I came upon a gem on the subject that I shall call “living worship,” from Spurgeon. The sermon stirred me in my own approach to the sacred altar of divine services. Yet, my observation of this man of God teaching on worship and leading worship, also, led me to consider my work of training pastors in this most fundamental duty of our divine calling.
As I am teaching pastors and we are in a day when we so many clergymen are hiring out musicians as “worship leaders,” thus, giving over the teaching and conducting of the services of worship to those not called, trained, and ordained to the ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Prayer, we must be careful to remember that we who are so called cannot outsource that which is committed unto our sacred charge. We value our directors of music, our capable and skilled musicians and liturgists, but the conducting of the divine service of worship must remain the priority of the minister of the Gospel. Worship is the most public expression of his pastoral program of feeding and healing the flock committed to his care, as well as casting the net to the God-fearers in the community.
I do not care to be hung up on semantics—e.g., worship leader, or director of music, etc.—(although words are important and the names we ascribe often convey a philosophy of ministry) as long as it is clearly understood that the pastor remains the called, tested, and ordained believer in the community of Christians authorized and set apart to conduct regular services of worship. This is not a pedantic observation, but one that speaks to the core of his pastoral task of shepherding the flock through Davidic Psalm, liturgical prayer, and worship that is according to Scripture.
Here is the wonderful quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon from January 1, 1893. His text that day was, “But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD” (Psalm 115:18).
Let us come before the Lord, not as mere bodies, fancying that it is enough to put in an appearance in the place where prayer is known to be made, but let us bring our living selves, our souls, our hearts, into God’s worship–and whether it is in prayer, or in praise, or in the proclamation of His Truths, or in the listening to the Gospel message–let us do it with all our life! Let the praise be full of life! Let the prayer be full of life! Let the ministration of the Truth of God be the lively oracle of the living God! And let the ear, the heart’s ear, be all alive while we listen to the Gospel!