As a pastor who has traveled extensively, I’ve experienced many styles and formats of corporate worship. Most have the basic elements I mentioned above, but only a few church bodies really enter in to unified corporate worship. Few get beyond the cultural trappings of their brand of worship and beyond the gate of their will to touch the spiritually tangible hem of Jesus’ garment.
The one area of corporate worship that gets more scrutiny than any other is music, especially in the USA. Even strongly grace-minded people often see worship in music as a performance to be evaluated rather than an opportunity to access heaven. Seemingly mature Christians will criticize a musical worship team for ‘the worship’ without considering their own willful choices. Some are more tuned to their 5 natural senses than their spiritual senses. People say things like ‘I just couldn’t get into the music today because of the choice of songs’ or ‘I think the worship was poor today because a certain person was or was not leading the music’ or ‘I have a hard time worshipping when a certain person is here’. Their eyes are more dominant than their spirit, so to speak. Many church bodies do not enter into that awesome, sacrificial place of corporate worship because people choose to stay on the outside using peripheral issues as excuses for their personal willful act of not entering in. They choose to be part of the problem rather than part of the answer.
Leaders….it starts with us. Teach the people to willfully enter in to a place of worship at the time they step into that corporate gathering place. Teach them to choose kingdom minded worship rather than carnal minded worship. Teach them to focus on the One to be worshipped rather than the people involved in worship. Encourage them to press beyond the narrow gateway of the will into the tangible presence of the Holy of Holies. And…..be willing to be the one who leads the way. Be the example! Just as Paul said ‘imitate me’, so we as leaders should be able to say ‘imitate me in worship’. Choose it and see the glory of the Lord!