One of the most important aspects, I believe, of any worship gathering is whether or not the focus is on Christ. Is the work of Christ proclaimed through singing and speaking? Are people’s eyes and hearts drawn to the good news of the Gospel? The writings of guys like Bob Kauflin in Worship Matters (Amazon link – one of the best books I’ve read) have been huge in clarifying these thoughts for me on my journey as a worship pastor.
Recently, I ran across a very concise and clear answer to the question of “what does it mean to have a gospel-fueled worship service?” This appeared here on worship.com and is an excerpt from Don’t Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day. In this book, pastor Tullian Tchividjian (one of Billy Graham’s grandsons) answers the above question by saying:
A gospel-fueled worship service is a service where God serves the gospel to sinners in need of rescue—which includes, of course, both Christians and non-Christians. It’s a service where “the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:6) comes through prayer and preaching, sacrament and singing. As it does, we’re given the faith, hope, and love we need to be good news people in a bad news world.
The result of a gospel-fueled worship service is the exposure of both the idols of our culture and the idols of our hearts. The faithful exposition of our true Savior in every element of worship will painfully, yet liberatingly, reveal all the pseudo-saviors we trust in culturally and personally. It will disclose the subtle ways in which we as individuals and as a culture depend on lesser things than Jesus to provide the security, acceptance, identity, protection, affection, meaning, and satisfaction that all of us long for but that only Christ can supply. The praising, praying, and preaching in such a service should constantly show just how relevant and necessary Jesus is.
A gospel-fueled worship service will continually remind us that while we’re all great sinners, Christ is an all-in-all great Savior.
I am convinced that services powered by the Gospel will be gatherings where believers are encouraged and continually challenged and people are drawn to (and given the opportunity for) a life-changing relationship with the God who loves them.
What about the services you prepare, lead, or participate in? Are they gospel fueled and centered? Or is it, dare I say, simply a collection of favorite songs, topics, and Bible verses? I say that as much to myself as to anyone reading this.
If you find yourself participating in services that are gospel-fueled, encourage the ones in your church who are responsible for this. Let them know you appreciate their faithful service and obedience to God. If you find yourself in a service that isn’t so much, pray. Then gently and lovingly seek to engage the appropriate people in conversation about this. It’s incredibly helpful if you also build a relationship with them and remember that they are also seeking to honor God.
And remember, the content and style of a service isn’t always the determining factor of whether or not it is gospel-centered.