Is your worship effective? Does it do what it’s supposed to do? This can be a difficult question, as in many cases we as worship leaders are tasked with pleasing two groups, pastors and congregations. While these two group are important they aren’t nearly as important as pleasing and serving God. However, pastors and congregations are usually more directly vocal when it comes to giving feedback on a worship service — not necessarily a bad thing, but in some cases it can distract us from discerning whether our worship is effective in God’s eyes.
How does God measure worship?
Often when addressing this question we focus on the functional elements of a worship service. Did we sing songs? Did we read scripture? Were people engaged? Did the pastor compliment the song selection? These elements are all important to the functional aspects of a worship service, but they miss the big question — Is worship shaping us into the people of God for the purposes of God?
The shaping of people into “little Christs” is not something that can be easily measured at the weekly worship service level. However, it can be seen in the growing love of the church (John 13:35) and exemplified through gospel action (James 2:17 – 18, Micah 6:8). In being formed into the likeness of Christ, the character of Christ should be seen more and more in the people of the church (such as the fruit of the Spirit). Related to gospel action, the response to effective worship is a church on mission.
In his book Let the nations be glad! John Piper made the profound statement “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” Throughout the scriptures the mission of God is clear — God pursues people to redeem them for His glory. While we were yet enemies Christ gave His life for us (Romans 5:10). The right response to this reality is a life submitted to the worship of God. Accordingly, as we take on the character of God through worshiping Him we find ourselves moved to join in God’s mission. If we take the challenge of James to show our faith through action, and we take the charge in Micah to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God, then we will become a people irresistibly drawn to living out the mission of God.
This brings us back to the original question — is your worship effective? Remember, the question isn’t “Do we have a great band?” or “Did people get a good feeling?” — the question is “Does our worship shape us into the people of God for the purposes of God?” If your worship is effective then the results will be obvious. You and your church will be drawn selflessly toward living the mission of God. People in your congregation will begin reaching out in new and unexpected ways; they will express interest in serving the poor, the needy and the defenseless. They will begin loving their neighbor as themselves; they will desire to take worship outside of the church and into the world. This is the result of truly effective worship…lives increasingly submitted to, and shaped by, the person of Jesus Christ.
Paul Gratton is a songwriter and worship leader from Central Oregon. He is also a co-founder of Weiv, an interactive software company, and a doctoral student at George Fox University. You can find Paul’s music at ywmh.org and download some of his free visual worship tools at weiv.co.