Over the next few weeks, CHURCH MUSIC TODAY will feature some blog articles by guest authors. The authors will include Rev. Tim Hooper, Minister of Music at Stithton Baptist Church in Radcliff, KY, Rev. John Cashion, Minister of Music at Beaver Dam Baptist Church in Beaver Dam, KY, Rev. Rod Ellis, Worship & Outreach Pastor at Journey Baptist Fellowship in Lexington, KY, and Rev. Mark Williams, Pastor of Hawesville Baptist Church in Hawesville, KY.
Today, we feature the first article and author. Rev. Mark Williams, Pastor of Hawesville Baptist Church is featured today with an article called “No Labels Needed: The Idea of Thematic Worship”.
Everybody in the world values something so highly that they build their entire lives around it. For some people it is God. For others it is money, success, sex, family, fame, or a number of other things. However, everyone in this world has something that drives them and shapes their emotions, their wills, and their thoughts. It dominates their calendar and their checkbook.
Over two-thousand years ago, a man by the name of Jesus Christ walked into a world full of worshipers. He said something to a woman at a well on a hot Palestinian day that radically changed the entire concept of real worship forever. He made one little statement that nobody has ever made before and nobody has ever made since, and it totally revolutionized the way we look at worship. John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in Truth.”
The worship we see in Scripture looks very different than the worship that goes on in the hearts of most people and most churches. Many churches are more concerned with styles and trends than they are with true biblical worship. Real, meaningful worship with God’s people is not optional nor is it a suggestion. Worship on the Lord’s Day should be the highlight of our week. It is an opportunity to engage our minds toward God, to fellowship with His people, to eat and drink from His Word, to give ourselves to Him, to encourage and to be encouraged, and to praise Him!
One of the ways we can sharpen our focus in worship is by planning thematic services. In other words, the whole service revolves around the central Biblical truth that is being presented by the pastor. We want our people leaving the church building with no doubts as to what the Word of God has instructed. This means that our music, prayers, offering and children’s message will support the central theme and text of the Pastor’s message.
I believe thematic worship has several advantages. First, it helps us stay focused. Thematic worship allows our people to focus on one particular aspect of God’s truth and they are seeing and hearing it throughout the corporate worship service.
Second, it provides an opportunity for meditation. We want our people to “think on these things” throughout the entire service. It’s been said that “repetition is the key to learning.” That is exactly what we want, repetition. We want our people to understand the central truth that we are trying to present.
Third, it gives a welcoming invitation. The focused development of the theme throughout the worship service allows the person’s heart to “catch up” with his mind. The congregation is hearing this central truth over and over again.
Fourth, it is a wonderful organizational tool. Thematic worship gives your Worship leader direction. It will help him prepare his heart and pray through the biblical passage that will be presented.
Fifth, it brings a unifying focus. Our worship must be focused on God and centered in the Word of God. Having a central theme throughout your service will help you to do that.
I am not talking about the latest fad or trend. Nor am I saying that this is the only way to lead a corporate worship service. The truth of the matter is, you must worship the right God in the right way, or else it does not matter what kind of theme you may have. You must worship the God of Truth according to the Truth of God. You must make sure that Jesus is exalted, God is glorified, and God’s people are edified.
—-Rev. Mark Williams is a guest author on CHURCH MUSIC TODAY and is the Pastor at Hawesville Baptist Church. Mark is a native of Shelbyville, Kentucky. He earned a baseball scholarship to Oakland City University in Indiana where he attended for 2 years. While at Oakland City he received his calling to preach.
In 2006, Mark graduated from Boyce College, a school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010, Mark earned his Master of Divinity degree at Southern Seminary. From 2003-2005, Mark served as the Youth Minister of Bagdad Baptist Church in Bagdad, Kentucky. He served as an Evangelist from 2004-2006. He also led ministries at First Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Kentucky.
He was called as Pastor of Hawesville Baptist Church in August 2006.Mark resides in Hawesville, Kentucky with his beautiful wife Jessica and their daughter Madelyn, who was born in March 2009. Jessica graduated from Boyce College in December 2006. She is a great Bible teacher and his companion in ministry. You can contact Mark by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit his blog here: http://marktwilliams.wordpress.com/