At WorshipGod09:From Generation to Generation, I gave the last message on The Future of Worship, based on Ps. 78:1-8. The previous messages had dealt mostly with the biblical values of worship we want to pass on to future generations – the nature of God, the importance of the heart, the role of leadership, the significance of the local church, and more. The question I asked in my message was: What do we need to keep in mind as we seek to transfer these and other biblical values of worship to the next generation?
In preparing for the message I came across some comments from Nigel Hetherington, the Scottish National Sprints and Hurdles coach. He described what is most important for runners in a relay race to remember. A number of his recommendations relate directly to how we pass on the biblical values of worship from one generation to the next.
The race is about the baton, not the runners.
If you run without the baton, no matter how fast you’re running, your race is in vain. For worship leaders, the baton is the gospel. The gospel – Jesus’ substitutionary death for sinners that reconciled us to God – must always inform everything we pass on. It is the gospel that transforms our dead works into acceptable offerings (1 Pet. 2:5) and draws our attention to the glory of the Lamb who was slain (Rev. 5:6-10).
The relay brings out the best in every runner.
Oddly enough, a properly-trained 400 meter relay team will post a time that is faster than the four runners’ combined 100 meter times. We will serve our churches better and pass on biblical values more effectively if we’re more conscious of those running before and after us. Bryan Chappell, in his excellent book Christ-Centered Worship, says:
We should not ignore the wisdom of church forebears just because it’s old, or automatically reject it just because we didn’t’ think of it. We consider the history because God does not give all of his wisdom to any one time or people (16).
Practice until the handover becomes instinctual.
Athletes must learn to trust one another. Rather than looking back, the outgoing runner should be trained to respond to a ‘hand’ command. Both runners are looking ahead, but it’s the responsibility of the previous runner to make sure the baton is passed. If I’m part of the “passing” generation, I want to be sure that I’m not always looking back to what’s worked for me or the practices that I’m most comfortable with. I want my eyes on what God might be doing in the future, and make sure the next generation really catches what’s most important.
The baton exchange should occur at very close to maximum speed.
The incoming athlete should not be overstretched, or he will be off-balance when making the exchange. The outgoing runner must focus on reaching full speed and only put his hand back when he receives the ‘hand’ command. This means that we must intentionally stay close to and learn from generations before and after us.
Tomorrow, I’ll post the story of Asaph, a man whose legacy demonstrated how one man faithfully passed on the biblical values of corporate worship to future generations.
(For another take on Ps. 78:1-8 that’s more geared to passing on the gospel to future generations, check out the exceptional message Jared Mellinger preached at our last Pastors’ Conference. You can download it here.)