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Selfish and incessantly critical worshippers may find all kinds of things to complain about in the worship service. I’m reminded of a story about a family that was driving home on Sunday morning and the mother complained that the song leader sang too slowly. The father complained about the boring sermon. Then both parents began to list all of the vain repetitions they remembered from the multiple prayers. That‘s when little Johnie spoke up and said, “I thought it was a pretty good show for a nickel.”

In response to worship critics, some have rebuked, “Worship isn’t about you!” While it is true that worship should please God and be done in accordance with His will (John 4:23-24), the worship experience is also about the worshippers. The assembly itself is intended by God to build us up, to provoke us to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). It’s about us. A good preacher is going to consider his audience as he prepares and delivers his message. The “convince, rebuke, exhort” of the Word is not aimed at God (2 Timothy 4:2). It’s about us. Our singing is directed to the Lord, but it’s also directed toward one another. And there is something about song that touches the human heart. It’s designed by God to teach, inspire, motivate and encourage us (Ephesians 5:19, James 5:13). The singing is about us. The giving not only helps us to grow spiritually, the money that is collected is used to benefit us and other people. We are giving because God wants us to. But it’s also about us. In partaking of the Lord’s Supper we are to remember the Lord but it is also communion with one another. It is a fellowship. We share a meal. It’s about us.

All Things being equal with two churches, except for the worship, which assembly would you rather be a part of? A church where the singing was off pitch, half speed and every song was a least 100 years old. The sermons were ill prepared, out of touch and impassionate. You could quote most of the lines in the prayers before they were voiced. The Lord’s Supper lasted all of 60 seconds. The giving seemed to be a nod to formality without much meditation. Or a church where every part of the worship service seemed to be thought out, planned and prepared? The singing was on pitch, up to speed and the words lured you into the message without much mental effort. The sermon was not only Biblical, but obviously prepared, relevant, and easy to follow and delivered with love and conviction. You didn’t have to do mental gymnastics to pay attention to the prayers because each line was original, personal and without vain repetition. Your mind clearly focused on Jesus, his body and blood during the Lord’s Supper and you didn’t have to worry about missing it if you blinked. Giving was a celebrated opportunity to work together in doing good things for the cause of Christ.

Worship is about God, but the worship experience is also about the worshippers. Recognizing that enables us to listen and learn from criticism. Worship leaders should feel the pressure, not to put on a show, but to LEAD hearts and minds, to engage men and women in worship. And in response to those with whom we disagree about what Biblical worship is, we can do better than respond, “Worship isn’t about you.” – Taken from “The Harvester,” bulletin of the church in Trenton, TN (October 8, 2023).