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God is looking for worshipers, not just worship, speaker says

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Churchgoers today seem to have misplaced the true meaning of worship, Robert Wagoner told church leaders attending the Church Music Leadership Conference, July 14-20 at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center, Glorieta, N.M.

“God is looking for people whose minds and hearts are bent toward him,” said Wagoner, large church/worship consultant in the music ministries department at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“One reason I think Baptists have trouble worshiping is because they are afraid of what somebody else is going to think about them,” said Wagoner, who taught the new six-week study by Henry Blackaby and Ron Owens, “Worship: Believers Experiencing God.”

“Real worship means I’m focused on Jesus. I’ve come into complete God consciousness and I’m praising him, not worrying what somebody else is thinking,” Wagoner said.

God is not seeking worship, he’s seeking worshipers, said Wagoner, noting that Satan is pretty good at distorting the true meaning of worship. Some of the ways Satan distorts worship, he said, are through the traditions, words, persuasions and pleadings of men.

“Satan uses the perpetuated fads and the allure of popularity to distort true worship,” Wagoner said.

Worship is misplaced when people venerate the sanctuary. “How can you tell when this is happening? You can tell when people fight over pews, get upset over the P.A. system or argue over material things at the church.”

Worship is also misplaced if people adore a person, such as a pastor, music leader or other type of minister instead of God, he said.

“When people find out their pastor or music leader is not perfect and they leave the church, then where was their focus? We need our people to understand they are not to place their focus on a person, pastor, minister of music or church leader. We’re not worthy of worship.”

Worship is misplaced if people clamor for power on committees, value absolute perfection in administration or care more about church programs than giving reverence to God, he said.

“When people are focused on things rather than the Lord Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility to teach them what it means to truly worship the Lord,” he said. “The devil is working overtime in getting our people to misplace their worship.”

Wagoner noted that Blackaby and Owens emphasize the importance of worshiping God in spirit and in truth. But, he asked, what does this mean?

When people worship in spirit, they are worshiping in sincerity and from the heart, he said. “A lot of people miss it by about 18 inches. Their worship is all in their minds.”

Wagoner said there are four requirements to worshiping in spirit. They are to be born again, to give adoration and praise to God, to maintain a repentant and contrite heart toward God and to focus on God.

“In many churches in our country, the minds of our people are focused on a thousand different things like where are they going to eat lunch, who’s going to win the ballgame, problems in their marriages, cancer or lost jobs. We are not to focus on the pastor, the minister of music, the soloist or even on each other. We are to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

To worship in truth means people are willing to confront, confess and abandon their sins.

Worshiping in truth also means that during the service more time will be spent reading and examining God’s Word than giving announcements or singing.

“Recently, I went to a mega-church and I counted the time they spent making announcements and welcoming guests. It was 12 to 15 minutes. Then I counted the time they spent praying and reading Scripture. It was 45 seconds,” Wagoner said.

“And we wonder why we are not experiencing the power of God in our worship services. Many of our worship services are just concerts. God is not just seeking worship; he’s seeking worshipers. Otherwise we could insert a CD of praise music and be done with it.”

The music ministries department at LifeWay Christian Resources sponsored the Church Music Leadership Conference. The study book, Worship: Believers Experiencing God, is available through the LifeWay Church Resources customer service center, 1-800-458-2772, or through LifeWay Christian Stores.

    About the Author

  • Terri Lackey