Have We Become Worship Snobs? Pastor Gus
Have We Become Worship Snobs?
1 Corinthians 14:1-26
June 2, 2019
Introduction – Richard’s story
Many of us remember in late winter or early spring, Richard Agent first sang for us in worship. Well that was Lana’s idea. She told me he was going to do the offertory. I had reluctance about Richard singing because I didn’t know if the style of song Richard was going to do was consistent with the worship music direction we have been seeking to pursue. Richard sang that morning and it was great. His love for God shone through his singing and his singing came across as an expression of his love for God and a gift he was willing to share with us. What I think most of us probably experienced through his sharing whether southern gospel/bluegrass gospel is your preference or not is the joy God has put into Richard’s heart. He has sung for us since and will continue to be encouraged to share.
That moment opened my eyes to a couple of things.
First, it opened me up to the possibility of something I have since then said, we need to strive for and that is a worship service that is eclectic musically or variety; but whatever we do, we strive to do well.
I have pointed out that some shows on television that do well are the talent shows. Even though you have a variety of people doing a variety of music styles the audience appreciates and is receptive when something is done well.
Unless a clear path rises about the group of people we can reach with a particular style of music, then for now we will use a variety of music styles in worship. We have people in our church who love the hymns, some love the bluegrass, southern gospel, and some like me who really enjoy the contemporary style of worship music and singing. There might be a better answer, but I believe the way to go forward for now is being eclectic, diverse in worship music.
The second thing I learned from having Richard sing was that I was guilty, intentionally or not of being a worship snob. By being snobbish, I mean I was guilty of excluding some possibilities of worship that could be meaningful to others.
The danger of being a worship snob are many.
Four Dangers of Snobbery
One – Worship absenteeism - when others are singing a style of music that encourages them, I might bail out and not sing which means the worship experience has become very divided and that is the exact opposite of the spirit of unity Jesus prayed (John 17) we would experience and Paul taught (1 Corinthians 12) we were to pursue.
Two when I am a worship snob, I am dictating to the Holy Spirit what can work to reach someone’s heart and minister to them.
Three when I am a worship snob, I am only thinking of myself and not of others which is the gospel in reverse. Jesus said no greater love is there than to lay down our lives for another, therefore we ought to be willing to sacrifice some of our worship preferences.
Four snobbery can be more concerned of what will attract people to be with us; instead of genuinely giving adoration/honor to God.
It has been said, “We should be less concerned about making churches full of people and more concerned about making people full of God.” Hadaway and Roozen p.17
Worship pastor, Tommy Walker has said, “We can get so strategic that we worship so our church will grow; not because he is worthy.” Tommy Walker
1 Corinthians, chapter fourteen contains teaching from the apostle Paul because he was trying to resolve problems occurring in worship. If Paul were here this morning, he might say there were some worship snobbery to address. He was confronting how the church should use spiritual gifts like prophesy and speaking in tongues. Some people thought tongues were more important than anything else and others thought other spiritual gifts were more important than tongues. I think there are some principles here that can speak to us to guide how we worship.
Let’s start with verses 1-5
Read verses 1-5
Self vs Others
Paul’s instructions begin with the encouragement of love. Remember the chapter right before fourteen is the great love chapter where Paul says the greatest of all gifts is love.
Paul said that as you come to worship, “pursue love.” The word for love is agape and it means to have a godly love toward even those who are unworthy.
The problem was some worshippers were content with doing something that was a blessing to them; but left everyone else out. Some people were speaking in tongues, a form of utterance that few could understand. There is a lot of debate about what was going on; but we know this much, most folks did not understand a person speaking in tongues.
Paul said, “For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God….” v.2
So, the experience of tongues was great for the one who had the experience; but not so much for most of the people gathered for worship. Tongues were self-gratifying.
Paul had a different take on when people gathered together for worship. Paul contrasted the value of speaking in tongues to the importance of prophesy.
Prophesy carried with it the meaning of inspired teaching, and the teaching was applicable to many. Prophesy was not telling someone about their future financial blessing they will receive.
Paul said, “On the other hand those who prophesy speak to other people for the upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves.” v.4
Tongues benefit the individual; prophesy benefits the congregation.
And here is where Paul really drive homes his point, in verse five when Paul says if you are going to speak in a tongue, do it only if you have an interpreter “so that the church may be built up.”
Point – What empowers and strength’s many is what is most important when the church gathers for worship.
Jeff Foxworthy is famous for the comedy routine, “you might be a redneck if,” well we might be a worship snob if we mainly pursue our fulfillment without consideration what is good for the whole.
Verses 6-11 Worship Needs to be Understandable
Paul then moves to how critical it is for whatever happens in worship needs to be understandable. I am just going to lift up a couple of passages.
“Now brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you in some revelation or knowledge…It is the same way with a lifeless instruments that produce sound, such as a flute or a harp. If they do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is being played.” Vs.6-8
Paul’s point – what is experienced in worship needs to be understandable to everyone.
Here is how this text can speak to us. Our worship needs to be able to make sense to more people than we who are the insiders, long-term members.
Our worship needs to be such that the newcomer can follow along.
If it doesn’t, we’ll be fostering a similar experience as the church Paul was addressing. A few will benefit, a few will understand; but most will left out.
Now obviously one the easiest places to point where this happens is still the worship music, but there are other places as well.
Prayer time – so people can be included like with the Lord’s Prayer.
The invitation to give financially.
How we invite people to share in communion and why we do it.
The purpose of our invitational moment that follows the message.
Listen, some research suggest worship attendance is not down because people don’t believe in God; but because people don’t see the relevance of what happens in churches, especially during worship. Paul called the problem out over two thousand years ago when pointed out his concern the gospel be shared in a way it is relevant to everyone, so everyone can be built up!
Verse 12 - Look again how Paul reminds the church that their spiritual gifts are for the “building up of the church”; not just getting their personal preferences met.
Verses 13-25 Use gifts to reveal God is among us.
Paul gives instructions on how tongues should be used if they are going to be used in gatherings and why.
He reminds them it is still better to speak words that can instruct everyone. Paul said, “I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” v.19
The goal of worship comes down to this, Paul said in verse 25 “…that person will bow down before God and worship Him declaring God is really among you.” V.25
Everything we do is to reveal God so anyone can leave worship knowing they experienced God in a way that helps build them up.
This is why over the past few years there has been discussion among those involved in worship covering a wide range of topics.
A couple years ago we did a group for a few weeks giving feedback to me about the message to try and increase the quality of preaching.
There has been discussion on how we can begin the worship service with a few brief words of purpose so people connect the songs were about sing to why they should praise God with excitement and purpose.
How can the invitation to financially give be done that is concise and not a mini-sermon and bore people after the sermon that was hopefully not boring?
How can communion be shared so it doesn’t become a pointless rut?
How can the invitation be done in such a way that people have a chance to respond to God with the help of myself and the elders?
Worship needs to be a place where people can come see and know God is moving.
Verse 26 Building Up is the Goal
Paul names a variety of things that can be experienced in worship.
One has a hymn
A revelation, a tongue
But Paul concludes with “Let all things be done for building up.”
So often we ask what did I get out of worship?
Did I like the songs?
Did I get anything out of the message?
Did people speak to me?
Was the sanctuary too cool or too warm?
We can stay alert about being a worship snob by asking at least this question.
How did I contribute to worship?
What if we flip the script and ask ourselves about our contributions in worship?
Did I sing along with every song?
Did I work to stay spiritually and mentally involved as the prayers were prayed, the scripture read, did I make a note of a person who really needs my prayers or maybe a visit, did I write something down that I need to remember that was mentioned in a prayer or the message.
Did I go and speak to someone after worship who needs encouraging, or did I get busy talking to my friends?
What if by the end of the service, the Spirit was leading us so much we were prepared to go to someone after worship and continue to build them up. This is why I do not go to the front door to greet members on their way out as I use t do. I want to be free at the conclusion of worship to move toward whomever I think I can serve. Number one on my radar because I believe it is number one on God’s radar is to connect with newcomers, and those who need building up.
What if the what we talked about on the ride home from worship or over lunch was whether we contributed so God could use that for another to see God is among us?
Worship really isn’t about whether each of us gets our needs met; worship is about giving ourselves to God so we sense and are used by God to reveal God’s power of truth and the warmth of his love is among us.