I recently finished a new book by Dr. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis. Gaines book, When God Comes to Church: Experiencing the Fullness of His Presence offers a number of excellent insights about planning and leading worship. I like this quote from C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) that Gaines uses to emphasize the need of Christ-centered worship services. In the quote Spurgeon is addressing young preachers when he states:
“Let your sermons be full of Christ, from beginning to end crammed full of the Gospel. As for myself, brethren, I cannot preach anything else but Christ and His cross, for I know nothing else, and long ago, like the Apostle Paul, I determined not to know anything else save Jesus Christ and Him crucified [a reference to I Cor. 2:2] . . . . Preach Jesus Christ, brethren, always and everywhere; and every time you preach be sure to have much of Jesus Christ in your sermon . . . . We preach Jesus Christ to those who want Him, and we also preach Him to those who do not want Him, and we keep on preaching Christ until we make them feel that they do want Him, and cannot do without Him.” (Gaines, p. 42-43)
I agree with Spurgeon and Gaines. Our services should focus on Christ. There should be a Gospel, cross-centered theme in our corporate worship services each time we gather. How often have I attended a Christian worship service where Christ or His cross were not mentioned the whole service? More than I want to remember. Our songs, our prayers, our testimonies and our sermons should point to Christ.
When a Christian tells his pastor he does not need to hear the Gospel story any more because he has matured beyond that point, we are in dangerous territory. Christ is our Savior and Lord, our Great High Priest before the Throne, the Lamb of God. We must preach Christ.
Gaines closes his chapter stating that “a worship service without the awareness of Jesus’ obvious presence is a waste of time. He is the One who deserves the spotlight. He is the focus for every part of geniune worship.” (44).
Worship Leader – is your service full of Christ and His cross? As David Prior once said: “We never move on from the cross of Christ, only into a more profound understanding of the cross.”
When God Comes to Church, Steve Gaines, Broadman and Holman, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-8054-4398-1.