“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6, NKJV).
Over the years I have sought to teach people both why we worship and how to worship. Worship has often been misunderstood as the musical prelude to the sermon, rather than the means by which we, as the people of God, invite the dominion of His kingdom to be established on earth.
Psalm 22:3 says that the King of kings is literally “enthroned” in our praises. Wherever God’s people come together to worship, and where that happens, all the weight of His glory, His rulership, and His dominion are present.
Life in the Spirit is anything but dull. Learn how obedience to the voice of God is your passport to a vibrant Christian experience.
One of the most exciting aspects of the Spirit-filled life is the fact that we can have adventures in God that reveal to those around us His supernatural nature. In the coming days, I believe many of you are going to begin to flow in signs and great and mighty wonders.
Some of you will be stirred to do even greater things than others have accomplished in the past through the name of Jesus. Often God works this way—doing greater things as each new generation comes along.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, I pored over books written about the great men and women of faith. As I read, I prayed, "Lord, I want to do these things and greater." Often I would get down on my knees and weep, crying out to the Lord for revival and the harvest among the nations.
The end-time role of the praying and worshipping church
Right now, all across the earth, the Holy Spirit is raising up a worship-based prayer movement that will culminate in the second coming of our King, Jesus. This isn’t a new idea, but one rooted in history and, more importantly, in the Bible. This prayer and worship movement that we see exploding across the planet was prophesied many years ago, as recorded in the Scriptures. I believe that what we’re witnessing today, with the rapidly growing worldwide prayer and worship movement, is the beginning of the fulfillment of biblical prophecies about the end times.
This conviction that God is raising up a worldwide prayer movement that will precede Jesus’ return has strengthened my resolve to build a 24/7 worship community. We started on May 7, 1999, and for the last 12 years the International House of Prayer Missions Base of Kansas City (IHOP-KC), consisting of full-time missionaries who serve as worship leaders, singers, musicians and intercessors, has continued nonstop in worship and prayer. Our hearts are set on gathering corporately to worship Jesus 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Partnering with Him in intercession, we contend for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for the release of justice, both in our own city and in the cities of the earth. What started with 20 full-time missionaries has grown to more than 1,000 full-time staff and 1,000 students and interns in our Bible school.
Editor’s Note: Daily during January and February, MinistryTodaymag.com will feature an article from pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren and his staff in conjunction with his new book, What on Earth Am I Here For? Warren is the guest editor for Charisma’s Ministry Today magazine for its January/February issue.
A worshiping church won’t just happen. It starts with a leader who places a high value on personal worship.
I remember only two things about my college biology class: the broken clock that hung on the wall behind my professor’s desk and this definition of culture: “A colony of microorganisms or cells grown in a specially prepared nourishing environment.” Sounds like the church, doesn’t it? Each congregation is a colony—an outpost of the kingdom (to mix metaphors)—that is grown in a specially prepared, nourishing environment.
Here’s another definition of culture; this one from my sociology class (which, by the way, also had a broken clock hanging behind the professor’s desk): “The values, beliefs, ideas, customs, skills, arts and traditions of a people that are passed along to succeeding generations.”
That sounds like the church, too.
As a pastor, you set the tone for true corporate worship.
Every pastor wants to raise up a group of people who God considers true worshipers. Jesus defined these people in John 4:23 as those who "worship the Father in spirit and truth." He even added that these are the ones after whom the Father seeks.
We have the chance to cultivate these kinds of worshipers every Sunday in our services by how we lead. Whether you are a senior pastor or a worship leader, you serve as a model for true worship. You play a key role in creating an environment that is conducive to the moving of God's Spirit. To excel at both of these requires some understanding of what I believe are fundamental principles of congregational worship.
• "Worship time" is not a setup for the sermon. If we're not careful we can develop a dangerous mind-set that believes the praise and worship part of a service functions merely to prepare the congregation for the preaching. Though preparing people for the message can certainly be one benefit of a good "worship time" (and I use that term begrudgingly), it must not be its primary purpose.
As worship leaders, writing and arranging songs for congregational singing is something most of us hold, or would like to hold, as a value. (By writing I mean creating an original song. By arranging I mean taking an already existing song, typically a hymn, and altering it instrumentally and on the very rare occasion, adjusting the melody).
Even if we don’t have the most talented musicians or the most expressive group of people to lead, music matters because it’s part of our calling, to proclaim the gospel through music. So we do the best we can with the people and resources God has given us.
At the same time, music can’t be the primary focus.
What always takes precedent over the music is the gospel. We aren’t going to make the gospel sound any better than it already is, so our goal in writing music or arranging songs must be approached with humility and with a desire to call attention to the creator—not the created. Arranging and writing music can be fun, but it’s not essential.