Challies Missed the Mark

Tim Challies’ blog post, “The Mark of the Most Successful Worship Leaders”, if you will excuse the expression, ‘missed the mark’. Perhaps he would have ‘hit the mark’ if he either entitled it, “The Mark of the Most Successful Song Leaders” or had measured their success by their ability to actually lead people in the worship of God.

“…here is my observation: The most successful worship leaders are the ones who want to hear their congregations sing—to really sing. The most successful worship leaders are the ones most attuned to the musical ability of their congregations and the ones most committed to choosing songs their people can sing. They prioritize these factors over a host of others.”

“A worship leader serves his congregation best when he chooses songs they can sing and sing well. He is highly attuned to their ability. He prioritizes the singability of songs over their newness or oldness or author or theological density. He gauges his success not by his own worship, but by theirs. His question is not “how did the band feel?” but
“how did the congregation sing?” When he steps back and hears his church singing—really singing—, his joy is complete.”  Tim Challies, August 9, 2017

REALLY??? Maybe his question should be what is worship? I thought the priority of worship, was the subject of the worship, not the medium of the worship. Oh I get it; the song is the subject and singing is the medium. It is what man is doing and how he feels that determines whether ‘worship’ is good or bad. The bottom line is that man’s subjective experience is what matters; man is the center of ‘worship’.

Tim Challies’ observations of how churches worship exposes the problem with many of them; they don’t worship God. Their worship is essentially man centered, subjective and experiential. It is not about the spirit, it’s about the flesh. It’s not a response to God it’s a response to things that stimulate the flesh. It is not regulated by the Word of God; not concerned with knowledge; it is regulated by and focused on feelings.

Modern worship is using the things in the world to stimulate the flesh; loud music, a driving beat of the drum, lights, and many other stimuli to create the experience desired by the lusts of the flesh. The Apostle John warned about that in his first epistle.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:15-16

True worship must begin and end with God; it is an appropriate response to His being and to His works; to who He is and to what He has done. Therefore, worship like wisdom must begin with the knowledge of Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Prov 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Prov 9:10
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; 1 Chronicles 16:29

The Apostle Paul described ‘successful worship’

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17

“…but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” Eph. 5:18-20

Worship is the exultation of God that is motivated by, and flows out of a thankful heart. A heart that has been regenerated and is indwelled by the Word & Spirit of Christ. It is a voluntary outpouring of love and exultation for Him. When we come together corporately we “address one another”, we teach and admonish and encourage one another in the Lord. Isn’t that one of the things stressed in Hebrews 10?

“… And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together…” Heb 10:24-25

What do the Psalms teach us about worshipping in song?

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:1-2

Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Psalm 98:4,6

If you will take the time to read the psalms and meditate on them you will soon discover that they focus on God and His works.
Successful Worship is not measured by what the song leader hears or feels. It is measured by God; He is the one that sees what is truly in the heart of the worshipper. It is His joy and acceptance that matters, not the song leader’s.


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