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#ThursdayWorshipThoughts 12.20.18

Make a Beeline to the Cross

There was a powerful, prolific preacher who lived during the 1800’s in London, England. By the age of 22, he was one of the most well-known preachers in the world. He is known by many as the “Prince of Preachers”. His name was Charles Spurgeon. During his life, he faithfully proclaimed the word of God and watched as his church in London grew to over 10,000 in attendance. With nearly 3,600 sermons given throughout the course of his life to draw from, Charles Spurgeon is still one of the most often quoted preachers today.

Unfortunately, with popularity comes controversy. Spurgeon is also one of the most mis-quoted preachers today.

My personal favorite Spurgeon mis-quote goes something like this: At one point someone approached Charles Spurgeon and accused him of only ever preaching one message. “All you ever do is preach about the cross” they said.  At that point, Spurgeon replied, “That’s right. That’s right. Wherever in the Bible I take my text I make a beeline to the cross and start preaching about the Lord Jesus.”

I love that story! It’s not true -or at least it cannot be historically verified, but I still love it.

As Worship Leaders, I think this is the attitude with which we should approach leading a congregation in worship. We need to make a beeline to the cross and start preaching (musically) about the Lord Jesus!

Several generations ago, when someone wanted to know about a particular church in the area, they would ask questions like, “What is the preaching like there?” Today, a much more common question would be, “What is the music like there?”

The reality that we have to deal with is that many people are tuning in to the music and tuning out of the sermon. I know that sounds brutal, and I do not personally like the reality, but it’s true. Many people who come to church week after week get more of their theology from the songs that we sing than from the sermons that they hear.

This is not a new phenomenon, by the way. It is an old truth that has recently resurfaced. Several hundred years ago, the prominent preachers of the day recognized this reality, and they used it to their advantage. Preachers like John and Charles Wesley, John Newton, Isaac Watts (and many, many others) realized in the late 1600s and 1700s that their people were more likely to remember songs than sermons throughout the week, so they set their sermons to music. Many of the classic hymns that we know and love from that time period were written by pastors! And it worked! Still today, you’re likely unfamiliar with a single sermon that John Newton delivered to his congregation in Olney in Buckinghamshire, England in the late 1700s… but I’ll bet you can easily recite his song, “Amazing Grace”.

The reality is that we have a unique and important opportunity to fill the hearts, minds, and mouths of our fellow worshipers with deep theological truths about God. The songs that we select for congregational worship are crucial, because they may be the only dose of theology that will be remembered by the typical congregant from a typical Sunday morning.

Because this is true (and significant!), I plead with you, please do not spend all of that precious time singing fluffy, surface-level half-truths about God. Don’t sing incoherent, merely poetic, spiritualized ramblings that make you feel good, but lack true substance. Sing about truth that truly is good!

Make a beeline to the cross and start (musically) preaching about the Lord Jesus! Lead your people in Biblical truth set to music! Make sure that the songs you sing clearly present the gospel, then step back and watch as the Spirit of God transforms the lives right in front of you.

For a printable version of this article, click here.

Artwork provided by my good friend, Brooke Gehman, an authentic and wonderful man of God, devoted follower of Christ, and an amazing husband and father. Brooke is a gifted Worship Leader, an incredible artist, and a Potter by trade (check out his website).

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