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Emphasis in Worship
The emphasis in the worship service should not be placed on the music, but upon the preaching of the Word of God. This statement might seem abhorrent to many a worship leader, but the simple fact is that the Bible clearly states that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Romans 10:17). Faith does not come by singing or by hearing inspirational and emotion-evoking music. Filling the church-members and visitors with the feeling that they really worshipped is not at all important. Rather, teaching them the doctrines of the Word of God and bringing some to faith in Christ by such doctrinal preaching is important – Very important! Singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs has its place, but a worship service should not be an hour of music followed by fifteen or twenty minutes of a sermonette. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” (I Corinthians 1:21).
If it is by the foolishness of preaching that souls are saved, let us give preaching its proper emphasis. The late revivalist Leonard Ravenhill stated that when you preach sermonettes, you get Christianettes who go outside and smoke cigarettes. The meaning there being that if Christians are taught a small amount of doctrine in a minimal amount of time every Sunday, they have no way to grow in Christ, for they have no instruction. Why not give thirty minutes to the song service, and at least an hour for the preaching? Most people will give two or three hours to a ball game, and two hours to a movie they want to see. Why not give God at least that much time for a sermon? This author does not think it is asking too much at all.
The Primary Motive of Music Selection
The primary motive in selecting worship music for many in church leadership is personal pleasure. People tend to sing music that they personally like. The difficulty in this is that everyone has different personal tastes, and the music preferences of any man are therefore unreliable. Rather, Christian leaders must select music according to the pleasure of God. The first question in selecting worship music should always be, “Will God be pleased with our selection?”
The Israelites thought they had a great worship system that everyone enjoyed, and it must have come as a great shock for them to hear Jehovah Sabaoth say, “When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them,” (Isaiah 1:12-14). Surely this is how Jehovah feels about much of the rock-infused worship in modern-day churches today, as well as the doctrine-less emotion based praise and worship songs!
When the determining factor in selecting worship music is whether it is enjoyed by Jehovah God, there is a wonderful side effect: God’s people begin to love what God loves! Hymns steeped in doctrine become precious to all who attend the services, and the music teaches the people to follow the Lord. Now, their hearts are prepared to hear and respond to the preaching of the Word of God.
The Outcome of Worship
“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness,” (I Corinthians 1:23, 24). The Bible is very clear that the object of worship is that hearts will be convicted by the Word of God. Some will repent and believe the Gospel. Those who are saved should be corrected and guided by doctrine. Many will reject the message preached, but that is their choice, and the Word of God has still done its job to convict them. If a person walks away from the church service knowing they were convicted by the Holy-Spirit, it is a truth-based outcome. This is the outcome that the Lord desires. Someone who comes away from a church service with the feeling that they really worshipped God is a person who is basing their experience on emotion rather than truth. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth,” (III John 4). Worship must be based upon truth. Let us, as Christians, desire to worship God as He would be worshipped, let us love the things that He loves, and hate the things that He hates.
 Much of what I have written here is taken directly from a chart found in Dan Lucarini’s book, Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement: Confessions of a Former Worship Leader, page 120. The book was published by Evangelical Press out of Carlisle, PA in 2002. In this author’s estimation, this book is the best publication about worship music and the author wholeheartedly recommends it to the reader.