The Centrality of God's Word in Worship

Dr. Harold Best is Dean Emeritus of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and a life-long church musician. If you haven't read his Music Through the Eyes of Faithstop reading and get yourself a copy immediately!

If you're still here (seriously, if you don't have a copy, go get's wonderful), consider this quote from one of Dr. Best's other books, Unceasing Worship. And if you aren't from a church tradition that uses terms like liturgy, don't let that distract you. Liturgy just means the way in which the elements of the worship service are organized.

The effectiveness of a liturgy lies in its humility, in the absence of self-proclamation—“I am the liturgy, notice me.” The Word of God is the gathering point for all the content and all the action. If there is a high point or seasonal emphasis in a liturgy, this is to be subject to the scriptural wholeness within which all actions and emphases take place. IN Christ means IN the Word made flesh, and this means that the centrality of Christ guarantees the centrality of the Word, even as we sing or pray or preach or celebrate the Eucharist. It is because of this centrality that all liturgies, whether traditionally framed, denominationally created or “experimental,” will stand or fall in direct proportion to the centrality of the Word of God.
— Harold M. Best, "Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts"

Here are a few questions to keep in mind as you plan next week's worship service or review previous services:

  • How central is the Word of God in the planning and execution of this service?
  • What elements of this worship service are displacing God's Word from the place of centrality?
  • In what ways is this worship service guilty of "self-proclamation"?
  • Is the Word of God the gathering point for all the content and action of the service?
  • What changes do I need to make so that the entire service stands on the centrality of the Word of God?