Isn't the Sermon More Important?

Or, how to have a meaningful conversation with "that person" who straggles in every Sunday as the worship band is walking off.

We all have them. The folks who walk in 25 minutes late every Sunday. Every single Sunday. And it genuinely doesn't bother them at all that they totally missed the sung worship.

I'm not talking about families with young kids. Go easy on them. I'm pointing to the mentality within Evangelicalism that the Sunday service exists for the preaching, and being there to learn is what counts.

"The sermon's the point anyway. I'm not really late." Missing some of the songs isn't a big deal as long as I hear the sermon, right? That's where the real meat of the service is presented. The worship music was the appetizer.

Missing some of the songs isn't a big deal as long as I hear the sermon, right?

It's a justification they probably feel honestly.

Besides, often the music isn't really my style, they say. It's difficult to focus on glorifying God when I am so distracted by a musical style that I find annoying or even distasteful.

At one church I know of, some congregants would wait outside in the foyer purposely to protest the music, and only come into the sanctuary once the sung worship was finished.

And if you had asked one of them, they probably would have said that they weren't missing out on much. And they honestly believed it.

Unfortunately, in some churches it is possible they may have had a point.

Sermon vs. Singing

Don't misunderstand me: a great sermon makes a huge difference, and God absolutely uses sermons to change a person's understanding of who He is, who they are in Him, and what His plans are for the world. (And of course some churches have precisely the opposite problem.) But sung worship isn't just to get people in the door so they can hear the sermon - it has it's own unique purposes.

Sung worship isn't just to get people in the door so they can hear the sermon

When we worship, we lift our hearts up to God. Singing at the top of our lungs is a physical expression of joy, celebration, gratefulness, or even lament. Gathering together with the united Body of Christ as the community worships is a situation where the whole equals more than the sum of its parts. The church needs each voice.

We edify, strengthen, and build one another up. My sister across the aisle is encouraged in her faith as I give the Lord my commitment and devotion in singing out with the gathered believers.

There are also faith-formative aspects to sung worship. My day-in day-out vision of who God is and the language of my prayer life are largely shaped by sung worship at least as much if not more than any other element in the service.

God is Worthy

Finally, isn't God worthy of our praise and adoration? Whether we feel like it or not? Whether the musical style suits our taste or not? Does failure to participate in the sung worship of the church bring more glory to God?

The worship service isn't just a tool to bring people in the doors so that they will hear the sermon, and any teaching pastor worth their salt will tell you as much. When we sing with the body of believers, our faith is proclaimed and strengthened, we minister to those around us, and ultimately God is glorified. And ultimately, He is who the worship is for (and about).

Our faith is proclaimed and strengthened, we minister to those around us, and ultimately God is glorified

Every so often, use your prepared comments between songs to thank your congregation for their role in encouraging those around them by their presence and participation. Thank them for being a part of your joint offering to God with their hearts and voices this morning.

Learning biblical truth in the preaching is crucial. But delighting in God, and meeting together as redeemed ones with Him is always the point.