The CCM School of Leadership was created by Christ Church Manchester to train and equip those with a leadership gift to lead well wherever they are. We we were recently joined by Simon Brading from Emmanuel Church in Brighton and Newday, who taught on what it is to worship in truth.
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Worship in Truth
- The Greek word for truth is alítheia and can be translated in two ways: one subjective and one objective.
- The objective truth means facts and reality – worshiping with objective truth and facts, that which is solid.
- The subjective truth means truthfulness, our worship should be genuine.
- Both of these meanings are contained when Jesus says worship in truth.
- Worship leaders should ask the question, 'what should we be singing? What songs should we choose?'
- Sometimes our choice of songs is based on who wrote them, what church they came from, how they sound, or if we personally like them.
- Colossians 3:16 says 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly' which means letting the message and gospel of Christ dwell among our church as a community richly as we sing and gather together.
- The word of Christ must be in our songs, we must sing the gospel.
Singing the Gospel Teaches Us
- Songs get inside of us in a way that is different to a preach.
- We can reel off lyrics to a song not because we sat down to memorise them but because we have sung the song many times.
- Singing means lyrics get inside of us. Paul is concerned with what we are therefore singing.
- We learn our theology from what we sing. Our songs teach the congregation what God is like, the time and effort we put into the sermons to teach our congregation the nature of God and what He has done should be the same attention we pay to the songs we sing.
- If someone came into your church for 6 months and wrote a book on everything they could about God just based on your song lyrics, what would it look like?
- There are revelation songs and response songs.
- There are many revelation songs that have no lyrics to respond to God and vice versa. This doesn't make these bad songs, but it means we have to choose our songs wisely.
- We have to pay attention to the lyrics in our songs, which can sometimes be open to interpretation or have loaded words.
- People tend to pray song lyrics and so we have a responsibility to choose our songs well.
Singing the Gospel Engages the Heart
- Our hearts are forgetful and we don't always have at the forefront of our hearts what God has done for us.
- When you're not thinking about God you can easily drift into believing lies or thinking about unhealthy things.
- Singing a response song when our hearts are far away can be quite cold and dutiful, and in many ways like dead works.
- The Holy Spirit comes to open the eyes of our hearts, which is ongoing.
- A revelation of the heart brings a heartfelt response rather than a dutiful one.
- If you buy roses for your wife out of duty, that doesn’t honour her at all. Her worth hadn't inspired you to do those things.
- How often does our worship look like dutiful roses? Is God's glory captivating us so that we worship from our hearts?
- Loving God with all our hearts is more important than singing.
- When the worship session feels a little dry, we tend to turn the music up or tell people to worship, but how much of the gospel have we given them? How much of Christ have we shown them?
- God has given us reasons to love and worship Him. We need to show these reasons from the gospel rather than telling people to worship, which can slip into law.
Singing the Gospel Dispels Lies
- There is a deceiver who is lying to us day and night to attempt to derail us and rob our enjoyment of Jesus. Lies do not come from our Father in heaven but from the enemy.
- We have to realise that when we come to worship, everyone in that room has been lied to today and night by the enemy. In one sense it's good to say that and in one sense you don't want to give credit to that because the opposite of those lies is the truth. And Jesus tells us to worship in that truth.
- Just a few words of truth have the power to demolish lies and bring freedom.
- The Spirit owns truth and breaks lies and chains, this isn't a battle we have to try and fight.
- The songs that declare spiritual truth about the gospel cause the enemy to shudder and chains fall to the ground.
- Simply singing response songs that are shallow in the gospel truth don’t help the congregation stand in the truth that breaks these chains.
- Truth lights fire in you in a way that melody doesn’t. We believe in good melody, and there is beauty in it, but it needs to be coupled with truth to make it powerful.
- When choosing songs, instead of those which light powerful fires but burn out quickly and end with nothing, choose those that are more like logs on the fire that glow and burn for longer.
When discussing song lyrics and cliché, is there a place for song lyrics to have more provocative lyrics in order to make the congregation think and search for the truth behind it?
- If you're preaching and you're trying to put across provocative wording of what could be cliché, then you have the space and time later to clarify. You do not have that opportunity to clarify with songs. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't find fresh ways of explaining truth, but we also must hold in line what God has made us responsible for, which is shepherding hearts and bringing them to maturity.
- I wouldn't make the need to have something sound fresh trump the need for clarity – it isn't worth it.
There are times in worship when we are given so much truth and revelation that you want to explode in praise and love for God, and revelation songs can be overkilled.
- The natural response to revelation is worship. That is why song after song of revelation is too much.
- One of the skills of leading worship is knowing when to lean into response and you can see when it's time when looking out into the congregation, or when more truth is needed.
Worship has changed over time, are there cultural things we should leave behind?
- Every generation has cultural things you leave behind in new worship movements. But the key DNA and value of things you must certainly take with you. There was an expression of worship and style that came out of the 70s that was full of truth and yet was housed in a cultural expression of the 70s. This era and culture now has a different expression of worship and yet still should house that same truth.
Worship today has become quite professional, is that something you would challenge if you were to start again?
- When you read scripture, there are a couple of clear contexts even in 1 Corinthians 14, you get the phrase 'when the whole church comes together', and then 'when you come together'. These are different contexts. There was a meeting together in homes and also in temple courts, in little groups and then also in large gatherings.
- Understanding those two contexts means you can see appropriate different levels of excellence required at each one. You probably wouldn't allow a young and inexperienced worship leader to lead the large whole gathering of people, but rather someone who has a measure of gifting and is able to help and lead people into worship.
- In bigger gatherings there isn't the space for every single person to bring a psalm or interpretation, but the principle of being a body and a team knowing God can speak to all of us still applies to a bigger context. Not every context in the Bible is exactly the same.