Holistic Worship

Series: Back to Basics

 “Holistic Worship” // Message @ JRCC – Sunday, Oct 9, 2011

Text: Psalm 96 // Series: “Back to Basics (Core Values)”



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  My name is Brad, I’m part of the teaching and leadership team here at Jericho Ridge.  We are happy to see you and you have jumped in at a great time in the life of Jericho Ridge because we are exploring the very things that make us who we are as a family.  Our core values.  Core Values are the promises that we make each other about how we are going to do life together around here.  But they also serve another fantastic function and that is that they ought to help answer the questions not only of how but also the question of WHY we do things. 

So we’re going to do a little discussion exercise as we get started with the teaching aspect of this morning (if you were a teacher you would call this a quiz)…  But we’re going to review the four Core Values we have discussed in this series so far and here’s what I want you to do. I am going to put up JRCC’s 5 core values up on the screen and I want you to shout out where you see that being expressed on a Sunday morning.  Let’s use Sunday mornings as an example because even if you haven’t been around here at Jericho, if you have some background with the church, you can participate.  Does this make sense?  I want you to tell me where do you see Transformational truth happening on Sunday morning?  What activities support that?  What aspects of our morning together are built off of it? 

  1. Transformational Truth – Sept 11–Message, kids & youth teaching
  2. Glocal Service – Sept 18 – People using their gifts, global emphasis (Steph’s first Sunday in India, Stephensons work locally)
  3. Authentic Community – Sept 25 – Coffee and connection time (story of its genesis if slow), people talking in arena, serving teams praying together, sharing life together
  4. Generous Lifestyle – Oct 2 – Offering, hospitality taking others out for lunch following, people using their skill sets to solve problems  

Today we’re going to focus on our final core value         

  1. Holistic Worship – Oct 9

And we are going to continue to see how core values help us to answer the question of WHY we do what we do.  Why do we teach from the Scriptures? Because of transformational truth.  Why do we provide opportunities for you to go to Guatemala at Spring break as a family? Because of the value we place on glocal service.  Why do we emphasize taking the next step and getting connected in a Life Group? Because as you take relational risks, authentic community develops.  Why do we talk about the benefits of giving that come into your life?  Because we don’t want you miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of practicing generous living. 


When we start talking about WHY questions, questions of our core values, we are in the territory of motivation.  And many of us don’t take a lot of time, either personally or as a family or as an organization to ask these kinds of questions.  We just do stuff without examining our motives. 


Let me give you an example.  Recently we switched phone service providers – and someone asked me “why did you switch?”  I had to think about for a bit and I said well, it’s not that we didn’t like the other people, I guess it was partly a questions of services provided – we saved a few dollars a month, but if I really honest?  I think we switched partially because they gave us free stuff.  Then I thought about a few years ago, I switched banks.  Sure it was more convenient to my home, but also they gave me a free ipod.  You’re beginning to see that apparently, my loyalties can be bought.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that in these decisions and transitions, my motives and values were shaped by what is arguably our culture’s most defining and compelling question: 

What’s In It for Me?  So often my motives are driven by the question ‘what am I going to get out of this transaction that is of benefit to moi’?


And that’s fine when it comes to phone service or who I bank with, but this morning I want us to explore the unintended consequence of this kind of compelling cultural question when we bring it with us into places that it doesn’t belong.  Places like marriage.  And specific to our value of holistic worship, what happens when I bring this value to church.  You see, when W.I.F.M. comes to church, it creates a transactional view of spirituality.  I show up, I put a few bucks into the offering or I serve a few hours a week and God is therefore obligated to give me something that I need or want.  We’re going to talk more about this in our series that begins next weekend of prayer but when this occurs, it leads to seeing church or even God as a “product” and then my attendance on Sunday mornings means that I need to ‘get something’ out of the transaction.  That something could be a relational network, it could be some inspirational thought to carry me thought the week, it could be a catch song that I like or a little boost knowing that someone from the prayer team prayed for me.  But this can lead to a climate of spiritual consumerism whereby the measure of all things at a local church is “what’s in it for me?”. 


But the real problem is that biblically speaking, it’s not all about me.  You see, God made the first move.  As our Core Value on page 31 of your Momentum Journal reminds us God is the creator.  He is the sustainer and initiator and since He has made the first move, our only language is the langue of response. Both individually and corporately.  And this, friends, is holistic worship.  Author and burned out pastor Anne Jackson defines worship as “expressing our dependence on the Holy Spirit by reflecting on and celebrating all of the things God has done for us and is to us.  We do this both individually in our day to day living and corporately with other believers." (Mad Church, 125)


Now, you hear us talking time and time and time again about how worship is more than music.  But today, I want to actually turn the tables on you and talk specifically about worship in song.  There are fantastic groups of people who spend all kinds of time and energy planning, rehearsing, praying for and then leading us in worship in song.  So we better have a pretty darn good reason as to why we do it.  Well, Dustin, the good news is that we do.  There is a fantastic Biblical mandate for worship in Song.  So let’s look together at Psalm 96 and we’re going to dive into God’s Word together.  And the point that we are going to see in this text is that holistic worship is one of the most powerful ways to take a stand against the WIFM culture that can so easily seep into the church.  And this is because worship is fundamentally not about what I get from God, but rather about what I give to Him

I’m going to begin reading in Psalm 96:1-6 [2 slides] 


So why do we do what we do.  Why do we sing in church?  Is it like the previews at the movies?  If the movie start time is 6:30, you come in at 6:45 because you know that the first 15 minutes are just filler anyway, right?  Well, we sing in a corporate gathering because, firstly it is commanded.  Three times in six short verses it is very strongly worded – sing to the Lord a new song.  All thought out the bible, we have modeled for us experiences of worship to God through song.  There is just something dynamic and powerful about the medium of music that God has given to us as human being to express some of the deepest longings and aspirations of our hearts.  Now, it’s commanded that we sing a new song, that doesn’t mean that you have to be uber-musical to participate.  The Scriptures say “make a joyful noise” not make a skilled or even an on-key noise.  Some of you LOVE this pathway of connecting with God corporately, others, not as much.  It’s enough to mention that Jesus modeled it for us, both Old and New Testament examples mandate it for us and we’ll be engaged in worship in song in heaven, so this is a good rehearsal space.  We could talk more about that but you can carry on the conversation in your Life Group or with a spiritual friend about some additional possible objections and strategies to overcome them.         


We see in this passage that the language of worship in song is a corporate language.  This passage is actually straight from I Chronicles 16:23-33.  The story there is that King David is bringing the ark, the very sign of God’s presence with and among His people in the Old Testament, back to Jerusalem.  And the whole nation is there. And what do they do?  You guessed it?  They sing!  Why?  Because singing is an expression of unity (think for a minute about Coca Cola’s outright purchase of Canadian singer K-naan’s song “Wavin’ Flag” as the song for the world cup.  Think of concert experiences you have been at… music has a powerfully unifying potential to it.  But the reverse is also true…  When we turn worship into something that is not about what I give to God, but what’s in it for me, it turns ugly quickly.  Some of you who have been through very painful discussions about worship styles in the church understand how quickly this can go south, but this is something about music that crosses pay-grades, soci-economic indicators and spiritual maturity.  When we sing together, it unifies as we declare God’s character and works together.  Really, it is like a corporate prayer.  The expression of our hearts collectively to God who, Zephaniah 3:9 says “rejoices over you and I with singing”.  Sometimes when I don’t know what to pray, a song comes on the radio or in a corporate gathering and I say “yes, God… that’s what I want to say to you!” – it gives voice to my desire to say something to God.  38 times in the Old Testament we have narrative descriptions of prayers that are sung to God.  So singing is commanded, it’s about unity and it is a prayer.  


But here we have to address a second objection.  Not just my musical abilities, but we should ask what is the business about a new song?  Does that mean I have to make fresh stuff up all the time? Does that mean I can’t sing some of my favorite songs to God because they are older?  The language of a “new” song doesn’t mean a song that is not known or familiar to you, it indicates a song that is refreshed.  Kind of like refreshing a web page.  It is like when I engage in worship in song that I hit F5, the shortcut key for re-loading or refreshing a webpage, in my soul.  It’s a song that unique and powerful to express because it involves telling or declaring – look at the language of Psalm 96 – not just other people, but also my own heart, about the character and works of God. 


And this is where I find worship in song personally challenging.  Because verse 2 says that I am to do this each day.  And here we return again to the problem of religious consumerism and WIFM…  When I see Sunday mornings and worship in song as a fueling station for their week, I come, I plug in, I get energized, and then I leave on a high note.  As I begin to go into my week, I begin to tank.  So I attend a small group, they pick me up so I can make it through another week spiritually until I coast into Sunday morning on empty spiritually, get another fill up and then I am on my way.  This creates a very, very low level of expectancy in worship.  It creates a climate where I come to be entertained or fueled and if it doesn’t happen, then I can blame somebody else for my lack of spiritual growth.  Sunday mornings in worship in song may be the time that you hit F5, but it’s not the only time in the week you should be getting refreshed.  Some of our low level of expectancy on Sunday mornings is that some of you are coming with very, very stale relationships with God.  You haven’t hit F5 in 7 days, 7 months, 7 years or 7 decades…  If I am coming to give to God instead of to get from God, then I have to ask “Is my relationship with God fresh?”  I ask that not to guilt you into singing but simply to point out that some of us are coasting along and singing other people’ songs.  Today might be your morning to tell or to declare to your heart again the salvation and mercy and glory of our God.  Then you can sing “How Great is Our God” and mean it!  Some of us as singing other people’s songs… we sing the words on the screen but they haven’t refreshed your heart. 


Let’s keep reading in our text and we’ll see that one of the places where this refreshing happens is when we gather together corporately.

Psalm 96:8 – one slide


But perhaps today is the day where you begin, either for the first time, or simply a refr4esh to Give God the Glory He deserves

Recognize the Lord.  His Strength, His glory, his holy spleandour, his power, His rule over the nations of the earth.  His care for the world.  His position as judge over all.  One of the things that has radically shifted in my own personal worship life this summer was that I recognized how often I would rush into God’s presence tell Him what I wanted or needed (basically I would tell Him how to do his job), then I would rush away.  I was challenged as I searched the Bible on how people approached God that they did so by acknowledging aspects of His character that moved them to a position of worship.  They approached God in song or in prayer with praise leading the way.  I often approach with complaint leading the way – God, this is bothering me, can you do something about it?  But what verse 7-10 reminds me of is that

My perspective of God will influence my posture toward God

And so if I come to God with nothing but my needs and concerns on my heart, then really, I am seeing God as a giant vending machine – plug in my quarters and push the right worship buttons and out pops what’s in it for me.  We’re going to talk much more about this in our prayer series but I realized that part of what I was doing was failing to acknowledge who God is and what He has done.  That’s part of what is so great about Thanksgiving weekend – it’s not the football or the turkey or the time off, it’s an opportunity to refresh my perspective on who God is.  If this is a new exercise for you, try this exercise this week:  Take a letter of the alphabet, and see if you can think of an attribute of God’s character that starts with that letter and simply take time to praise and thank Him for that this week.  For example, let’s do the letter “T”.  God I thank you that you are _______.  


This is part of what verse 8 is after – give God the glory He deserves.  Come join with others in We must approach God with the attitude of giving instead of getting.  Not because God has an insecure or fragile ego and he’s waiting for us to tell Him how great He is.  It’s not for His benefit, it’s for mine.  To remind myself again of who God is and how He works. God doesn’t need this, but I do.  This prevents me from becoming a religious consumer.  So a question to ask yourself this morning is this.  When I come to a corporate gathering, what am I here for?  Am I here to receive, or am I here to give?


And as we finish out the Psalm, there is one more direction in which our worship in song flows.  It not only flows inward, to do an F5 on my heart, it not only flows upward to God in recognition, but it also flows out to a watching world.  Look with me at verses 10-13…  

When we gather for corporate worship in song, we can also serve the function of proclaiming that the Lord reigns (v 7-10) [read, no slides] 

This is where gain our ultimate perspective on worship in song…  We don’t worship God simply to remind ourselves, although I do have to believe it before I can declare it.  We engage in worship because it keeps things from getting “campy”.  What I mean by this is the Sunday mornings for some can become an exercise in sitting around a campfire and singing Kumbya My Lord.  It’s a warming and feels good experience but it misses the point.  And the point is that the God whom we exalt in worship is coming to judge the nations. He is coming to administer justice and to judge my actions and thoughts and heart.  And so the question to ask ourselves, as the band comes to lead us is this:

(?) Have we made worship in song about the style, personal favorite songs, tempo, skill of the band or anything else that obscures the ultimate aim of proclamation of the Lord’s reign?

That’s why I love the fact that there are massive windows in here and we can see out towards our city.  Sometimes when I worship, I stretch out my hands to the city and say “God, there are thousands upon thousands of people here in this neighbourhood that have yet to come to under the reign of you as King.  And so I sing with the saints and angels and the other Christians here in our city: “Let your kingdom come, let your will be done in Langley, in Clayton, my neighborhood, in my life, as it is in heaven.”

When I lose sight of this end, worship becomes all about personal preference and what’s in it for me.  So this morning, as we move into a time of worship in song, spend time inviting God to reshape and give your worship a more holistic perspective.  

Why in the world do churches SING on Sunday mornings? (Hint: It has something to do with hitting 'F5') And how does worship in song counter the tendency to see a corporate gathering as yet another religious product to be consumed? Join the people of JRCC as we finish off our core values teaching series with an emphasis on Holistic Worship.

Speaker: Brad Sumner

October 9, 2011
Psalms 96:1-13

Brad Sumner

Lead Pastor

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