serving the nazarene

What Are You Proclaiming?

I’m reading Bob Kauflin’s new (and utterly terrific) book about corporate worship, “Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God.” Kauflin is the author of a popular blog of the same name (http://www.worshipmatters.com/), dealing with a broad range of issues related to the corporate worship of the church.

In the book, Kauflin is unpacking, phrase by phrase, his definition of what a worship leader does. Perhaps at some point in the future we’ll go through this material together, but I want to focus your attention on a particular portion of it today.

One of the worship leader’s tasks is to “motivat[e] the gathered church to proclaim the gospel.” He defines proclamation as “declaring what’s true about God.” He suggests that one reason it’s necessary to proclaim truths about God and the gospel that we probably know already is that we tend to forget. We get wrapped up in the worries, fears, desires and busyness of life, and we need weekly reminders of God’s goodness, specifically of his mercy and love displayed in the cross of Christ.

He cites 1 Peter 2:9, where the apostle says that we have been saved “that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light.” One purpose, and result, of our redemption is that we now proclaim God’s excellencies. Kauflin says that “we’re meant to fulfill this command both in our meetings and in our lives.” Then he writes these insightful words:

People come into our churches proclaiming all sorts of things with their words and actions. Through close-fisted giving, some are asserting how much their own personal wealth matters. Others, by their complaining, are declaring that personal comfort matters. Teens in the latest fashions may be proclaiming that being cool matters. Others confirm through their smiles or frowns that their musical preferences matter. But we want each of them to leave proclaiming this: The gospel of Jesus Christ matters.

I was struck and convicted by these words. Can you relate to this? Have you ever entered a corporate worship meeting proclaiming with your words and actions something other than the gospel of Jesus Christ? Kauflin’s given us a few examples here, but what are some other things we might proclaim? What might people be distracted by as they enter to encounter the living God with a community of believers? How can we get our gaze fixed once again upon the crucified Messiah and the fountainhead of blessing we find there?

Grace.

April 16, 2008 Posted by | biblical reflection, corporate worship, theological pondering | Leave a comment

whose image?

here’s why we need a savior:

we take the mirror of god’s image, which was intended to reflect his glory in the world, and turn our backs to the light, and fall in love with the contours of our own dark shadow, trying desperately to convince ourselves (with technological advances or management skills or athletic prowess or academic achievements or sexual exploits or counterculture hair styles) that the dark shadow of the image on the ground in front of us is really glorious and satisfying.  and in our proud love affair with ourselves, we pour contempt (whether we know it or not!) on the worth of god’s glory.”

– john piper, the supremacy of god in preaching, p. 32

what are you treasuring today – the reflection of god’s infinite worth, or your own dark shadow cast on the ground by his glory?

grace.

January 10, 2008 Posted by | biblical reflection | Leave a comment

what is the power of god to save?

last semester in school, I heard dr. jim hamilton lecture through 1 corinthians, and then he preached in chapel about 1 corinthians 1:18-31.  he summoned preachers – and, by extension, seminarians – to expound the gospel of christ, even though to the world it is “folly” and “a stumbling block.” according to worldly standards, a messiah, a promised ruler, who is executed as a common criminal looks weak and foolish. unregenerate people are able to cognitively grasp the gospel story enough to think that it is foolish. a fairy tale. a crutch for the weak. but they will not, of their own volition, believe and embrace this message of a crucified christ.

and yet, it is this very message, foolish and weak in the world’s eyes, that god uses to save sinners. “since, in the wisdom of god the world did not know him through wisdom, it pleased god by the foolishness of what is preached to save those who believe” (1 cor. 18:21; emphasis added). so the call for the christian preacher – and youth pastor, and children’s minister, and education director, and sunday school teacher, and worship pastor – is to proclaim the gospel message of this murdered messiah – “a stumbling block to jews, and folly to gentiles, but to those who are the called, both jews and greeks, christ the power of god and the wisdom of god” (1 cor. 18:23-24).

here’s the application for us as pastors, teachers, leaders in corporate worship, or christian laypersons: our calling is the very same. our goal in every element of the church’s worship gatherings is to proclaim this crucified christ. in our sermons, songs, scriptures, prayers, congregational readings, and personal reflections, we must expound the gospel of a messiah who was executed at the hands of wicked men (though, ultimately, at the hands of a wrathful god), and who was raised by the spirit’s power. though the world sees this message as foolish and weak, it is the power of god to save those who believe.

as a leader of corporate worship myself, reflecting on these verses has caused me to be committed all the more to christ-exalting, gospel-saturated, god-centered songs and liturgy in congregational worship. may we, as members of the body of christ, celebrate and marvel at the glories of this gospel, and its power to save damned sinners like us, and may its power cause us to live life for the glory of our great god.

grace.

January 8, 2008 Posted by | biblical reflection, corporate worship | | 1 Comment