Two Mistakes Being Made In Worship Today
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I was awed when I saw the headlines about Simone Biles performing on Dancing With the Stars (DWTS) to the music of “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin.
My first thought was, “Wow, amazing; performing to a Christian song at that level of competition and before that public audience.”
I was drawn to watch the video; which brought an experience I was definitely was not expecting.
Watching this very gifted and talented young lady dance to honor her daddy was truly wonderful.
She has made quality choices in her life and overcome adversities that send most spiraling downward not upward, as she has done.
Her testimony about her adoptive parents is a very special story that needs to be heard by the nation and that was an awesome venue in which to share it.
As Simone and her partner were gracefully moving around the dance floor to the words and music of “Good Good Father”, the thought filled my mind, “Would they ballroom dance to the music and words of ‘Majesty’ or ‘Holy, Holy, Holy?’”
Don’t stop reading, now.
The thought just as quickly came to my mind, “You are being critical here, Dean.”
Then the question filled my mind. “Why would they select a Christian song to perform on DWTS?” Then I realized. They were not dancing to a Christian song. They were dancing to a song in honor of her earthly father.
She was saying to her adoptive daddy, “You’re a good good father, that’s who you are, that’s who you are.”
That is when I had the unexpected experience.
Holy Spirit came upon my heart very strong and spoke to me, “I want Simone and others to honor their daddy. I want dads who are encouraging, faithful, affirming to their children and who are good role models to be honored for what they do.
“But, I also want Heavenly Father to be honored for His character and His nature and I want it clearly distinguished that Heavenly Father is high above any earthly father, no matter how good the quality of the man.”
This experience crystalized some things that have been percolating in my spirit for some time.
They relate to our concept of Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, and Holy Spirit. I intentionally state them in that order, for this reason.
Jesus Christ made it very clear that He came to earth to bring us to Father (John 14:1-11). Our perception of Jesus Christ will have a direct bearing upon our perception of Heavenly Father.
Our perception of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will affect our perception of Holy Spirit.
There has been a gradual decline in the identity of Jesus, Heavenly Father, and Holy Spirit in the church; perceiving them in human terms and espousing Holy Spirit as a force more than as a person.
These perceptions are being reflected in music, in the media, and in the manner in which they are referred in sermons, writings, and teachings.
The danger of this gradual decline is the proverbial frog in the kettle.
I have observed a growing influence of Gnosticism in the Church.
One of the great examples is the acceptance inside the church of the recent movies and television mini-series on the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ, produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett.
Roma Downey professes to be Roman Catholic, however, she has graduated from the University of Santa Monica with a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology.
The University of Santa Monica is a private, unaccredited university that only offers degrees in new age study. New Age belief is represented in the movies and television mini-series Downey and Burnett have produced.
Some may think of it as minor, I do not and neither did the Apostle Paul. He wrote the Book of Colossians to countermand such teaching.
This illusion of truth is rapidly catching traction, even inside the gospel-preaching church, creeping in subtly and gradually.
“Repeat a lie often enough and it will become the truth,” is often attributed to Joseph Goebbels, close friend of Adolph Hitler and Reich Minister of Propaganda.
That is what is happening with this misperception inside the church.
Sticking with the song mentioned at the beginning, you do not discover this song is talking about God until the very last stanza. Then, you only grasp it is talking about God, if you make the right inference.
“You are perfect in all of your ways.”
Is that human perfection or divine perfection? Nothing clarifies statement.
This is not just being picky.
There are worship songs that are so romantic and intimate they could be love songs on the top 50 charts. They are worship songs to God only if the worshipper intends it so and the words are spoken personally to Him.
There are two serious mistakes in worship today being made that are sending us down a slippery slope
1. The church is removing the sacredness of the worship experience.
When a song used on Sunday to worship the living God can be used on Monday night in a ballroom dance competition, something is missing.
What is missing is the holiness and fear of the Lord in worship.
Also being missed are worship songs that create a holy fear of the Lord in the heart of the worshipper by giving adoration, worship, and a holy awe of Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father and Holy Spirit.
Worship and praise music must accurately declare the nature and character of Almighty God and it must proclaim and give adoration to His name.
2. The second mistake being made is the humanizing of the worship experience.
Worship songs are being written using terms of intimacy in public worship that are not seen in any of the Holy Scriptures on the subject of public worship.
That level of intimacy between God and the worshipper reflected in the writing of the Song of Solomon is reserved for the privacy of one’s own heart and life not public worship.
The absence of properly identifying Almighty God in the words subtly changes the focus.
When the words of the song has greater emphasis on what the worshipper feels and is experiencing than it does on adoration, exaltation and worship of the Almighty that humanizes the worship experience.
When this is combined with the subtle changes in the worship center – low house lights, spotlights on the musicians and singers, and smoke and staging designed to bring the focus to the stage experience – this makes the worship entirely human centered not Divine-centered.
Heavenly Father longs for a personal intimate walk with each of His sons and daughters.
He greatly desires for us to know His personal love and acceptance.
He also expects us to have deep in our heart the reverence and holy awe that our Heavenly Father is the absolute sovereign, almighty God who created all things and who has authority of all that exists.
That is my Father.
His Spirit in me cries out, “Abba, Father.”
Read more posts about church leadership
One Thing Every Church Leader Must Know
3 Ways Spiritual Leaders Remain Nourished
What Is the Measure of Effective Ministry?
What Is a Win For You in Ministry?
3 Explosive Keys to Revival
Two Mistakes Being Made In Worship Today
Which Jesus Do You Worship?
Pastor Dean Sermon Archives Episode 30 – What Did God Design the Church to Look Like?
Thanks for this post Dr. Hackett – my first time on your blog (arrived from your daughter Rosilind’s blog!).
You make some reasonable points sir. I personally have always associated ‘Good, Good Father’ with Abba Father, so it’s strange for me to imagine it being used in a secular arena to honour an earthly Dad. Unless the lyrics are changed – I can’t imagine a human being lauded so much, unless the person using it in that context is being a bit too enthusiastic in showing their appreciation!
I’ve definitely heard some Christian music that is too gushy for my liking, and have heard songs and longed for the lyrics to just focus on God – without the need to also talk about ourselves in the words too.
The point you make about stage experiences in a lot of these performances is also a good point… I’ve always had some uneasiness about this when I’ve seen it, but haven’t been quite able to articulate why. It could be quite easy to attend one of these concerts, enjoy the show and have no serious commitment to Christ at all. Looking at the huge numbers that attend these events when you see these music videos accompanying the song has always made me slightly skeptical.
I wanted to ask about your point on losing the identity of Jesus, Heavenly Father and Holy Spirit – being humanised, and Holy Spirit as a force rather than a person. Doesn’t scripture often describe Abba Father and Jesus Christ with human illustrations i.e. as a parent, as a brother, etc.? And isn’t the Holy Spirit also described like a wind, which one could say is a force? Though of course He is a person. Or perhaps I have misunderstood your points, and you could give me some examples so I can have greater clarity please?
Thank you for reading my blog.
That is a great question. I hope my thoughts will bring some clarity.
When Scripture refers to God the Father in human terms, especially Father, it is making reference to His desire for personal and deep relationship with us. It is never with the perspective of diminishing His greatness; His majesty; or His awesome authority and power. He is our Heavenly Father longing for deep personal relationship. He is still sovereign, almighty, Creator, with absolute power and authority. Our relationship with Him must always carry that level of reverence and awe, even with a deep personal walk with Abba (daddy) Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ was very human, tempted in every aspect as we are tempted. He was also 100% God. Divinity in the flesh. “In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead, bodily.” (Col. 2:9). “Who being in the form of God” (exact form and image) “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. But He emptied Himself…” (Phil. 2:6-8) Jesus set aside His divine privileges and powers as God, limiting Himself to human privileges and powers. He did not give up or set aside His divinity or identity as God. When He rose from the dead, He assumed His position in the Trinity and His Name has been exalted above all other Names, in Heaven, in earth and even under the earth. When we focus more on Jesus humanity than His divinity we are losing sight of His true nature and character. Revelation 4-5, 19 reveal the level of honor, majesty, glory and reverence that He receives in Heaven now. It is expected of all disciples of Jesus Christ to give Him that same level of honor, majesty, glory and reverence in our life and worship.
Holy Spirit is referred to by several images; wind (breath), oil, dove, water. None of these are making reference to His nature, character or identity, but to His work in our lives. Example: Someone may be called a preacher, designer, mechanic, or a plumber. That is not their identity, character or nature. It is simply what they do.
In the case of Holy Spirit; when we speak more of Holy Spirit as a force or power than we do as a Divine person with a name, personality, character and nature, the proper reverence and awe of Him is lost. He is so elevated by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that they have established, a person may use their name as a curse word and be forgiven and reconciled. But, if they ever use Holy Spirit’s name as a curse word they can never be forgiven and will never be reconciled.
Well, I could keep going. But, hopefully this will give you the concept and give you some direction for personal study in the Holy Scriptures. If you would like more study material on Holy Spirit see my book “Father’s Promise.”
God bless you. Thank you again for reading my blog. I hope you will visit my site again and find more enjoyable reading.
I agree with you completly. I say it all the time, when I go to church at times, I feel like I am at a concert during worship time instead of in church. The music is so loud and they are up there dancing arond, like they are rockin out instead of dancing around while praising the Lord. I miss my country church I use to go to when I lived in MI, we sang songs from the hymnal, and really praised our Lord.
Thank you for your article.
Pastor Dean you are 100% on target! Amen to your article! Thank you for your insight!!
Thank you for your kind comment!
Dear sir, I keenly follow your writings and I am always blessed stopping by here.
Thank you so much for airing these issues out.
Blessings to you
Thank you so much for your encouragement to me today.
Spot on! And I say this from the wife of a recording Artist/worship leader.
I’ve watched him mentor and lead people on the platform for years.
His biggest issue is that they disappear on stage, and tone themselves down by listening to those around them so as to blend rather than be heard.
He also teaches them to keep their focus on the Lord rather than the audience.
And this comes from a multi Grammy and Dove Award winner who never displayed his awards.
Thank you for what you shared!
A fellow sojourner in Christ
Thank you, Nikki, for your encouragement here. Your husband is right: we need to keep our focus on the Lord than on the audience. He’s the one we came to sing to.
Well written and so true. Thank you for pointing this out. I’m scheduling this to be shared on my FB page.
Thank you for scheduling this!