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
learn more!

  1. Worship and the Wall

    1. Read Nehemiah 12:27. What is the reason for this
      gathering? (To dedicate the wall of Jerusalem.)

      1. 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.)

      2. What is the overall tone of the dedication? (They
        “celebrate joyfully.”)

        1. Does that reflect what is going on in your
          church during worship?

      3. 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.)

      4. What was the theme of their music? (Thanksgiving!)

        1. Have you analyzed the music you sing at church?

        2. When I was growing up much of it seemed to be
          celebrating God’s followers and not God. Is
          that a problem?

        3. 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

    2. Read Nehemiah 12:28-29. Who sang? (People designated as
      musicians traveled to the dedication.)

      1. Is there a lesson in this for church worship?

    3. Let’s skip down and read Nehemiah 12:43. What is the
      dominant them for this worship? (Rejoicing.)

      1. Is that the dominant theme for worship in your

      2. Is your worship more conducive to worshiping or

      3. 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

    4. 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.”)

      1. Worship Organization

        1. 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.)

          1. 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

            1. Do you recall any examples of a worship that
              looked great and was well-organized?

            2. Do you recall any examples of a worship that
              looked bad and was disorganized?

            3. 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.)

        2. 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?

        3. 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?

          1. 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?

          2. When I’m teaching or preaching, I never try to sneak
            in a little singing. Any idea why that is?

          3. 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?

            1. 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.)

      2. Sacrifices and the Wall

        1. 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.)

          1. 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!)

        2. Read 1 John 1:7-9. What does this suggest about the
          followers of God?

          1. 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?

          2. Would it be more appropriate, given what we have
            studied so far, to conclude they were rejoicing over
            the safety of the completed wall?

          3. 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.)

        3. 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.)

          1. How do these extremes reflect poorly on the glory of

        4. 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!)

      3. Next week: Backslidden people.