Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ

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Response to Last Week’s Post, “For God’s Sake… Don’t Do This”

Question-MarkMy post last week was entitled “For God’s Sake… Don’t Do This!”.  You can read it here: https://goingfullcircleblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/for-gods-sake-please-dont-do-this. On Wednesday of last week the article was read more than 120 times that one day and totaled 153 reads for the week.  There were several excellent comments posted by readers, too, and I encourage you to click above and go back and check them out.

Where did things go wrong in the case study I presented in last week’s article? How can we fit our understanding of worship and culture together in a way that glorifies God and takes us full circle? Let’s start by reviewing what we know so far in this journey of “Going Full Circle in worship, discipleship, and mission.”

  1. First, God created worship for himself. Worship is never about us; instead, worship is “all about” God.
  2. Second, our style preferences are idolatrous when we put them on the throne of worship.
  3. Third, real worship, empowered by spirit and truth, connects us to God to help us fall deeply in love with him. This love ignites us to a lifetime of daily discipleship and mission.
  4. Fourth, culture is a tool from God we can use to connect people with him.

Here is my two-fold conclusion. Read it carefully and think about it. It may shake your pre-conceptions:

  1. IN THE CHURCH: We must use indigenous cultural styles to connect Christians to God in their heart language even if the style they love seems somewhat outdated to others. Regardless of style, worship must be totally focused on God alone. Style in the church exists for no other reason than to connect Christians with God and move them to deeper discipleship and mission – not to keep members happy, giving, or attending. So, in the church, we offer worship in the members’ heart languages to intentionally move them to daily discipleship and mission action.
  2. IN THE WORLD: As Christians are connected with God in worship and discipleship, God sends us to the world to connect others with him in their heart language. Christians must learn the unique cultural expressions and styles of our target group so we can communicate the gospel in their indigenous heart language.

There it is, as simple as that. We first worship in our heart language. Then we go learn the heart language of the target group to whom God sends us. With this understanding, our slavery to attractional thinking can be broken. We are free to connect Christians with God in a style that fits them best so that they can be sent on mission.  — Mark Powers





TowerThen they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves . . .” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth . . .. There the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Genesis 11:4–9, NIV 

This biblical story is commonly referred to as the Tower of Babel. Here are men who decided to try to transcend God by building a monument to their own power and their own ingenuity. Do situations like that ever occur in churches today?

The young worship leader came to his new church assignment with excitement. But he encountered a congregation there that had worshiped basically the same way for the past 30 years. Most of the members were very happy worshiping that way. Nevertheless, they also agreed it might be time to freshen up their song choices with some newer expressions of faith. So they looked forward to the arrival of their new worship leader with guarded anticipation. But what they got was a full frontal assault. He changed everything: the songs, accompaniment, order of worship, volume levels, and everything else that was possibly changeable. A few younger members applauded his assault on the status quo. But the majority of the congregation was shocked and saddened to have their worship turned upside down. Some got angry. Relationships between the worship leader and the people became awkward and forced. Church members reacted with cool nods as they passed him in the church hallways and grocery store aisles. The beleaguered young worship leader sought advice from a pastor who took his own church through such a major change of worship style. The changes this pastor had instigated in his church had come at a high cost, as many had left that church. But the pastor firmly believed that his church was better off without those tired old traditionalists holding them back. He noted that the remnant left behind was worshiping with real feeling, and he was sure many more would be attracted soon to join the church. His attractional rationale, of course, was to win the world for Christ by getting people to come to church. He expected that the remaining remnant would soon see numerical growth since worship was “so much better now”. So when the young worship leader sought out the pastor’s advice it was given authoritatively: “You are the leader; you are in charge; you must make them follow you. And if they fire you, you can always go start a church somewhere else. Don’t let them intimidate you. God is in this.”

Now, please allow me to ask some tough questions:

1.) How is this young worship leader’s approach any different from the missionary who forces his home culture on the native people he is called to serve?

2.) How can this pastor be so misled as to think that the way to grow the body of Christ in spiritual maturity is to run off a large percentage of the membership?

3.) How can either of these men think that their personal preference of worship style is superior to those faithful members who have been there for years?

Our calling as worship leaders – like a missionary – is to discover the worship heart language of those we are called to, use it to grow them as disciples, and lead them on mission to their community.  Like those in Babel, we cannot expect to escape the judgment of God if we are instead building memorials to our own stylistic tastes. The answers seem obvious to me; yet I encounter this situation constantly in my work with churches. I know that a church member who cannot support the stated mission of the pastor is right to find another church. But the notion that we must purify the church of longtime members by forcing a foreign worship culture on them seems ridiculous to me. And I find this especially aggravating if the rationale behind that strategy is: “We’ll win the world by getting the world to come to church.” NO!  The Bible says we will win the world by getting the church to GO to the world.

Disguised in our worship wars is often a far deadlier enemy than stylistic change for the sake of attracting the world. The hidden enemy in many worship wars is our selfish desire to have our own way and be in control. Think about it!

— Mark Powers



Please post your feedback and comments so we can work through this issue together!  Thanks.

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My 2015 Blog STAT Summary: 2700 reads from 36 countries!

GFC iconDuring 2015, my Going Full Circle Blog http://www.GoingFullCircleBlog.wordpress.com was read 2700 times in 36 countries!  I am amazed and humbled.  Who would have ever thought God would take my book “Going Full Circle: Worship that Moves Us to Discipleship and Missions” http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EFG0HWG and allow me to impact that many lives by sharing it through the blog over and above book sales?  Certainly not me.

Here are some more stats of interest:

  • I posted 46 times during 2015.
  • Top referring sites were: Facebook, WorshipIdeas.com, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • Highest numbers of readers are from the United States then Canada and the United Kingdom followed by South Africa, India, and Australia. Others represented were France, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, Thailand, Japan, Italy, Germany… and one from Russia. Isn’t that amazing?
  • MY TOP FIVE MOST READ POSTS WERE (click a title to read the post):
  1. Eight Simple Principles of Worship Planning
  2. How To Stop Worship Wars Before They Start
  3. Here’s What’s Wrong With Our Church Signs
  4. Is Your Style Preference An Enemy of Biblical Worship
  5. Here’s the Only Thing That Empowers True Worship

Thank YOU, my friend, for being a follower of Christ and reading my heart-felt attempts to always point you toward our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… Going Full Circle as worshiper, disciple-maker, and missionary for His Kingdom!  Happy New Year.  — Mark Powers

P.S. Save this website in your “Favorites” then copy the link from your browser into an e-mail message to someone you would like to invite to join our journey.