Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

What I Learned About Starting A New Worship Service (Part 5)–Healthy DNA Gives Birth To A Healthy Service

          I have been involved in three separate instances of launching or re-launching a new worship service in an established church.

In some cases it was a re-launch because the first service failed (or was failing). At other times, it was a new launch of a new worship offering.

In both situations I learned of the importance of having healthy DNA at the outset of the launch.

In the two re-launch situations I observed that the previous service had declined because of unhealthy, toxic, DNA. The prevailing attitudes were misguided at best, and negative, divisive, and terminally pathological at worst.

Over the years I have come up with the following list of healthy DNA necessary to launch a healthy worship service. These are listed below, along with the Scripture passages that guided me to name these particular characteristics.

I cannot stress enough that these are non-negotiables for me. I will work with all my strength and energy to keep out of leadership (praise band, worship leader, hospitality, media, etc.) any person who does not buy into, and does not exhibit these qualities.

Traits Of Healthy Worship Service “DNA”:

1) Missional

Matthew 28:18-20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

2) Audience of One

Worship is not a performance but a service in honor of the God who alone is worthy to be praised.

Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:17

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Galatians 1:10

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3) “It’s not about me!”

Mark 10:45

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Philippians 2:3-8

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

4) Not what I want, what God wants

Matthew 26:39

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

5) “When I don’t get my way, I will not take my toys and go home, I will follow Jesus”

John 21:18-22

18Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

6) Simple is better

John 4:23-24

23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Jesus said worship that the “Father seeks” focuses on “spirit and truth.”

At the risk of oversimplifying Jesus’ words, I see “spirit and truth” in terms of music (spirit) and message (truth).

7) Poor praying means poor playing

Mark 9:14-29

14When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.

17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.

8) To reach people far from God you have to be close to God.

Acts 4:13

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

9) You can’t give people something you don’t have yourself. You can’t take anyone to a place you have never been yourself.

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Mark 3:13-15

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelvethat they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons.

Called to 1) come to Jesus and 2) be with him 3) before ministering in His name.

10) No one is a leader who is not a follower

Matthew 4:18-22

8 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

1) followers of Jesus first, before becoming

2) leaders of others.

11) This is war!

Contemporary worship (like all types of worship!) is spiritual warfare. The enemy works especially hard to distract, divide, and defeat worshipers. Come prepared for battle.

Ephesians 6:10-18

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

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One Response to “What I Learned About Starting A New Worship Service (Part 5)–Healthy DNA Gives Birth To A Healthy Service”

  1. You’ve the makings of a great how-to book here, brother.

    We need to touch base. I’m working as a criminal magistrate here in Guilford County, immersed 10 hrs a day every other week in the flotsam and jetsam of a world rushing head long towards the void.

    Been trying to finagle a place as an alternate to Annual Conference. Why, I don’t know. Stuff like that drains every ounce of life from the very core of my being.

    I’m working this week third shift (09 pm to 07 am) until Thursday or Friday, and then will finish the week second shift (03 pm to 1 am). Sure would like to catch up. Reading your blog, I am overwhelmed with the depth of your writing; great wisdom, deep theologically, yet us “fish and taters” simple folk (as my father-in-law, RIP) would say feel right at home.

    Jim Lung


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