Personal Ministry Thoughts about Biblical Worship

I’ve been studying at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for the past 4 years. Lord willing, I will graduate this May with a Master of Arts in Worship Leadership and a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling. It’s been such a blessing and such a sanctifying experience. I’d like to share my testimony on what I believe about God, my guiding theological commitments, my call to Christian ministry, and specifically my convictions relating to worship ministry.

The Lord graciously saved me when I was twelve years old. My heart was changed the moment the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and heart to hear and believe the Gospel. I believe the Gospel is the good news that through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, sinful man can be reconciled to God. This saving grace is masterfully articulated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. My understanding of the Gospel is that man is saved by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. I believe that because of sin, man can never meet God’s standard of perfection and is spiritually dead apart from Christ (Ephesians 4:18). I believe that God must take the initiative in salvation in order for someone to enter into a relationship with Him. This is accomplished through the saving faith that God gives. I believe in God’s sovereign choice (Romans 9) in salvation but recognize God’s desired will that all come to salvation (John 3:16).

The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness and obedience to the Father. Stunningly, He did not do this for Himself but for His people. Christ has done for me what I could not possibly do for myself. He lived a life of perfect obedience, offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice to satisfy the just wrath of God. What amazing, underserving grace! Ever since receiving this precious gift of salvation, God has stirred within me a strong desire and calling to serve Him in ministry and steward the gifts He has blessed me with.

I desire to humbly lead people in worship through song that is both theologically sound and musically excellent, desiring to display worship as a lifestyle of praising God for who He is and what He has accomplished. Worship is ascribing to God the glory He deserves. Psalm 29:2 states, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” I believe that everyone is a worshiper. We can either choose to worship the true God of the universe or something He created. Harold Best says, “We are created worshiping. We naturally gravitate towards what we value and we ascribe worth to those things, whether it is God or something else.” I desire for people to see that all of life is worship as stated in Romans 12:1-2: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Worship is all of our life. Worship is the rhythm of God’s revelation and our response to it.

God redeemed us to worship Him privately, but also corporately. We are called to gather together as the body of Christ, encouraging one another and edifying one another in the faith. Emerging from the New Testament are six truths about corporate worship. They are: reading of the Word, preaching the Word, praying the Word, singing the Word, regularly observing the ordinances, and regularly giving to the work of the Lord. I am passionate about pointing others to Christ through singing the Word. Colossians 3:16-17 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Believers should pursue excellence in worship, and sing songs that present sound doctrine, and encourage appropriate emotion for the glory of God. The primary objective of those who lead worship must be to point congregants to worship God. Ministry leaders are putting words into the congregation’s mouth and shaping their view of God. This a weighty responsibility, and our liturgy should be based on the Gospel in response to God’s revelation. Scripture is authoritative. The Word of God alone provides the transformative power for Christlikeness in the lives of God’s people. The Bible as a whole moves in a large cycle revealing God first as transcendent and then as immanent. This rhythm—the rhythm of transcendence and then immanence—is the context through which Scripture reveals God and the way people in the Bible meet with God in personal or corporate worship settings. Worship services should be designed to re-tell the story of the Gospel.

Lastly, the greatest need of worship leaders is personal holiness. We can only minister out of the overflow of our own lives. Worship is a matter of the heart. We cannot deceive ourselves by hiding sin, or being like the Pharisees in the Bible. John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me…Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” We can do nothing apart from Christ. He is the One who regenerates, convicts, encourages, and changes hearts. Our intellect, abilities, gifts, and experiences, though helpful, do not produce fruit. Only He can. Nothing is more essential to our effectiveness in ministry than personal holiness. We need to depend on the Lord, live in His grace, passionately pursue His truth, and labor for His glory. God calls us to be faithful in everything we do, relying on His grace and strength. We must serve as servant-leaders, emulating Christ’s love for His children in our approach, methodology, and convictions related to worship, striving with all our might to point people back to our gracious, loving, and worthy God.