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7/3/97 Worship takes effort, church musicians told

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–True worship requires effort from the participants as well as the leaders, a national worship consultant told musicians during Church Music Leadership Conference at Glorieta Baptist Conference Center, June 28-July 4.
True worship happens when a high percentage of the congregation participates in the service, said Robert Wagoner of the Baptist Sunday School Board’s music ministries department. True worship is evident when lives are changed, when God does something in worship that cannot be explained and when people stay in the worship center after the service rather than leaving immediately.
Leaders must prepare themselves for worship and plan to facilitate the worship of God by others, Wagoner said.
Churches increasingly are using methods and media relevant to unchurched persons, he said, resulting in increased frequency of drama and multimedia resources in worship services.
Participants, he said, must work increasingly to focus on God rather than their problems or other distractions that dilute or eliminate true worship.
“When people worship the church building, are concerned with having a certain pew or a certain kind of sound system, their focus is not on God,” Wagoner said. “If you get upset over something physical, the devil has you focused on something other than worship.”
Likewise, he continued, persons can place too much importance on imperfect church staff persons, the desire for a particular church position or material possessions, instead of focusing on God.
“They can be ready on the outside to play church, but spiritually unprepared on the inside to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. And they may not be worshiping because you haven’t taught them how to worship,” Wagoner told music leaders.
Persons may not participate in true worship because of sin, conflict or bitterness, he suggested. And some do not sing “because we have told them, perhaps jokingly, that they can’t sing. Shame on us. God is not interested in what kind of sound comes out of your mouth. He is interested in your heart.”
Wagoner said his travels across the Southern Baptist Convention have made him aware of the worship standards and goals some churches have. Among them are:
— focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ so that music, drama and other spoken parts of worship move toward a central theme.
— worshiping God in spirit and in truth. Every participant in every facet of worship communicates with integrity and genuine emotion and is not a stumbling block for others.
— including three phases of worship in every service: person-to-person praise in which persons encourage each other to worship, person-to-God praise in which they sing and speak directly to God and God-to-person worship in which people open their hears and minds to receive God’s Word.
— honoring God with excellence.
— involving each member of the congregation in corporate worship.
While Wagoner acknowledged there are those who do not participate with an attitude of “bless me if you can,” he said most persons just need help removing the distractions of their lives from their thoughts in order to devote themselves to worship.
He said it may help some to visualize Jesus sitting on the platform receiving their acts of worship.
“We have not gathered to focus on the preacher, the minister of music, the orchestra or a soloist, but on the Lord Jesus.”
Church Music Leadership Conference was sponsored by the Baptist Sunday School Board’s music ministries department.

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  • Charles Willis