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The Art of Exhortation

Some churches encounter the problem of their worship style being offensive to visitors. Some people will always be ‘offended” by the genuine move of the Spirit, and that is similar to the offense” our worship incurs, we can rejoice, for Jesus told us we would share his reproach. Genuine forms of praise and worship will not be repulsive to those whose hearts are pure before God. On the other had, we can boisterous and insensitive to culturally unacceptable forms of expression dance is an acceptable for of expression in our culture, but if it is executed by an obese person with no artistic from. Then perhaps visitors have grounds to be “offended.” Let us guard the impression we give visitors so that we might never be accused (legitimately) of behaving indecently or improperly. If they stumble, may it be at the offense of the cross and not because of carnal manifestations of emotionalism.

In many fellowships where standing is common, people complain of getting tired, and they consequently do not enjoy the length of the worship service. Many elderly folks simply do not have the endurance of their youth. What should a worship leader do when the people complain of getting tired, and they consequently do not enjoy the length of the worship service? Many elderly folks simply do not have the endurance of their youth. What should a worship leader do when the people tend to get tired while standing for protracted periods of time?

The solution that has worked best for me is one I adopted while I was director of music and worship leader at Elim bible Institute. I decided that I was tired of “orchestrating” the worship- telling people when to stand, when to sit, when to lift their hands, and so on. So I determined that I would o longer tell people when to stand or sit.

“Some saints have been conditioned for so long to follow every move of the worship leader that they will be totally uncomfortable at first with being free to use their own initiative. But stick with it, and you will see your people become responsive to the Holy Spirit rather than to the cues of the worship leader.”

Instead, one Sunday morning I told the congregation that I was going to change permanently my approach to worship. I explained that I was no longer going to tell them when to stand or when to sit. Furthermore, I emphasized the importance of standing in worship and explained that nowhere in the Bible is sitting given as a proper posture in worship. I exhorted them to stand before the Lord, but to do so on their own initiative. It old them to stand when they wanted, worship a while, and if they got tire (as some older folks will) they could sit for a brief reprieve.

When we began to follow this plan, we found there were some who stood almost immediately when the service began, and many would follow. Some would wait until they felt moved upon by the Spirit, and then they would stand. There were others who would sit and pout throughout the entire service and do nothing. But, generally speaking, I found the new approach worked quite well.

Let me offer a word of caution to any who contemplate using this approach; you will have to be patient with your people, because some saints have been conditioned for so long to follow every move of the worship leader that they will be totally uncomfortable at first with being free to use their own initiative. But stick with it, and you will be able to condition them positively in the opposite way so they will become responsive to the Holy Spirit rather than to the cues of the worship leader. It may take some time before the people begin to stand of their own initiative in praise unto the Lord, but they will soon realize that if they do not take any initiative, the entire worship service will pass them by and they will have missed out! You may find it necessary to reiterate your intentions and desires several times, because sometimes our “sheep” pretend not to understand. It will take them a while to comprehend the fact that you are serious about not “orchestrating” their praise. Be ready for some “rocky” worship service, about remember that things are always turbulent when we are jarred out of our ruts and that they will improve!

PR

Excerpted from Worship Update, 1st Quarter 1996. Copyright 1997 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing. Used by permission.

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Category: Fall 2000, Ministry

About the Author: Bob Sorge served as a pastor for thirteen years, as well as a music director at Elim Bible Institute, NY. Now he bases his writing and traveling ministry in Kansas City, Missouri, where he lives with his wife, Marci, and three children. Author of the widely acclaimed, Exploring Worship, Bob has written numerous books that have been deeply influenced by his journey through a sustained personal crisis. Among his most noted works are the titles, The Fire Of Delayed Answers, Pain, Perplexity and Promotion, and Secrets Of The Secret Place.

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