The Priorities Of A Purpose-Driven Church (Worship)
THE PRIORITIES OF A PURPOSE-DRIVEN CHURCH –WORSHIP
34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they gathered themselves together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 "The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
Every church is driven by something. Every church has a controlling factor, a dominant influence, or an overarching philosophy, mindset, conviction or attitude that affects and directs everything it does. Rick Warren in his book entitled THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN CHURCH says that there are seven things that drive most churches. Some churches are driven by tradition. The tradition-driven church is a church that is captivated by what God did yesterday. It is a church committed to perpetuating the past. Change is almost always viewed as bad, and stagnation is almost always viewed as stability. The tradition-driven church is a church that is commited to the seven last words of the church, “WE’VE NEVER DONE IT THAT WAY BEFORE” Some churches are driven by a dominate personality. In the personality-driven church, the pastor or some powerful church member is the dominate force. This type of church tends to take on the personality of the dominate leader and it’s agenda is set more by the will of the leader than by the will of God. If the dominate leader dies or leaves the church, this type of church finds itself seriously crippled and without leadership. Other churches are driven by finances. The number one question in a finance-driven church is “HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?” and the number one activity in this type of church is fundraising. Ministry, discipleship, and evangelism all take a backseat to raising the budget in a finance-driven church. Some churches are driven by programs. The goal of this kind of church is simply to perpetuate programs, regardless of whether or not the program has outlived its usefulness and regardless of whether or not it is meeting the needs of the people. Some churches are driven by buildings. In this type of church, the majority of the church’s financial and human resources are spent on paying for and maintaining the building. Funds earmarked for ministry have to be diverted to pay the mortgage or fix constant problems, and the ministry to the people suffers. Other churches are driven by events. The calendar of an event-driven church is packed with activity, but in the church there is very little productivity. The main focus in an event-driven church is to boost attendance at the events, with little regard for actual ministry or discipleship. And still other churches are driven by seekers. These kinds of churches forget all the other Biblical purposes of the church and just focus on attracting lost people.
But, the only thing that should drive God’s Church are God’s Purposes, His purposes should be our priorities, and His purposes are revealed in His Word! God is in the business of blessing three things: HIS WORD, HIS WILL, AND HIS WAY. If we want to be a blessed church, then we must seek to do God’s will according to God Word and God’s Way. If we want to be a blessed church, we must seek to be a purpose-driven church. BUT WHAT IS A PURPOSE DRIVEN CHURCH?
- A church driven by God’s Biblical purposes, not by man’s plans, programs, or personalities
- A church which seeks TO GROW WARMER THROUGH FELLOWSHIP, DEEPER THROUGH DISCIPLESHIP, STRONGER THROUGH WORSHIP, BROADER THROUGH MINISTRY, AND LARGER THROUGH EVANGEL
- A church that seeks to evaluate everything it does against the five purposes of the church,
- the main question in a purpose-driven church is: WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE? WHY ARE WE HERE? WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT FROM US AND HOW CAN WE DO GOD’S WILL?
JESUS SAID THAT THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT IS TO LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. Loving and worshipping God is the number one priority for the Christian. Loving and worshipping God is the number one priority of the church.
Worship is the #1 priority of the church. Today we want to deal with three critical questions about worship.
WHAT IS WORSHIP?
WHY THE CHURCH SHOULD WORSHIP?
HOW IS THE CHURCH TO WORSHIP?
WHAT IS WORSHIP? Nobody described worship better than Sir William Temple. He said that "To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God." Writing more than one hundred years ago, Alexander Paterson Smith gave this definition of worship: "To worship God is to make Him the supreme object of our esteem and delight, both in public, private, and secret." Both of those are good definitions of worship, but I submit to you today that at its very core, worship is a celebration.
And celebrations are events that all of us are familiar with. Celebrations are an important part of our individual lives. Most of us celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and special events. Celebrations are festive and happy times in which we pull out our best silverware and china, we bring flowers and gifts and take pictures as we remember the past and share our hopes for the future. Celebrations are not only important to us individually, but they are also important to us nationally. For in our national life we celebrate a variety of special days such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Usually we celebrate these national holidays with family, friends, games, picnics, dominoes, food, firecrackers, and barbeque. Whether they are individual or national, celebrations are usually times of refreshing, renewing, and restoration.
And I submit to you today, my brothers and sisters, that when the church comes together to worship the Lord, that our worship ought to be a celebration. It is the most important celebration, for when we worship we come together to celebrate the birth, the life, the death, the burial, the resurrection, and the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Worship is a celebration of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for my salvation, for your salvation, and for the salvation of the entire world. Worship is a celebration of what Jesus did in history, and how His sacrifice changes my destiny. Worship is a celebration of his victory on the cross! It’s a celebration of His holiness and power. It’s a celebration of his unconditional love. When the church comes together to worship, there ought to be an atmosphere of celebration! There ought to be a festive atmosphere of expectancy, in which we expect God to move! We expect people to be saved, we expect people to be delivered, we expect God to heal and reconcile, we expect lives to be changed.
And I want you to know today, that just because you go to church…sit in the sanctuary…put some money in the offering tray…sing a solo in the choir…bow your head at the alter…play a song on the piano…or even preach in the pulpit…that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve worshipped the Lord! My brothers and sisters unless our worship of God is…
ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES
COMES SINCERELY FROM OUR HEARTS
IS INSPIRED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
IS MIXED WITH PURE FAITH
IS SATURATED WITH FERVANT LOVE
IS FILLED WITH PRAISE & THANKSGIVING
AND BACKED BY A LIFE OF HOLINESS AND GOOD WORKS
then our worship is vain. It is empty, void, and useless…it is worthless and meaningless…it is nothing but sounding brass & tinkling cymbals, and ultimately it is displeasing and unacceptable to the Father.
But when the church comes together and engages in true and genuine worship…THE FATHER IS GLORIFIED, JESUS IS MAGNIFIED, THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GRATIFIED, THE BIBLE IS RATIFIED, THE CHURCH IS EDIFIED, OUR SOULS ARE SATISFIED, AND EVERY DEMON AND DEVIL OF HELL IS HORRIFIED! That’s why the Bible says in 1 Chronicles 16:29, “GIVE TO THE LORD THE GLORY DUE HIS NAME; BRING AN OFFERRING, AND COME BEFORE HIM; WORSHIP THE LORD IN THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS.” That’s why the psalmist declared in Psalm 95:6-7, “O, COME, LET US WORSHIP AND BOW DOWN; LET US KNEEL BEFORE THE LORD OUR MAKER, FOR HE IS OUR GOD; AND WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF HIS PASTURE, AND THE SHEEP OF HIS HAND.”
Worship is focusing on the greatness of God. It is expressing our love to God because He’s worthy to be praised. Worship requires that we open our mouths and declare the goodness of God! We’ve got to make some noise when we worship! Some of us are don’t like to hear shouts of praise in worship! We think folk ought to sit quietly; act dignified, and not speak above a whisper. But I’ve got news for you, if you don’t like noisy worship, YOU DON’T WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN. The book of Revelation pictures twenty-four elders and four heavenly creatures singing night and day without stopping, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." And listen, the creatures never rest. Their song never ceases. Day in and day out they keep crying Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty. Heaven is not the place you want to go to if you want quiet worship!
The first priority of the church is to worship. NO HEART IS SATISFIED WITHOUT IT…NO LIFE IS COMPLETE WITHOUT IT…NO SOUL IS BLESSED WITHOUT IT…NO ASSURANCE IS ENJOYED WITHOUT IT…NO DEVOTION IS FULFILLED WITHOUT IT…NO NEED IS MET WITHOUT IT…AND NO CHURCH IS PREPARED TO FACE THE PROBLEMS, THE DIFFICULTIES, THE ADVERSITIES, THE CHALLENGES, THE OBSTACLES, AND THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF WINNING THE WORLD TO CHRIST WITHOUT MAKING WORSHIP CENTRAL IN ITS MINISTRY. If we don’t learn to worship, it won’t make a bit of difference how well we do anything else. The church’s first priority is to worship.
But not only must a purpose-driven church understand what worship is, but it must also answer the question: WHY DO WE WORSHIP? Is the church to worship God out of some sense of bland duty and responsibility? Are we to come together to worship God out of some sense of fear that he will send his wrath if we don’t worship him? Are we to come to church on Sunday morning just to fulfill our spiritual duty and then go on about the business of living our lives the way we want to live? Are we to come together to worship God out of some sense of religious ritual and regulation?
No, my brothers and sisters. We are to worship God, first of all because GOD EXPECTS US TO WORSHIP HIM. This was the very purpose of Him creating us. This is the reason for the very existence of the church. Contrary to popular opinion, the church does not exist for bake sales, barbeques, and bingo. The church does not exist for committee meetings, choir rehearsals, conventions and concerts. All those things have their place. But above all else, the church exists to worship God. God desires, demands, and delights in our worship. Why do we worship Him? WE WORSHIP HIM BECAUSE HE HAS…
- SAVED US FROM OUR SINS
- LIBERATED US FROM OUR BONDAGE
- RELIEVED US FROM OUR BURDENS
- PROTECTED US FROM OUR ENEMIES
- RESCUED US FROM OUR DILEMMAS
- AND SHELTERED US FROM OUR STORMS
We worship because God has revealed himself to us. Whenever God reveals Himself, then we respond to Him in worship. In the Old Testament, God heard the groanings of his people in Egyptian bondage and he remembered his covenant with Abraham. God sent word to Moses that He would liberate his people from bondage and bring them to the promised land. God promised His people in Exodus 3:12 that He would be with them. When He spoke this encouraging word to His people, He revealed Himself as the God who is faithful. The people responded to God by worshipping Him as the Faithful God who delivers His people.
In the New Testament, God revealed Himself in the form of a baby born on Christmas Morning. Soon after Mary received the revelation that she would be the human instrument through which the Christ-child would be born, she broke forth in praise and worship and declared in Luke 1:46-47, “MY SOUL DOTH MAGNIFY THE LORD, AND MY SPIRIT HATH REJOICED IN GOD MY SAVIOR”
The church worships God because God has revealed himself as a great and awesome God. Worship is the natural response of a heart that has received the revelation of God. When God reveals Himself to us, we respond to Him in worship.
- GOD SHOWS UP IN OUR LIVES AS A DOCTOR AND HEALS OUR BODIES…AND WE REPOSND TO HIM IN WORSHIP
- GOD SHOWS UP IN OUR LIVES AS A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR AND HEALS OUR MARRIAGES…AND WE REPOND TO HIM IN WORSHIP
- GOD SHOWS UP IN OUR LIVES AS A BALM IN GILIEAD AND HEALS OUR SIN-SICK SOULS…AND WE RESPOND TO HIM IN WORSHIP
- GOD SHOWS UP IN OUR LIVES AS A DIVINE PSYCHOLOGIST AND HELPS EASE OUR TROUBLED MINDS…AND WE RESPOND TO HIM IN WORSHIP
- GOD STOPS BY AS A COSMIC CREDIT COUNSELOR & HELPS TO PAY OUR BILLS…AND WE RESPOND TO HIM IN WORSHIP
- GOD SHOWS UP AS OUR JEHOVAH-JIREH AND MIRACULOUSLY PUTS FOOD ON OUR TABLE, CLOTHES ON OUR BACKS, AND SHOES ON OUR FEET…AND WE RESPOND TO HIM IN WORSHIP.
Why do we worship? We worship God because God expects us to worship Him. We worship God because He has revealed Himself to us. But we also worship God because He has redeemed His people.
In the Old Testament, the People of God reflected on God’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and they understood that it was God who redeemed them from the oppression of their enemies. The redemption of God’s people is one of the major themes of the book of Psalms. In the New Testament, The Birth of Jesus Christ is understood by the people of God as a divine act of redemption for his people.
8 "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
. 45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
2 Cor 5:19
19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Why does the church worship God?
- BECAUSE JESUS HAS REDEEMED US
- BECAUSE JESUS HAS UNLOCKED THE DOOR TO OUR LIBERTY
- BECAUSE JESUS HAS BROKEN THE CHAINS OF OUR BONDAGE
- BECAUSE JESUS HAS REMOVED THE GUILTY STAINS OF SIN FROM OUR SOULS
- BECAUSE JESUS HAS LIFTED THE CLOUD OF GUILT AND SHAME
Why does the church worship God?
BECAUSE GOD ALONE HAS GIVEN US…
- GREAT & PRECIOUS PROMISES FROM THE WORD OF GOD
- JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY
- A LIVING HOPE THAT IS DEPENDABLE AND SURE
- SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS IN HEAVENLY PLACES
- UNSEARCHABLE RICHES IN JESUS CHRIST
- PEACE THAT PASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING
- GOD ALONE HAS GIVEN US…SUCH EVERLASTING LOVE, SUCH ABUNDANT MERCY, SUCH SUFFICIENT GRACE…
- NO ONE ELSE AND NOTHING ELSE IS WORTHY OF SUCH WORSHIP, SUCH LOVE, SUCH PRAISE, SUCH HONOR, AND SUCH ADORATION AS GOD RIGHTLY DESERVES!
And if we are going to be a purpose-driven church that makes worship our first priority, not only must we understand what worship is and understand why we worship, but we must also understand how to worship.
Jesus said in verse 37 of our scriptural text, that the greatest commandment, the highest commandment, the most important commandment, is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. this verse teaches us that the greatest thing that any individual person can do, and the greatest thing that any church can do, is to love and worship the Lord our God. But this verse also teaches us how to worship God. When Jesus says for us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, souls, and minds, he is not suggesting that we separate our worship or compartmentalize our love for him into three or four different categories. But Jesus is teaching us how we are to worship him. Jesus is suggesting that we love and worship him in a comprehensive way. He is teaching us that we should love and worship him with everything that is in our being. Jesus communicates this by the words that he used, he said that we are to worship him with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds. When Jesus said for us to love God with all our hearts, he is referring to the core of our personal being, he is saying that our worship should come from deep on the inside, our worship should not be cursory or surface, but it should be sincere and genuine worship from deep within our hearts. When Jesus said that we are to love God with all our souls, he is referring to our emotions. He is saying that true worship loves and adores God on an emotional, heartfelt level. Our hearts should long and bleed for God’s touch on our lives. When Jesus says that we are to love God with all our minds, he’s saying that we should love God intellectually, that we should reflect mentally on the character and qualities of God and as a result worship Him for who he is.
To love God with all your heart, mind and soul is to love God completely, it is to love God comprehensively. It is to love God with all your being, with all you emotions, and with all your intellect. The church is called to worship God completely, expressing total adoration and dedication to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The church is called to love God with the same kind of love with which he loves us, an AGAPE KIND OF LOVE. Agape is the New Testament Greek word that best describes the kind of love that God has for us. It is an unconditional Love, ITS NOT A SOMETIMMY, WISHY-WASHY KIND OF LOVE, but it’s an in spite of kind of love that keeps on loving no matter what the circumstances or situation may be. The church is called to worship God with an unconditional love. The church is called to worship in spite of what may be going on in the world. Jesus teaches us in this text how we are to worship God, we are to worship him totally, completely, comprehensively, and unreservedly.
When the church comes together to worship..
- OUR HANDS SHOULD BE LIFTED IN ADORATION
- OUR LIPS SHOULD BE SINGING HIS PRAISES
- OUR FEET SHOULD BE WALKING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
- OUR EYES SHOULD BE LOOKING UNTO JESUS
- OUR MINDS SHOULD BE CONCENTRATED ON JESUS
- OUR SOULS SHOULD BE LAID BARE BEFORE JESUS
- OUR ENTIRE LIVES SHOULD BE OFFERED UP TO JESUS, BECAUSE HOW WE LIVE IS REFLECTED IN HOW WE WORSHIP, AND HOW WE WORSHIP WILL BE REVEALED IN HOW WE LIVE.
The first priority of the church is to worship God. God has called us first to worship him, and then to work for Him. We are called first to minister to Him and then to minister for Him. And the only way you can truly worship Him, is you first have to belong to Him. Because you see…
- ONLY THE REDEEMED CAN TRULY WORSHIP HIM
- ONLY THE SAVED CAN SIT AT HIS FEET
- ONLY THE CHANGED CAN ENTER THE HOLY OF HOLIES
- ONLY THE BORN AGAIN CAN EAT AT HIS TABLE
- ONLY THE PURE IN HEART CAN SEE HIS FACE
- ONLY THE RIGHTEOUS CAN STAND IN HIS PRESENCE
- ONLY THE CHILDREN OF GOD CAN FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM
- YOU’VE GOT TO BE WASHED TO WORSHIP HIM…SAVED TO SERVE HIM…PURIFIED TO PRAISE HIM…