Helping Believers Worship In Spirit And in Truth
How do you make people worship? The short answer is, you can't. It is humanly impossible to make people worship. Regardless of the talent of the musician, the mood of the worship service, the expertise of the worship media, or the volume of the music, nobody can make another person truly worship.
Is it about atmosphere? Surely, if you have the right atmosphere, people will be compelled to worship, right? No. The right “worship atmosphere” isn't something you can somehow manipulate, like you would adjust the thermostat in a climate-controlled building. It's not about musical talent, either. Sure, it will be distracting if your voice cracks while trying to hit the high “e,” but this does not prevent or compel worship. In order to answer the question, “how do you help people worship,” it will be helpful to look at some basic biblical facts.
Worship is about ascribing to God His worth (1 Chronicles 16:27-29; 2 Kings 17:36). First off, worship is not even about us to begin with. Worship is about God. It sounds simplistic, I know, but think about how easy it is to slide in and out of a worship service, giving scant attention to the Very One for whom the worship service exists. At the very least, such a truth should humble us and knock us off our high horses if we think we can somehow manipulate or coerce people into a worshipful attitude.
Worship is ultimately for God, not us. People can get really worked up about worship styles. For many people, having the right sound in the worship music is the Big Deciding Factor over whether a church is good for them or not—or maybe even deciding whether those other people with that worship style are good Christians or not. The term worship style came about in part, due to the errant notion that worship is about us and about what pleases us–the type of music, or the choice of instruments, or the time period in which the songs were written. Obviously, there are some types of worship that may be so distracting to some people that they simply have a very hard time worshipping in such a setting. Their minds, culture, conscience, or upbringing make it impossible for them to tolerate certain manners of worship. Other times, a certain form of worship may indeed have negative qualities or actions, contrary to what the Bible teaches. The point here is to assert that worship is not about what pleases us, what we like, or even what we're comfortable with. You may have been very uncomfortable with the worship music of Israel, or even some of their worship practices (2 Samuel 6:13-23). Petty personal preferences aside, worship is about God. Worship is a response of humility, gratitude, and joy to His greatness (Psalm 100; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 51:11). We are often so concerned with what people will think about our worship, that we construct a barrier to true worship. Our attempts at a good worship experience morph into an insipid self-worship. “Should I raise my hands at this point in the song?” “Is this a good time to break out in ‘spontaneous' prayer?” “What will they think if I ask the people to sing the chorus again?” “Is closing my eyes through the refrain a good idea?” When these types of questions become our preoccupation, we start worshipping not God, but ourselves. God severely warns against anything but God-worship, admitting that our hearts can be deceived away from Himself (Deuteronomy 8:19; Deuteronomy 11:6).