One of my favorite writers is one A.W. Tozer. He lived and ministered in the mid 20th century. One of my favorites of his writings is a small book entitled, "Worship: The Missing Jewel of the Evangelical Church". Probably most people look at worship as a a noun, referring to the service on Sunday morning, usually at 11:00.. Worship in reality is a verb, an action, the active response of the heart to God's presence and working in the life of the individual. Bruce Leafblad, once a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary used the picture of a wheel with spokes coming out of a center hub to describe worship. In his example, worship is the hub, the central support from which all service and ministry flow. In essence, without the personal, worship relationship, we have nothing to share. Without knowing Christ in His fullness, we can't really share who He is with a lost world. That is why worship, the worship described in Deuteronomy and again by Jesus Himself, known as the Great Commandment, that is, "with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength" is foundational to all we are as believers.
Getting back to Tozer, there are many quotes taken from his works and sermons that bear repeating. Here a just a few with some comments from me.
1."The church that can't worship must be entertained. The man who can't lead the church to worship must provide the entertainment".
Ouch! That hits right where we as worship leaders live. It's not our/my call to entertain you with even Christian songs that you like. It's the call of every worship leader to provide, through Spirit-led study, to brings songs that first are scripturally sound, regardless of how popular they are, and that they honor God. In my experience, there are two types of Christian music used in our services of worship One is the vertical song that is directed to God, for example "Holy, Holy, Holy". There are also many more contemporary songs that fit this mold, which we do incorporate in our services at Glen Hope. The second is the horizontal. These are hymns and songs about God that are addressed to others or each other. There are many examples of these also that I'm sure you could name, both older and newer examples. But about the entertainment aspect, Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle is quoted as having said;, "Jesus didn't die on the cross so that we could be entertained". Think about that one for awhile.
2. "I can safely say that a man or woman who is bored, or turned off by worship is not ready for heaven". Wow! That's strong! The way I read about heaven, it's ALL ABOUT WORSHIP!
Read it for yourself. Read Isaiah 6, read Revelation 4. That's just two of many, many descriptions of heaven given to us in scripture. After all, worship is ultimately not about US! True worship is our heart's response to who Jesus is and how he's working in our lives, and the lives of others around us. We are a consumer-driven generation.. Everything around us screams, "me, me, me". Worship is essentially, for God and initiated by God. Read Romans 12:1-2 where Paul describes true worship as total sacrifice; "Therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, I implore you to give your bodies as living sacrifices, wholly (heart, mind, soul, and strength) acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service (act of worship in the NIV).
3. This last one I'm using is appropriate for any time, but seems especially true in today's Christian world. "Worship is no longer worship when it reflects more of the culture around us, than it does the Christ within us". Now it's true that we need to present the Gospel in a way that shows how it's relevant to today's world and culture, but, it also has to not conform so much to today's culture that there's no distinction. This is true in the music as well as the preaching or any presentation of the Gospel.
I hope these words will help you to perhaps see worship for what it really is - our response to God for who He is, not a matter of our personal preferences.