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Is Your Worship Awful? It Should Be!

Is Your Worship Awful? It Should Be!

My friend and counterpart from the Kansas-Nebraska Convention, David Manner, helps us evaluate a very important aspect of our corporate worship services. Read on:

awful [awfuh’l]–
1. solemnly impressive; inspiring awe. 2. full of awe; reverential.

Awe and wonder is the act of worship in response to the mystery of God. It causes us to respond with, “Woe is me…I am ruined” (Isaiah 6:5); It causes us to take off our sandals and hide our faces (Exodus 3:5-6); and It causes us to leap and dance before the Lord with all our might (2 Samuel 6:14-16).

Awe is evidenced in scriptural words such as “O Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth” as a spontaneous response to the wonder of how God could be mindful of us…or care for us (Psalm 8).

Our need to control, predict and therefore script, however, has transformed the awe of mystery into a scheduled event that is explainable and rational. And yet, we continue to lament the fact that our worship seems lifeless. A. W. Tozer wrote, “We cover our deep ignorance with words, but we are ashamed to wonder, we are afraid to whisper ‘mystery.’” (1)

Mystery is not just our limited capacity to fully understand and explain the entirety of God’s story; it is also the incomprehensible awe and wonder that He included me in that story. Can that ever be scripted? If the awe and wonder of God can be completely contained in and explained through our limited understanding, then he is a god who does not deserve our worship.

Michael Yaconelli wrote, “The critical issue today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment.” (2) He continues by stating, “The greatest enemy of Christianity may be people who say they believe in Jesus but who are no longer astonished and amazed. Jesus Christ came to rescue us from listlessness as well as lostness; He came to save us from flat souls as well as corrupted souls.” (3) “Take surprise out of faith and all that is left is dry and dead religion. Take away mystery from the gospel and all that is left is frozen and petrified dogma. Lose your awe of God and you are left with an impotent deity. Abandon astonishment and you are left with meaningless piety.” (4)

The proclamation of the mystery of our faith is this…Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again (I Tim 3:16; Rom 16:25-26; Eph 3:4-6). If that doesn’t continually inspire awe and wonder then no songs we select ever will.

1. A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: HarperCollins, 1961), 18.
2. Michael Yaconelli, Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1998), 23.
3. Ibid., 24.
4. Ibid., 28.

Check out David’s blog for more great articles.

About The Author

David Manner

Dr. David W. Manner serves as the Associate Executive Director for Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists with responsibilities in the areas of Worship, Leadership and Administration. Before joining the convention staff in 2000, David served for twenty years in music/worship ministry with congregations in Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Oklahoma Baptist University; a Master of Church Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Worship Studies from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies.

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