On the surface, a concert isn’t that much different from Sunday morning worship.
Sure, there are some differences. But if you think about it, both involve music. Both have someone standing up front, usually with a guitar, and singing into a mic while the audience sings along from their seats. Sure, Sunday worship is often more subdued–but the Andrew Peterson concerts I’ve attended have been the same way.
On the surface, the two seem pretty similar.
But at its heart, Sunday morning worship is fundamentally different from a concert. And if we start to treat it that way, we’re making a huge mistake.
It’s Not About Us
Like so much else in our culture, concerts are about entertainment. That’s not a bad thing–entertainment is a gift of God. It can be uplifting, and it can point us to the God who gives all good things for us to enjoy.
Corporate worship, however, is not about entertainment.
Unfortunately, I think we often see it that way. It’s so easy to come into a service with a “concert” mindset. We think we’re here to enjoy the music, and the praise team or worship leader is here to perform for us. We might also come in with a critical mindset: pointing out all the mistakes and how we don’t like the music style.
But when we think this way, we make a fatal mistake: we think worship is about us.
It’s All About God
The paradox is that God does want us to enjoy worship. In fact, in worship we should be seeking the greatest joy of all: Himself.
That’s why when we worship in song, our singing should be focused on Him. We should be praising Him for who He is. We should be thanking Him for what He has done. We should even be crying out in faith for His help.
O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. (Psalm 95:1)
This is where we find true joy: when we’re focused on God. When we intentionally seek to delight in Him. When we meditate on truths about Him and respond in praise.
This is why the best hymns are the ones that contain rich truths about God and His redeeming work. They draw our minds to the truth and give us a vehicle to praise Him in response.
Worship is not about enjoying a performance. It’s about enjoying God.
Encourage One Another
In Colossians 3:16, Paul exhorts the church to teach one another with songs.
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Music can be a way not only to worship personally, but to encourage others as well. We are the body of Christ–there’s a reason we come together as a group every week. When we sing the praise and promises of God, we encourage our fellow believers with truth. We also witness to unbelievers around us.
Be Discerning, But Focus Upward
Of course, the songs we’re singing need to be rooted firmly in God’s word. In saying we shouldn’t focus on ourselves, I’m not saying we shouldn’t exercise discernment. At some point, you’ll likely run across a song that has some bad theology in it, and we need to be biblically informed enough to recognize that. But don’t let discernment turn into a cynical, critical spirit.
Likewise, I don’t want to imply that we shouldn’t be concerned with excellence in our music. If you have a part in the music ministry at your church, then do all that you can to create beautiful music for God’s glory! I’ve played violin at my own church for the past couple of years, and it’s been a great experience.
But even if you don’t have an influence on your church’s music, you’re still responsible for your own spirit when you come to worship. As teenagers (which I think is most of us here), we may not be able to contribute much to what kind of music is played in our church, or how well. But we can come in with the right attitude.
No matter where you are–in the front or in the pews–keep your focus on God. Worship Him with all you have and proclaim His glory to everyone around you. This is why we sing.