08 [ToW] Christocentric Worship

Episode 8 April 04, 2024 00:12:00
08 [ToW] Christocentric Worship
Hillsong Creative Team Talks
08 [ToW] Christocentric Worship

Apr 04 2024 | 00:12:00


Show Notes

1 - WHAT does it mean for Jesus Christ to be the center of our worship?
2 - WHY should our worship be centered in Jesus?
3 - HOW is our worship centered around Jesus?

Hebrews 7:26-27
Ephesians 2
Ephesians 3:20-21 

The Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services

Part of our Theology of Worship series, this episode is with Adam Dodson from the Hills campus in Sydney. Adam has been a key part of the Hillsong Creative team for over 15 years as a musician & creative pastor. He is currently part of the Worship faculty of Hillsong College, with a Master of Arts in Worship Studies.

For more of our Theology of Worship series:


Created by: Adam Dodson
Produced by: JP Starra
Music by: Michael Harrison & Harry Parnwell
Artwork by: Yoseph Setiawan & Kristin Mateika
Intro by: Shelby Mtsamayi

More resources available at https://hillsongcreative.com

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:09] Speaker A: Welcome to the creative team talks podcast for Hillsong Creative. [00:00:18] Speaker B: Well, hello. This is Adam Dodson, one of the musicians at Hills and one of the faculty at Hillsong College. This team talks is all about planning and leading Jesus centered worship. Now, you may already be thinking we already lead our church in worship that's centered on Jesus, right. Well, before we go to class, please allow me to share a short story with you. Not so long ago, my wife Katie and I were leaving church one morning after attending a service. And as we walked out to the car, we both sort of said a similar thing to each other, like we felt that something was off in the service or there was just something missing. The setlist was beautiful. The musicianship and the worship leadership was excellent, but it still felt a bit empty. And then, almost simultaneously, we both began to reflect on the song lyrics of the set list that day. And we realized there was not even one mention of Jesus in any of the song lyrics. Well, that was it. We found the missing piece. It seemed that the essence of our worship that morning was missing. So we grieved for a moment that somehow in all of the planning, the preparations, the drafting of set list, the rehearsing, and all of that, it seemed that Jesus, the one whom we worship, was missing. Now, why does this matter? Well, let's consider a theological point from the book of Hebrews, and then I'll offer a few checkpoints that we can apply in our planning to lead our church in worship. Number one, what does it mean for Jesus Christ to be the center of our worship? One of the mentors I've had throughout my academic studies in worship is Constance cherry. And in her book, the Worship Architect, she says the cornerstone of christian worship is Jesus Christ. And this truth alone determines the authenticity of christian worship. Now, the term cornerstone is an architectural metaphor that helps us to understand the priority of Christ in our worship. Historically speaking, in architectural engineering, the purpose of a cornerstone was to serve as the foundational piece for from which the entire structure is measured to be true. Once the cornerstone was set in place, all else would flow from there. And Constance goes on to explain how in architecture and construction, that laying the cornerstone must be the priority. For if it is slighted, the entire structure is compromised. So with this image in mind and with song lyrics that we all sing and lead and play that sing and declare that Christ alone cornerstone, you know, we can begin to see this idea work. I think one of the dashboard indicators for Christ centered christocentric worship are the lyrics of the songs that we choose for our set list. You know, like you, I am grateful that our church, by God's grace, has a long legacy of composing songs for worship, endlessly rich in theology and poetic expressions of prayer and praise and worship and adoration. And at the same time, some songs written and published under the label of contemporary worship may tend towards a self centered or an egocentric focus, with lyrics that may express more about how I feel or what I need from God or what I desire or how I need God to move. You know, all of these lyrical confessions have their place, and they must be chosen for use in corporate worship thoughtfully. So when it comes to leading congregational worship, we must choose our songs carefully so that our words will have merit when we sing lyrics such as it's all about you, Jesus, or Jesus at the center of it all. Now, this is an idea that I teach our students called priestly discernment. Second, why should our worship be centered in Jesus? Well, to answer this question, we need to insert a theological footnote, because it's important that we remember in ancient times or in the BC days of the Old Testament that sacrifices and rituals were required by the priest before God's presence could be approached. Long before there were stage designs and set lists, there were grueling lists of rules and regulations outlining the sacrificial worship God required before his people could access his presence. If we were to reduce it down, the sinful human condition separated us from approaching God's holiness. So a repeating program of animal sacrifices was required so that priests could mediate between God's people and God's presence. Well, now, because of the work of Christ on the cross, the writer of Hebrews establishes a theology of christocentric worship when he reinterprets the Old Testament themes of rituals and sacrifices through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Now we know that Jesus Christ is our mediator and high priest. So Hebrews 726 27 says, such a high priest truly meets our needs, one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priest, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day. Further down, it says, he sacrificed for their sins once and for all when he offered himself praise God. Right? Praise God for Jesus Christ. Now, it's only because of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can approach the presence of God and lead others to do the same. You know, further to this point, Paul writes in Ephesians, chapter two, that all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. And in verse 20 he says, together we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, and the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him becoming a holy temple for the Lord. The third question how is our worship centered on Jesus? You know, I said to one of our college students recently, great song choices for chapel today. You know, it was very clear whom we were worshiping. And I said that because it may not always be clear that Jesus is being worshipped, especially if set lists are crafted with songs that may not explicitly mention the name of Jesus Christ or make reference to his work on the cross or acknowledge his presence in the church and in our lives today. You know, we center our worship on Jesus with our language. The songs we choose to sing, the art that we make, the sermons we preach, the imagery we employ, and the prayers that we pray. Songs we choose for set list and the way that we design our worship services must lead our church without question in the worship and adoration of Jesus Christ. Our music and all of the creative arts should call others to remembrance and praise for the victorious work of Christ on the cross. This is a responsibility that we cannot save only for Easter weekend. So what now? Or what does all of this mean for the creative team preparing to lead worship? Well, here are a few things that you might consider that may help to pass the christocentric litmus test. First thing, consider the lyrics of each of the songs in your set list. Do they explicitly exalt Jesus Christ, or do they only imply or elude to the worship of Jesus Christ? You know, some songs are beautifully artistic and rich in poetic language, and some use metaphors or even make reference to biblical imagery. But these may not all be understood by a new person in the congregation that may have limited knowledge of the Bible or even of christianese or christian language. So ask yourself, is it obvious that Jesus Christ is worshiped and adored? Is he named? You know, if your song lyrics don't do this, then as a worship leader, what might you say or pray between songs to rightfully place Jesus at the center? The second question is, do the song lyrics sing more about us than about Jesus? Do the lyrics sing about Jesus or do they sing to him, or do they sing about us? You know, are the songs balanced with horizontal lyrics such as me, we, or I with vertical lyrics that invite our church to sing directly to God by addressing God the Father, Jesus the Son, or the Holy Spirit? In overall, consider the narrative or the thematic flow of your set list and see if you can identify an overall theme or a journey. In other words, what are your song lyrics doing or saying? You know, when academics speak, I might ask, what is the liturgical action that you are leading our church to respond to God with? For example, some songs speak prophetically to the church, while other song lyrics call worshippers to repentance or renewed commitment or to make a corporate confession of belief in Christ. How can you ensure that these are balanced with songs that declare God's praise for who he is and what he's done, and that give glory and adoration to Jesus Christ? So in closing, you know, by God's grace, our creative team tells the story of Jesus faithfully week after week, and as we serve God in our congregation with the skills and talents that God has given us. May I finish with this declaration from ephesians 320 and 21 now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. [00:11:33] Speaker A: Thanks for listening for more of our theology of worship series, look for them in the title as you scroll through the episodes. There's also a link in the show notes for the whole series. We hope they encourage you and we'll see you next time.

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