Introduction: Worship styles! Want to start a fight? Just take a firm
position on that issue. Some churches resolve the matter by using
different worship styles at different services. Have a preference?
Attend the service that reflects your views. In my old church, we
had different types of music on different Sabbaths. That solution
made people happy some of the time. My current church began with firm
beliefs specifically about the style of worship because the founders
believed it was critical to reaching nonbelievers. Their views on
music are my views, so it has been an easy choice for me. The real
issue is not my preference or yours, but rather what does the Bible
teach us about music and worship? Let’s plunge into our study and
- Worship and the Wall
- Read Nehemiah 12:27. What is the reason for this
gathering? (To dedicate the wall of Jerusalem.)
- Would you call that worship? (To whom are they
dedicating the wall? If they are dedicating it to
God, then I would call it worship.)
- What is the overall tone of the dedication? (They
- Does that reflect what is going on in your
church during worship?
- What kind of music did they use? (Singing. The
instruments mentioned are cymbals, harps and lyres. I
think we understand cymbals and harps. A lyre appears
to my uneducated eye as a cross between a guitar and
a harp. It is a stringed instrument.)
- What was the theme of their music? (Thanksgiving!)
- Have you analyzed the music you sing at church?
- When I was growing up much of it seemed to be
celebrating God’s followers and not God. Is
that a problem?
- Have you criticized worship music because it is
simple and repeats the same phrase? If so, read
Revelation 4:8 and explain the practices at
- Read Nehemiah 12:28-29. Who sang? (People designated as
musicians traveled to the dedication.)
- Is there a lesson in this for church worship?
- Let’s skip down and read Nehemiah 12:43. What is the
dominant them for this worship? (Rejoicing.)
- Is that the dominant theme for worship in your
- Is your worship more conducive to worshiping or
- I recall visiting a church where the pastor preached
so long and in such an uninteresting way that I
literally fell asleep. I’m sure it was just for a
very short period of time. But, when I awoke I looked
around and saw that everyone in the church had also
fallen asleep. When I mentioned this remarkable thing
to my wife, she responded that we were praying, which
was why everyone had their eyes closed. My question
and her response struck us as being so funny that we
were having a terrible time being quiet during the
- Look again at Nehemiah 12:43, the last part. Who else
could not sleep during this worship service? (The
neighbors! The Bible tells us the sound of rejoicing
“could be heard far away.”)
- Worship Organization
- Read Nehemiah 12:31 and Nehemiah 12:38-39. Consider what
this would look like. What does this reflect?
(Organization. Preparation. An eye for how things look.
I’m sure this procession looked impressive.)
- How does your church rate when it comes to the
organization of your worship? Is it put together on
the spot? Does anyone pay any attention to how things
- Do you recall any examples of a worship that
looked great and was well-organized?
- Do you recall any examples of a worship that
looked bad and was disorganized?
- What is the reason for a disorganized, bad
looking worship? (Worship services are
disorganized when people fail to take the time
to do things right. It reflects a lack of
preparation and taking matters seriously.)
- Two weeks ago I preached in a small church that had a
beautiful front of the sanctuary. You walked in and it
looked very impressive. I recall another small church I
visited where the front of the church had a prominent
plumbing pipe sticking out of the wall that looked
terrible. I suspect the members were so used to the pipe
that they did not think anything about it. In the first
church the members who built it were particular about the
details. In the second church, they didn’t care very much.
Which one of these examples is more like your church?
- Read 1 Chronicles 25:1-2 and 1 Chronicles 25:6-7. Notice
the repeated reference to both supervision and training.
Should those who participate in the worship service at
church be supervised and trained?
- I’m often asked to preach. With God’s blessings and
hard work on my part, I think the result brings glory
to God. However, no one ever asks me to sing. Any
idea why that is?
- When I’m teaching or preaching, I never try to sneak
in a little singing. Any idea why that is?
- Should a church be less selective in choosing singers
than choosing preachers? Should singers (or those
praying, calling for the offering, or reading the
scripture) try to sneak in a little preaching?
- Should a church have some hard rules against
unrequested and unauthorized preaching? Or, is
the unrequested unauthorized stuff a reflection
of the leading of the Holy Spirit? (I never
want to quench the Holy Spirit, but I think
both supervision and training are important to
excellence in worship.)
- Sacrifices and the Wall
- Re-read Nehemiah 12:43. What do you think the people
(actually the priests) were doing when they “offered great
sacrifices?” (They were sacrificing animals.)
- How is killing animals consistent with joy? (One
commentary said that these sacrifices would be “thank
offerings.” The people are able to participate in
eating these sacrifices. This as one big barbecue!)
- Read 1 John 1:7-9. What does this suggest about the
followers of God?
- We previously mentioned the fact that the people were
dedicating the wall. I suggested that it was a form
of worship because they were dedicating it to God. It
is possible that they were dedicating it to being a
strong wall? A wall to defeat their enemies?
- Would it be more appropriate, given what we have
studied so far, to conclude they were rejoicing over
the safety of the completed wall?
- Why did they need to rebuild the wall? (There are two
plausible reasons for the dedication. First,
Jerusalem had fallen because God’s people were
unfaithful to Him. I think they wanted to purify
everything, including the wall, to make it part of
God’s holy city. Second, the wall was a source of
protection and a sign that they had overcome the
opposition of their enemies. 1 John 1:7 tells us that
being in a right relationship with God is our goal.
That, and defeating your enemies, are two good
reasons to rejoice with God.)
- Let’s look at the two texts that bracket the one we just
read. Read 1 John 1:6 and 1 John 1:10. What are the two
extremes that we must avoid? (Living a life that does not
reflect our fellowship with God. Claiming that we live a
perfect life when we do not.)
- How do these extremes reflect poorly on the glory of
- Read Nehemiah 12:46. Should our lives reflect our songs?
(Yes! Songs are one form of communication. Our lives
should be about praise and thanksgiving to God!)
- Next week: Backslidden people.