Worship God 09 underscored why my experience at the other church seemed problematic to me.
Sovereign Grace ministries is so intentional about the content of the songs that they lead us with. They understand that if we are going to sing "in Spirit" we must first sing "in Truth". The majority of their songs do not focus on my response to God, but rather what God has done for me. This Sunday, if you attend church, try and observe what the majority of your singing consists of. Is it a declaration of what God has done, or is it mainly the congregation telling God how they feel about Him?
I would contend, and I think Bob Kauflin and the music ministry that he leads throughout all the Sovereign Grace churches would agree (because that is what I observed with crystal clarity while at the conference) when I say that our singing should primarily be weighted toward what God has done. If this is the case, with the glory of the Gospel as the centerpiece, we won't have to try and conjure up false emotions when we are called to response with joyful and glad hearts to Him.
If a majority of the songs that we sing are more weighted towards how I feel about God or my response to God, it may tend to produce false affections that have no enduring value. Think about it like this. When I tell my wife I love her, I have a backdrop of 11 years of experience of living life with her that colors my deep affection for her. Pondering all the ways that she has loved me, served me, and blessed me makes my statement, "I love you" have significant depth and meaning. Telling her, "I love you" about fifty times on our first date (while being extremely creepy) would be hallow, shallow, and rather meaningless. The depth of my love for her is informed by the content of our past shared experience and the ways she has loved me so well.
In the same way, in our worship gatherings, our time of singing should start with reflection on who he has revealed himself to be in the scriptures and in Jesus and also what he has done through all of redemptive history. With this backdrop of his greatness, compassion, mercy and love in view, we can fix our minds upon these glorious truths. How could we keep from responding with joy, thanks, and heartfelt gratitude?
Don't just sing about your emotions. We need to make God central in our times of singing and if this is the case then our emotions will most certainly follow. Worship God 09 helped me to solidify this truth in my mind.
Bob Kauflin sums this up well in his book, Worship Matters (p. 132):
“We gather as the church to proclaim the truth. We gather to declare—to ourselves, to each other, and to God—what we know to be eternal reality. There is one God, who is sovereign over the universe and every detail of our lives. We have rebelled against him. He sent his Son to die in our place for our sins. And through Jesus Christ we have forgiveness and peace with God.
There are many things we can proclaim during and after a time of corporate worship. God’s glory is unending, and his perfections are infinite. But the fuel of our praise will always be the gospel of Christ who has redeemed us and brought us to God.”