Feelings Matter to God
Those who carry the official title of “Worship leader”
(those who lead in musical worship) of all people should understand that the ultimate goal of praise goes far beyond mere singing. Though a lack of vocal participation may be an indicator of a lack of ready hearts, if the people don’t feel a certain way then they sing—they are not worshiping. That’s right. That’s what I said. Feelings matter to God. We cannot be indifferent to the words we sing. Our hearts must be moved as we sing or we offer empty praise. If our singing is not attended with the appropriate emotions of joy, awe, fear, gratitude, contrition, etc., then we are clanging symbols. These emotions are commanded of us in the scriptures. They are not optional.
Emotionalism vs. Emotional Worship – The difference between emotionalism and emotional worship is the difference between emotions which are commanded of us in the scriptrues that are in conformity with truth, and emotions which have their source in somthing other than the truth. To say it another way, it is the difference between finding our emotional high in God by the power of the Holy Spirit vs. finding our emotional high merely in the music.
Emotion is of the Essence of Worship – Nevertheless, emotions have everything to do with genuine worship. Stirring up the emotions is not a bad thing, unless it is either not based on truth, or used for a mechanical manipulation (external conformity) of the audience. Stirring up thankfulness in the heart to God, stirring up tear-jerking joy in God, stirring up contrition over sin, stirring up feelings of awe at the Glory of God, etc. are in fact, the ultimate and highest goal of musical worship, and are therefore of the very essence of musical worship. These are not things you do (joy, awe, contrition, etc.) but things you are and feel in your heart.
Our Emotion Must Be Rooted in the Truth About God – The two key aspects of worship are 1) to worship in Spirit – namely that one worships not just by external conformity (like the Pharisee’s), but in the heart (which involves the affections and emotions–all of our internal activity), and secondly 2) to worship in truth – that our hearts are stirred up by the truth rather than aimless emotion. Again, this is the difference between emotionalism (aimless emotion) and emotional worship. Emotional worship has a defined foundation: the truth about God; and a definite object of affection: the glory of God. Emotional worship (that is, worship which moves the heart to godly emotions based on the truth about God) is the only kind of worship there is. Everything else may be called worship, but it cannot be genuine unless it flows from a state of heart which has been affected by the truth about God.