecture, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA, Spring 2020)

7/  2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

8/ Matt Boswell, How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader: Doxology (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2013), 9.

9/  Joshua 1:8 (NLT - paraphrased)

 

Knowledge of God!

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”[1]

 

 A. W. Tozer's declaration relating to the knowledge of God is of eternal importance for God's image-bearers.  Tozer continues, “Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.”[2] What are your thoughts and ideas about God? What is the source from where these thoughts and ideas arise? As Salvationist worship leaders, what we think of God is what we live, sing, teach, and preach – it is what we lead God's people to believe.

 

We read in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”[3] As creatures whose lives are divinely designed for the worship of our Triune God, we must be diligent in disciplining our minds to think about whom He says He is (His nature, character, attributes), His perfect plan for creation, perfect provision for our fallen state and His presence manifested throughout history according to Scripture. James Boice said it best, “…true knowledge begins with spiritual knowledge, knowledge of God, and that is to be found in God’s revelation of himself in the Bible and in Jesus’ own life and work, the work of the Saviour.”[4]

 

Has it ever crossed your thought-process that the Creator of the universe desires for you and I to know Him personally? Authors Boyer and Hall explain the profound mystery of God, "To approach God is to approach an unfathomable depth of reality and truth that, like the sun in the sky, is too intense, too bright to look at, but that nevertheless brings meaning and coherence and beauty to everything else. God is a mystery."[5] As astonishing and perplexed as this reality is, Yahweh still longs for His image-bearers to know Him intimately. Scripture is His revelation, which testifies of His unconditional, steadfast love for us. Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23), came down from His Heavenly throne to make His dwelling among us (John 1:14). 

 

As Salvationist music and arts leaders, our spiritual maturation continued in our ongoing, personal experience of God's knowledge, will equip us to share His good news in a powerful and relevant way through the creative ministries we serve in. How does theology reveal who God is? 

 

In the first article of this series, we acknowledged God’s nature, character, attributes and they are worth a reiteration:

God is Holy (read 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 77:13; Revelation 4:8)

Infinite/Self-Existing (read Psalm 147:5; Colossians 1:17)

God is Unchanging (read Malachi 3:6; James 1:17)

Omniscient – All-Knowing (read Isaiah 46:9-10)

Omnipresent – Always Everywhere (read Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:23-24)

Omnipotent – All-Powerful (read Psalm 33:6; Job 11:7-11).

He is faithful, gracious, good, glorious, just, loving, merciful, wise, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The question is, how has He manifested Himself to you lately – especially through COVID? Furthermore, how are we displaying such knowledge of our Triune God in corporate worship? Do we sing or read Scripture about His nature, character, and attributes? 

 

Secondly, knowledge of God also witnesses our fallen state as His creatures and the need for redemption. Our fifth doctrine in the Salvation Army makes this reality plain, “We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocency, but by their disobedience they lost their purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.” James M. Boice agrees and states, 

 

On the one hand, knowledge of ourselves through the knowledge of God is humbling. We are not God, nor are we like him. He is holy; we are unholy. He is good; we are not good. He is wise; we are foolish. He is strong; we are weak. He is loving and gracious; we are filled with hate and with selfish affections…on the other hand, such knowledge of ourselves through the knowledge of God is also reassuring and satisfying. For in spite of what we have become, we are still God’s creation and are loved by him. No higher dignity has been given to women and men than the dignity the Bible gives them.[6]

 

            Thirdly, praise be to God that knowing Him also reassures us that a perfect, sacrificial Lamb took upon Himself our sins and gave us new life. Through Jesus Christ, we receive salvation and are born again of the Spirit (read Ephesians 1:3-14). Reconciliation is available to the 'whosoever' who declares with their mouths, "'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead."[7] As Salvation Army worship leaders, we must extend this invitation when we lead God’s people in corporate worship and within our sphere of influence outside the Corps building at every opportunity. James M. Boice once again adds, “Consequently, according to the Bible, knowledge of God takes place only where there is also knowledge of ourselves in our deep spiritual need and where there is an accompanying acceptance of God’s gracious provision for our need through the work of Christ and the application of that work to us by God’s Spirit. Knowledge of God takes place in the context of Christian piety, worship, and devotion.”[8]

Lastly, knowledge of God is evident through His redemption of our lives on a personal level. Throughout the history of Israel, we see time and again God’s redemptive footprint for His people. That same love has been extended to the 'whosoever' – you and me – and it needs to continue to echo unto eternity by bringing to the Father those who are still lost. "The love of God is one of the great realities of the universe, a pillar upon which the hope of the world rests. But it is a personal, intimate thing, too. God does not love populations, He loves people. He loves not masses, but men. He loves us all with a mighty love that has no beginning and can have no end."[9] Amen!

 

As Salvationist worship leaders, may we always remind God's people of whom He says we are in Him and also whom He says He is as we lead corporate worship (His nature, character, attributes, perfect provision/purpose, presence) – all found in His love letter to His beloved, the Bible. May our personal walk with Him also testify of the Great I AM.

 

[1] A W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God, Their Meaning in the Christian Life (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978), 1.

 

[2] Ibid., 4.

 

[3] John 17:3

 

[4] James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive and Readable Theology, revised and expanded edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2018), 5.

 

[5] Steven D. Boyer and Christopher A. Hall, The Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012), 10.

[6] Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, 11.

 

[7] Romans 10:9 (paraphrased – NIV)

 

[8] Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, 9.

[9] Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 102. 

Bibliography/Book Recommendations

 

Boice, James M. Foundations of Christian Faith: A Comprehensive and Readable Theology, revised and expanded edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2018.

 

Boyer, Steven D., and Christopher A. Hall. The Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012.

 

Tozer, A W. The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God, Their Meaning in the Christian Life. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978.

 

LIVING IN THE LIKENESS

 OF

JESUS CHRIST

“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is Vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.” 

– Bernard of Clairvaux

 

We have now come to this crossroads of worship theology, where one has to make a decision requiring consistency and not superficiality. As a worship leader in the Salvation Army, are you going to use your knowledge of the mystery of God for vanity and curiosity’s sake, or are you going to live it out? This is the ‘now what’ personal reflection portion of our series. Such is the query often asked once a sermon, devotional thought, or a parable has been shared. Knowledge of God does not culminate with the intellectual information obtained – obedient action needs to occur based on the divine truth shared and believed from our loving God (John 17:17).

Exercising our knowledge of the truth concerning worship theology is demonstrated by letting God’s Spirit lead us into the depths of holy living. Paul admonishes his mentee Timothy to beware of those who have a form of godliness, to be seen by people while rejecting the power that can make them godly.1  Jesus Christ, our Saviour, is the perfect example of holiness that pleased God the Father. His words found in Luke 6:46-49 gets to the crux of the shallowness some manifest as worship leaders.

 

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”2

Our first doctrine states, “We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.”

he keyword here – PRACTICE! Many of us have heard of the familiar adage ‘Practice what you preach’ or ‘practice makes permanent.’ Very real for believers yet, what are we to practice as worship leaders within the Salvation Army intentionally? The answer is the lifestyle of worship Jesus Christ lived – a holy, set apart, compassionate, steadfast, gracious, merciful, patient, kind, restful, forgiving, and the list of attributes goes on. Author T. J. Addington states, “The key to authenticity is the hidden work a leader does to grow and feed his or her inner life so that its overflow is healthy, consistent, and authentic” 3 spiritual disciplines. 

This daily, consistent practice involves spiritual disciplines that draw the servant of Christ closer to His likeness. There are three I would love to ask you to either bring back or practice anew in your life. In our busy, restless world, how important is it for us to exercise the discipline of Sabbath – resting in God’s abundance? Author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun notes, “Sadly, everything about us works against slowing down. Our compulsion to produce and not waste time invades the space God gave for us to rest… Sabbath is God’s way of saying, ‘Stop. Notice your limits. Don’t burn out.’” 4 Do not get so caught up in doing that you neglect the importance of being in a close relationship with Jesus – burnout is real; ask a local officer near you for evidence. 

Another spiritual discipline that will help you and I grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ is unplugging. The over-saturation of social media and the use of screens in our postmodern world has reached addictive proportions for God’s people of all ages. Calhoun shares, “In a world where people use the Internet an average of 30 hours a week and keep the TV or radio on 7.9 hours a day, we need to get unplugged from virtual reality and address our addiction to technology and the toxins it brings into our lives.”5  Satan desires nothing more than to see us distracted by virtuality rather than focus on being present to God and being present to real human faces.

 

Lastly, the spiritual discipline of confession and self-examination is paramount for us as worship leaders. Seeking to be like Jesus involves introspective, self-examining under the Holy Spirit’s influence. Sin impedes the continual transformation needed in our lives. Calhoun adds, “Self-examination is a process whereby the Holy Spirit opens my heart to what is true about me. This is not the same thing as a neurotic shame-inducing inventory. Instead it is a way of opening myself to God within the safety of his love so I can authentically seek transformation. Confession embraces Christ’s gift of forgiveness and restoration while setting us on the path to renewal and change.” 6 In addition to that, seek the counsel and accountability of another brother and sister in Christ, never isolate and become the enemy’s vulnerable prey. 

 

God has called us to live holy lives, and as worship leaders, He uses us as vessels to lead His people into a lifestyle of holiness corporately and as individuals. Richard J. Foster notes, “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”7 Worship theology makes us comprehend that Christlikeness comes from our ‘seeking’ God’s Kingdom above all else and living a disciplined, set-apart life (Matthew 6:33).

A life of spiritual depth and maturity increased by His Spirit’s leading, upon a firm foundation that will not give way as tempting trends and empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense abound (Colossians 2:8).

We are kingdom people with kingdom purposes under a divine agenda. At whichever corps you are ministering may you remain encouraged to “follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 8 

 

Lead God’s people as Jesus Christ is personally leading you. Samuel Brengle said it best, “Holiness is more than pure living, it is pure love.” Love for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and for our neighbors – the greatest commandment. Just do it! You corps needs you too and our Kingdom purpose as worship leaders in the Salvation Army necessitates that reciprocal, loving action.

We are kingdom people with kingdom purposes under a divine agenda.

SA Worship Magazine would like to thank Adely for writing the Worship Theology articles for the 2020 editions of the Magazine. 

 

His writing has been insightful and challenging. We know that readers have been challenged and guided to be better leaders because of reading these articles. 

 

Adely is the Divisional Music Director of the Florida Music and Arts Department.

Adely.jpeg

1) 2 Timothy 3:5

2) Luke 6:46-49

3) T J. Addington, Deep Influence: Unseen Practices That Will Revolutionize Your Leadership (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014), 29.

4) Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 41-42.

5) Ibid., 87.

6) Ibid., 91.

7) Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth

8) Ephesians 5:1-2

 

Bibliography/Book Recommendations

Addington, T J. Deep Influence: Unseen Practices That Will Revolutionize Your Leadership. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014.

Baab, Lynne M. Sabbath Keeping: Finding Freedom in the Rhythms of Rest. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2005

Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2005.

Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. Rev. ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.