Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ

When Methodology Becomes Idolatry – Part Two

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Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Matthew 16:24, HCSB

In a world separated from God, daily life becomes a web of cravings for personal happiness. Western culture has elevated our selfish cravings to be socially acceptable and even admired. Morality has become “what makes me happy right now” rather than a behavioral standard set by God. Our culture of self-satisfaction is a trap to Christian worshipers. And the Evil One has set that trap just for you and me. Oh, how many times I have fallen into it myself. We want to be the standard by which things around us are measured. We want attention and praise and glory. Even in subtle ways we crave to have the focus on ourselves. As we humble ourselves to pray we wonder who noticed us kneeling.

In many of our churches, the absence of an intentional discipleship process leaves church members with no other frame of reference than themselves. They think they are doing the right thing because their only reference is their personal preference. But preference is only an extension of self. To enthrone my preference as the only way it should be done is to put myself on the throne of worship.

A young worship leader who I have mentored for many years was called to appear before his church’s personnel committee. On the table around which they were gathered lay his job description. One of his many responsibilities read: “Provide worship that will edify the church members and connect young families in our community with God.”

In that sentence only the first seven words had been highlighted by the chairwoman of the committee. “We have called you here to tell you that you are not meeting the worship needs of the people on this committee,” she stated.

The young worship leader reminded them that he was presenting traditional hymns as well as songs in modern styles. Then he had the audacity to ask why the second half of the phrase was not highlighted. The chairwoman spoke up, “We are not here to talk about those other people. We are the financial supporters and workers in this church, and your job is to give us what we want.”

Of course, it’s easy for worship leaders to point an accusing finger at church members. We blame our members for holding us back from true worship. But we worship leaders are not immune to idolatry. We become the self-appointed local authority on worship. We develop a worship plan and style that keeps our members happy; then we deify that order of worship. Or we may be worshiping our own personal preference for classical works or contemporary choruses or Southern gospel songs or hymns. Who are we to stand before God and tell him what he needs?

Judson Cornwall, in his book Worship as Jesus Taught It, wrote: “Whenever the method of worship becomes more important than the Person of worship, we have already prostituted our worship. There are entire congregations who worship praise and praise worship but who have not yet learned to worship God in Jesus Christ”.   — Mark Powers

Cornwall, Worship as Jesus Taught It, 70.


Author: Mark Powers

Worship Pastor, Riverland Hills Baptist Church, Columbia SC - April 1, 2018 to present Former Director, Worship and Music, South Carolina Baptist Convention, Columbia SC: 2008 - 2018 Author - "GOING FULL CIRCLE: Worship that Moves Us to Discipleship and Missions" - www.GoingFullCircle.org (Resource Publications, Wipf & Stock, Eugene OR, 2013) President, www.WorshipWise.com - Empowering YOU for Powerful Worship Leading! Presenter/Speaker on the MusicArts Mission Movement (M3). To contact MP about presenting or speaking for your conference or training event, e-mail mark@riverlandhills.org or call 803-640-9037. I would love to come and share how your worship ministries can join God on mission in your community!

One thought on “When Methodology Becomes Idolatry – Part Two

  1. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,…” (Philippians 1:21 [NASB])

    As I consider this Living Word, I continue to grow within the sanctification thereupon; that is to say, that I truly live these words- and it is truly a struggle from time to time. In God’s beautiful admonishment does He continually strip me of the dross and bonds of arrogance, pride, envy and idolatry. In all literality; He, in fullest unmerited grace (on my behalf) took away every material thing that He gave me; that I might begin to fathom the depths of His authentic and infinite Love for me. House, car, finances- and yes- even that “coat of many colors;” ripped and stained in His blood- His gifts but rags (which I, in sin, have fashioned) indeed- apart from the acknowledgement from whence they came!
    As I continually grow in the fruits of Christ Jesus (for He restores and with great newness and fervor!), the Imperishable Seed; I am often tested as to mine own responsibilities upon the recognition of Jesus’ Lordship over my heart. What a blessed opportunity it is to serve Christ Jesus! It is also an extremely frightful situation to find oneself 1. in the Father’s Will and 2. under the scrutiny of committees and committees on committees etc… Luckily; my specific willingness to serve in a ministerial / leadership role has never met face-to-face with such “committees” (present company excluded).
    While somewhat a disappointment (being completely ignored); Jesus is always alert to the desires He has placed in the depths of my heart, mind and soul. He had already lain a path for me in Holy Spirit direction. He uses all situations (including my failures) that I be sanctified unto Him- and unto His own glory.
    Make no mistake; I began to understand that when Christ Our God tests me; He is also testing others. Yes, we (the redeemed) are all being sanctified in accordance with His Will and edification. His beauteous admonishment is truly a two-edged sword. Walking through life with my heart set in worship of Him 24/7; is what He truly desires. Do I ever get it all right?! Emphatically- NO – otherwise; I’d be in His literal physical presence at this very moment instead of ‘singin’ on this proverbial “soap-box!”
    The bottom line here is, that when all is taken away (including, but not limited to personal preferences), I am (as one redeemed) graciously and mercifully brought to my knees to Jesus- the Living, Loving, Luminescent Melody and Music of the Spheres and of All the Heavens- the name above all names- Jesus. T’would seem to be but a simple word, that name- Alas; we know that it is Jesus that encompasses and sustains all life- all hearts- all worship and unto His glory- forever. Even in complete silence- Jesus is Lord….
    (thank You for the Worship that You are, dearest Lord Jesus [without ceasing….]) >

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