Don’t try to manipulate me

Churches often know how to pull at heart strings just right. The worship leaders play just the right music at just the right times. The preacher uses just the right amount of humor mixed with just the right amount of points that hit home. And all of this together causes people to leave feeling happy, convicted, and as if they’ve met with God.

But have they?

It’s everywhere we go. It’s in the large churches. It’s in the conferences. And everyone says that it needs to be in your church, too.

But the truth is, it already is.

We can’t help but think this way. We want people to worship. We want people to respond to the message. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. Part of being a worship leader is creating an atmosphere conducive to worship. How far should we go in doing that? As far as we’re able, and as far as it takes.

Yet we shouldn’t focus on all of these elements as if they were the things that stir people to worship and respond to God. Go ahead and do them, but not as if they are substance of worship. Worship doesn’t take place because of perfectly timed chords, but in the heart of the one playing, and in the hearts of those listening, when they are in awe of the Almighty God.

So at what point does “creating an atmosphere conducive to worship” step over the line and become manipulative? I’m not sure, but I think it has a lot to do with the hearts of the worship leaders. If you’re a worship leader or preacher, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you truly worshiping, or simply trying to tug at heart strings?
  • Are you seeking to point everyone to worship the God who you yourself love, or are you seeking simply to build up your church or make yourself look good?
  • Have you been changed by the grace of God, and are you leading worship and preaching out of the joy of being shown grace?

Sure, we ought to everything with excellence. But don’t let the excellence become the focus. Simply worship God genuinely, and preach the Word truthfully, and let God move in people’s hearts.

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