Strategic Success Factors For Organizational Excellence


A critical success factor is a performance area of crucial importance in achieving organizational excellence. There are at least two broad categories of critical success factors that are common to virtually all organizations: 1) systems processes, and 2) human processes. The focus of this post is on the human process areas, yet this is not to imply that they are more important than the systems processes. Both are essential to building great organizations.

To a large extent, every human process issue is a critical success factor. Every person has been important since people first formed organizations to accomplish tasks too big to be performed by individuals working alone—and every person will continue to present unique challenges as long as people work together. The shape each person takes is constantly evolving to fit changing circumstances, but every once in awhile, major shifts occur which dramatically change what’s required in each of these critical areas. We’re experiencing such a shift right now—moving deeper into a knowledge-based economy.

Globalization and information technology are placing different, challenging demands on leaders and organizations in virtually every performance area. Following are some highlights of these changes…

  1. Leadership/Management: “Command and control” leadership carried many organizations to very high levels of financial performance during periods when competition was not so great and things didn’t change very fast, but its time has passed. The demands on the total organization are too great for a few people at the top to call all the shots.
  2. Communication: In most organizations, there have been 3 pervasive patterns that will no longer work in knowledge-based organizations: a) the primary flow of information was vertical — within departmental walls that were often impermeable, b) information was hoarded and used as a source of power over others, and c) people at the top often withheld crucial strategic information from those lower in the organization in the belief they couldn’t handle it.
  3. Teamwork: Teamwork is more crucial to producing results today than ever before, and at the same time, the very nature of teams and their functions are changing rapidly. In the past it was typical to go for long periods — even an entire career — as the member of one functional team. Today, membership on more than one team is the norm, and it is unlikely that anyone entering the workforce will remain on the first team they join for more than a year at most.
  4. Alignment: Process reengineering and systems thinking are moving strategic alignment back to the top of many organizational agendas. It has become crystal clear that many of the greatest opportunities for productivity improvement lie at the interfaces of the processes used to achieve organizational goals — and it is fruitless to excel in one process while lagging in others.
  5. Conflict Management: The new economy increases the potential for conflict in virtually every area of organizational life. Stakeholders are more informed and frequently more demanding. Staff are being asked to do more with less — without the promise of job security that existed in the past; aligning self-interests with corporate interests is not as simple as it used to be. Different cultures are constantly being reintroduced and set the stage for major internal conflicts and power struggles. Developing good conflict resolution skills needs to be high on everyone’s personal and corporate agendas.
  6. Embracing Change: Individuals and organizations that change before they have to will be the winners in this new organizational season. People vary a lot in their tolerance of change and in the degree to which they actively seek change in their lives. It is difficult to grasp the potential for the continuing acceleration of change on a global scale. With more people having more access to information, it is reasonable to expect more innovation and more competition on a daily basis. Merely accepting change and learning to tolerate it will not be enough to successfully engage the opportunities that present themselves. We must become eager seekers of change.
  7. Organizational Learning (Life-long Development): Leaders and managers have always given lip service to the notion of people being their most important asset and to the need for continuous training and development. In most organizations, however, it has been no more than a notion. Most have not been consistent in this crucial area. The same organization that will spend $5,000 a year to maintain a copy machine will not spend $500 to develop a staff member. Of all the key success areas, this one is changing the most. The future belongs to learners — to individuals that take responsibility for updating their skills and knowledge, to teams that consciously develop the deep dialogue that enables team members to learn from one another, and to organizations that continuously improve their ability to transform data into value-added, actionable information to serve stakeholders.

Fake Or Real News?


Former Supreme Court Justice Jeff Souter in a 2012 interview: “[Republic] government wasn’t threatened by foreign invasion or a military coup, but by civic ignorance…What I worry about is, when problems are not addressed and the people do not know who is responsible…some one person will come forward and say, ‘Give me total power and I will solve this problem.’  That is how the Roman Republic fell…That is the way democracy dies.”

One the ways we can reverse “civic ignorance” is to learn to distinguish between fake news and real news.  Fake news got its start by advertisers seeking to drive traffic to websites in order to earn ad revenue. Tragically, there is a lack of civic and media literacy in our world that causes people to be vulnerable to “fake news,” which includes sponsored content and traditional corporate advertisements. To strengthen your ability to tell real news from fake news, begin by asking the five most common interrogatives of any stated news item:

  1. Who wrote it? Real news contains a real byline of a legit journalist dedicated to reporting facts. Once you find the byline, look at the writer’s bio. This can help identify whether the story is a reported news article (written by a journalist with the intent to inform), a persuasive opinion piece (written by an industry expert with a point of view), or something else entirely.
  2. What claims does it make? Real news will include multiple authentic sources when making a controversial claim. Fake news may include false or out of context sources that can be disproven through some basic research. When in doubt, dig a bit deeper. Real facts can be verified.
  3. When was it published? If it’s “breaking news,” be extra careful.
  4. Where was it published? Real news is published by trustworthy media outlets with a strong fact-check record. If you get your news from social media, verify that the information is accurate before you share it.
  5. How does it make you feel? Fake news, like all propaganda, is designed to elicit strong emotions. So if you read a news story that makes you feel angry, double-check the claims by comparing it to the news on other “trusted” outlets. Weigh and investigate the angles of each outlet to determine the legitimacy of the news. There is no substitute for critical thinking.

If you consistently ask all five of these questions whenever you read a news article, then your basic news literacy and civic awareness will grow stronger.

Linda’s Prayer for King’s Harbor Church


Linda spent most of the last two years working three days a week in Santa Barbara and then driving to Torrance/Redondo to be with me and with King’s Harbor Church on the weekends.  She was fully present when she was there and at the conclusion of our season of serving she wrote the following prayer that unfurls the beauty, faithfulness, mercy, grace, and majesty of God…

Dearest Father,

In our weakness, Your devoted love was stirred up on our behalf and You surrounded us with pastoral guardians from throughout the South Bay. Looking back, we now see that Your power is indeed made more perfect in our weakness. You have searched our hearts and answered prayers for healing through confession, repentance, and reconciliation by drawing us back to the Good Shepherd. You have disciplined us for our good, assuring us that in Your light we see light, we are forgiven, and find true liberty. Lord Jesus, refresh the souls of all who have walked together through this transition. Honor the volunteers, friends, and families who have sacrificed behind the scenes in less visible roles. May the faithfulness with which You have pursued us give us confidence that we are prepared for this next season of fruitful ministry.

Holy Spirit, grant King’s Harbor Church a time of green pastures and continued spiritual restoration as we live into the gospel together. Stir us to pray and teach us to discern good from evil, that we might fix our mind on the things that are above, growing a heart of wisdom for the times in which we live. We are grateful for our new pastor, Mike Dsane, and his wife, Sky. May they wear Your yoke, Lord Jesus, and not the yoke of our expectations.

Now may the good hand of God be evident in the King’s Harbor Church community both in word and in deed as we supremely treasure Jesus, our Lord and Savior. For from Him originates this Good News which is for all people and in which we stand! We ask these things in the glorious name of Jesus. Amen.

With love from Linda (and Gregg) Caruso

April 30, 2017

References to Scripture (in order from left to right)

Ps 125:2    2Cor 12:9a    Ps 139:23-24    John 10:11a    Heb 12:11    Ps 36:9b

1Cor 12:14    Ps 23:2a    Heb 5:14b    Zech 12:10    Col 3:2  Ps 90:12

Matt 11:30    Neh 2:18    Rom 11:36    Rom 5:2

What To Expect From A New Pastor

Ephesians 4:7-16


Contemporary pastors are expected to have:

  • The entrepreneurial skills of Bill Gates
  • The counseling skills of Dr. Phil
  • The organizational abilities of Stephen Covey
  • The authenticity of Oprah
  • The compassion of Mother Teresa
  • The courage of William Wallace (Braveheart)
  • And the humor of Robin Williams.”[1]

A good pastor is hard to find!

Stats related to Pastors:[2]

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • 50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
  • 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their roles.
  • 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • Almost 40% polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
  • 70% said the only time they spend studying the Bible is when they are preparing their sermons.

Stats related to Pastors’ Wives

  • 80% of pastors’ spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
  • 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
  • The majority of pastor’s wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

Overview of Ephesians

The first three chapters of Ephesians address the theological foundations of the Church.  Paul’s letters contain — Declarations and Commands, Theology and Ethics, Indicatives and Imperatives.

  • The Indicative: Informs us of an accomplished fact; it is what has already been declared about you. It’s related to our justification…
  • The Imperative: Is a command or direction – and is related to walking out the indicative and is related to our sanctification.

The second three chapters contain instruction, or input, on the practical outworking of the theological foundations of the Church.

Chap 4 contrasts our unity of being with our diversity of calling.

Vs 1-6 describe this unity as a oneness, or equality of Spirit, among all believers.

In v. 7 Paul turns a corner and begins to instruct the church regarding those who are to have authority within the Church…and this is where we begin our study today…


Today we asking the question: “What to expect from a new pastor?” from this text.  I’d like to highlight 5 characteristics from these 10 verses…

1.  A Man of Grace. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (v. 7)  

  • Not A measure, but THE measure.
  • Everyone of us has been given grace according to Christ’s measure.  Every church needs a pastor who understands this concept.
  • Grace, here, is not speaking of the grace that saves us (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace in this context is God’s impartation of ability to accomplish God’s will (imperative grace not indicative grace), specifically as it relates to ministry within the Church.
  • Churches, this church, needs a pastor who understands that the grace of God, without measure, is available for our sanctification…

2. A Team Player.  And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (v. 11) ‘Ascension Gifts’

  • Jesus was THE Apostle, THE Prophet, THE Evangelist, THE Pastor, and THE Teacher – and when He ascended into heaven He sent us His Holy Spirit as well as multiplying leadership of the Church into team ministry – a plurality of leaders (plurality means plural, or more than one).
  • A man who understands who he is and who he is not.
  • Apostle – Sent one
  • Prophet – Discernment (telescope)
  • Evangelist – A missional heart for the lost
  • Pastor – A shepherd’s heart
  • Teacher – A passion for God’s Word (microscope)

 3. An Equipper (vs. 12-13)

  • Greek word: katartismos, which means to adjust (as in a carburetor) or to mend.
  • Too repair and prepare God’s people.
  • Equippers set up systems that lead people to maturity.  How do we define maturity?
  • Unity of the faith
  • Knowledge of the Son of God
  • (A mature man)
  • Measure of the stature that belongs to the fullness of Christ (always room for growth – we never arrive this side of heaven).
  • D.L. Moody had an equipping perspective: He once said that he would rather put a thousand men to work than do the work of a thousand men.

4. A Man Who Will Speak the Truth In Love (v. 15)

  • Truth – A passion for God’s Truth…
  • Love – A shepherd’s heart…

5.  A Man Who Builds Unity Through Understanding Diversity (“Whole Body” thinker…) (v. 16)

  • Systems thinker.  Consider the human body…
  • Disease vs. Dis-ease…a systems issue
  • Unity is not a goal, it’s a fruit…

CONCLUSION  — What is a pastor looking for in you?

1. A congregation whose members live their lives as active, intentional followers of Jesus Christ. (Philip­pians 2:2-3):

2. Here’s what I always ask for from church leaders:

  • Humble
  • Own your own issues
  • Team player

3. Ask God everyday to give you His heart for lost and broken people. Jesus never says to the poor, “Go find the church,” but He says to those of us in the church, “Go out and find the poor, lost, sick, and broken hearted” and bring them to the church.

Besides this, consider the following three specific sugges­tions to build your pastor up and increase the fruitfulness of SBF’s ministry.

a. Pray for him every day. Write it down so you don’t forget. And don’t just say, “God bless the pastor.” Be specific. Pray for his health, his messages, his family, his flaws and weaknesses. Put yourself in his place and try to feel with him as you pray.

b. Go out of your way to communicate gracious words of encouragement. Don’t lie or embellish, but seek to identify encouraging attributes.  Write him a note on the registration card, send a thank you note or email; call him up on the phone. Get him alone sometime, look him right in the face, and say, “I appreciate your work and I am praying for you every day.” Don’t be satisfied with platitudes at the door after Sunday services.

c. Speak truth in love. No one is completely satisfied with his or her pastor. The reason is that all people are imperfect. Some people never seem to learn this and hop from church to church in search of the flawless pastor. That’s a hopeless endeavor. It is far better to find a church where you feel at home and to consider it your life­long responsibility to help the pastor grow. Everyone would like to change something about his or her pastor, but how many of us have devoted ourselves to earnest prayer about our pastor’s areas of growth and development? And how many of us have spent sufficient time in prayer and substantive encouragement, so that when it is time to share a concern that it is sincerely spoken in love (Eph 3:15).

[1] Kara Powell, quoted in The Church in Transition.

[2] LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention: 2010.

Preparing For A New Pastor


1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

For the next two Sundays we’re going to be looking at what you can do to prepare for a permanent pastor.

  1. Today we will consider what you as a church can do.
  2. Next week we will consider what to expect from him.

Before we look deeper into our passage for today I want to tell you that the greatest gift you can give to a permanent pastor is your commitment to learning, giving, and growing in the gospel of grace.

  • God’s grace, which comes to us through faith, seems too good to be true.  One person said, ‘God’s grace is free, but we still don’t buy it!’
  • It seems way too easy. The truth is, grace is that easy.  Or, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, grace is free but not cheap.
  • Grace is not in short supply.  But people who know how to receive it are.
  • My best definition of grace: All that God is, lavishly poured into you.

Let’s look at some context for our passage for this morning – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

  • The first three chapters of 1 Thessalonians are looking back and chapters 4 and 5 are looking forward.
  • 1 Thess. 5:1-11 is a declaration regarding the return of Jesus Christ.  Paul calls it the “day of the Lord” in vs. 2.
  • And vs. 11 sets up vs. 12-22: “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
  • Notice that these are the things that the church is to be doing with, for, and to one another…
  • This is a passage focused on Christian conduct – how Christians are to relate to each other. (Let’s look at it on the screen.)

Contained in these 11 verses are 17 commands – or imperatives in vs. 12-22.

Now, there is a key phrase that opens up the passage and helps us to distinguish between a gospel-centered application and a moralistic application.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that we see this.

What does it mean to be “in Christ Jesus”?  (This is EXTREMELY important and, as I said, it will distinguish between a moralistic interpretation of Scripture and a gospel-focused, or gospel-centered, interpretation.)

  • To be “in Christ Jesus” is the sovereign work of God: “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
  • We find ourselves “in Christ Jesus” through a response of faith:
  • “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:17a)
  • “We live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20c)
  • “You were also raised up with Him through faith” (Colossians 2:12b)
  • We activate grace (God’s strength and power) through:
      • Honest confession – Own your own issues.  We are more depraved tan we ever realized and simultaneously more loved than we ever dared imagine.
      • A lifestyle of repentance — Luther: “The whole life of believers should be repentance.”
      • Worship – Focus more on what Jesus Christ has done than what we ‘should’ do.


With this understanding/perspective of a gospel- or Christ-centered vantage point (or activation point), let’s look at the imperatives (commands) listed in verses 12-22…

These verses revolve around how active, intentional followers of Jesus Christ are to relate to one another.

There will be four C’s: Caring, Connecting, Communicating, and Conducting…

1. Caring for our leaders (1 Thess. 5:12-13):

    • Appreciate those who diligently labor among you
      • Value, believe the best about, and respect those whom God has placed in positions of authority.
      • How do we influence those placed in positions of authority over us?  Honor them publically and they will welcome your input privately.)
    • Esteem them very highly in love [agape].  Lust is getting, love is giving…
    • Live in peace with one another.
      • When the members of the church lovingly support, respect, and follow those whom God has appointed to lovingly lead them it will promote “peace” in the church.
      • When faithful and hardworking leaders are esteemed and respected in the church, the result will be peace, harmony, and unity within the church.

2.  Connecting with each other (1 Thess. 5:14-15):

  • Admonish the unruly
    • “Lean into” those who are living undisciplined lives.
    • The term ‘unruly’ is actually a word employed in military contexts to indicate “the soldier who does not keep in the ranks.”[1]
  • Encourage the fainthearted
    • These are the spiritually discouraged who must be lovingly consoled.
    • Remember, this is not Daniel’s, Dave’s, or Andy’s responsibility – this is your responsibility…
  • Help the weak — Those who lack spiritual strength against the forces of temptation should be continually held up and lovingly supported by those who are stronger (at the moment).
  • Be patient with everyone
    • The Greek word literally means to be “long tempered.”
    • Patience is a developed inner strength and resilience that allows us to hold out under the weight of a heavy burden.
    • Patience, then, becomes a manifestation of love that helps us to hang-in there with those who are “irritating and burdensome.”[2]
  • See that no one repays another with evil for evil
    • This is a practice of non-retaliation.
    • We leave it to God retaliate.
  • Seek after that which is good for one another and for all people
    • We are to work for the benefit and well being of others.
    • Jeremiah 29:7: “Seek the welfare of the city, for in its welfare you will have welfare.”

3.  Communicating with God (1 Thess. 5:16-18):

  • Rejoice always
    • Live your lives in the atmosphere of praise to God.
    • You may be going through some difficult circumstances but what do you have to be thankful and grateful for?
    • Remember, the gospel invites us to find our joy, comfort, and delight in Jesus Christ.
  • Pray without ceasing
    • This means to carry an attitude of prayer with us through the day.
    • It’s a continually unfolding realization of our dependence on God for all that we have and are.
  • In everything give thanks
    • I looked up the word “everything” in the Greek; do you know what it means?  Everything.
    • God invites us to be thankful even in difficult times – turning to Him and asking Him what He is trying to teach us – or prepare us for — through our circumstances.

4.  Conducting ourselves with wisdom (1 Thess. 5:19-22):

  • Do not quench the Spirit
    • This means that we are to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
    • Be open to new ways of doing things…
  • Do not despise prophetic utterances
    • A prophetic utterance is God’s word for the moment.
    • There are two Greek words for the word “word”: Logos and Rhema
      • Logos refers to the written word of God in its totality.
      • Rhema refers to the word of the Lord for now.  And it should be noted that rhema words will never contradict the logos.
      • Here are a couple of examples:
        • The overriding goal of sermons are that they are to be rhema words to the congregation.
        • The Bible instructs us in the qualities we are to look for in a spouse – but nowhere in the Bible did it tell me to ask Linda to marry me.  That was a rhema word from God – confirmed by those I trusted in the Lord.
    • Last year through a series of all-church summits we determined that SBF is a “non-charismatic continuationist congregation,” meaning that while we don’t believe that speaking in tongues is the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit, we do believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-10 are for today.
        • Continuationist vs. Cessationist (continuing vs. ceasing).
        • We are to make room for words of wisdom and knowledge, for extraordinary faith, for healing, miracles, prophesy, discernment – and even tongues.
            • I suspect that the tongues and interpretation of tongues that Paul refers to in 1 Cor 12:10 had some significant cultural implications
            • And they are certainty not for corporate ecstasy according to 1 Cor 14.
            • Paul clearly states that he spoke in tongues in 1 Cor 14:18, but he also indicates it is primarily for his personal and private devotional life.
            • I just think there has been a lot of really bad teaching on this topic – on both sides of this issue.
  • But examine everything carefully – In Acts 17:11 Luke writes about the Bereans who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”
  • Hold fast to that which is good – or that which has come from God.
  • Abstain from every form of evil
    • This final injunction means we are to separate ourselves from any form evil.
    • “Doctor, doctor I broke my arm in 14 places.”  “Well, don’t go in them places…”


As we close let’s read the final verses in 1 Thess. 5…

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely [it’s God who does the work]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass [again, it’s through God’s calling and transforming power that we are changed].

25 Brethren, pray for us.

26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

[1] Morris: 100.

[2] Wanamaker: 198.

Soul Shift #6 — Hallowed Be Your Name


We are in a series entitled “Soul Shift.”  We have bounced around a bit, but our intent is to work our way through Matthew 6:9-13. What’s been called the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ – or, the ‘Model Prayer.’  Our objective – as individuals, as couples, as community groups, and as a church is to move from ordinary prayer to extraordinary prayer.

Here are the most important principals we have learned so far about prayer:

  1. Gospel-centered (or, Christ-centered) prayer is less about petition and more about worship and adoration.  (The focus is on what Christ has done.)
  2. Prayer is not as much about trying to get God to do what we think He should do, as it is about learning to want what God already wants (i.e., prayer changes us).
  3. Probably the most important aspect of a high-quality prayer life is viewing God as a loving, kind, and adoring Father. 

By way of review, The Lord’s Prayer is made up of nine parts:

  1. The address: Our Father in heaven…
  2. There are seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer[1]:
  3. The first three are majestic and Godward:
      1. Hallowed be Your Name
      2. Your kingdom come
      3. Your will be done
  4. The following four petitions are a bit mundane and every-day ordinary – yet necessary:
      1. Give us this day our daily bread – “God, I look to you daily for my provision…”  Pastor and theologian Arthur Pink calls this, “Providing grace.”[2]
      2. Forgive us of our sins.  This is a longing for the grace to prevent us from repeating our (besetting) sins.  Pink: “Pardoning grace.”
      3. Lead us not into temptation.  This is an acknowledgement of our weaknesses and our inability to stand apart from God’s strength and power.  Pink: “Preventing grace.”
      4. Deliver us from evil.  Pink: “Preserving grace.”
  5. The Prayer concludes with a doxology – or, an ascription of praise to the One addressed: “For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”

Here’s what we know so far from the address and opening petition: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your Name” (v.9):

The word “Our” is important for two reasons:

1. “Our” is a reference to Jesus inviting us into His Trinitarian relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. 

    • Jesus, who is teaching the disciples to pray, is the Second Member of the Trinity.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have dwelled together in infinite relational harmony for all eternity.
    • Some theologians, including (the 7th century) John of Damascus,[3] C.S. Lewis,[4] and (more recently) Tim Keller[5] have suggested that this relationship is like a dance, with each member of the Trinity deferring to and delighting in the Other.
    • The idea is that we have been invited into this dance as we enter into relationship with God.  We’ll come back to this idea of ‘dance’ a bit later…

2. A second implication of the word “our” 2,000 years after Jesus taught the disciples is an invitation to consider and celebrate the wider and historical family of God. 

    • We want to be particularly cognizant of those who have been martyred for there faith.
    • Current estimates are that just under 160,000 people a year lose their lives for the sake of the gospel.[6]
    • Again, THE most important thought/perspective that will lead us to a dynamic, extraordinary prayer life is viewing God as a loving and adoring Father.

And in this opening salvo of the Lord’s Prayer we want to view “heaven,” not as a destination, but as a perspective – a viewpoint.  Our Father sees and knows all things…

Now we come to the first petition: “Hallowed be Your Name”…

The word “hallowed” means ‘to make holy’ and signifies to set God apart as perfected in holiness.

This phrase is a plea that God would do something about His name. It is a plea that God would cause His name to be ‘hallowed’ in our hearts and in the hearts of all people.

John Piper has said, “We can tell how our theology is changing by the way our prayers are changing.”

The first and most important thing that Jesus instructs us to ask God to do—the most central, the most supreme is to ask God to cause His Name to become supremely valuable in the hearts and minds of all people.

I would like to drill-down on one of the implications of this word “hallowed,” this concept of declaring the fame of God’s name, to segue into some teaching on worship.

I believe that it’s important for us, as a church, to consider the role of worship in our lives – and in our Sunday gatherings.  I’d like to start a 30,000 feet and then move toward some very practical application for SBF…


6 basic (overlapping) principles regarding worship:

  1. Simply stated, worship is the activity of glorifying God in His presence with our voices, our hearts,[7] and our bodies.  The gospel call is a call to worship – to turn from sin a call upon the name of the Lord.
  2. As we have said repeatedly over the last couple of years – the primary purpose for gathering on Sundays is to worship God. 
      1. We worship Him with singing (this is intended to get our emotions involved), through prayer, through confession, through the giving of tithes and offerings, through engaging Chrsit in the Scriptures, and through celebrating communion (Eucharist).
      2. All forms of fellowship are secondary…
  3. At the deepest level every human being on the planet is created for worship. But this instinct, this impulse, has been corrupted by the sin nature.
      1. Jonathan Edwards spoke of ‘religious affections’ — the core of our being that orients our mind, will, and emotions toward an object.  But the sin nature causes our affections to stray, propelling us toward lesser worship relationships such as, achievement, work, food, sex—many things other than God.
      2. Biblically speaking, these things are idols.  (An idol is when we turn a good thing into an ultimate thing.
      3. **Worship is pulling our affections off our idols and refocusing, or reorienting, them toward God.
  4. The word ‘worship’ comes from the old-English word ‘woerthship’ and means to ascribe to God the worth He deserves.
  5. Worship is about treasuring God.  Job says in 23:12b, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
  6. Worship has two parts:
      1. Seeing the worth of God.
      2. Giving (surrendering?) to God what He is worth.
      3. All worship, private and corporate, must have those two elements.

Something that is very important for us to keep in mind as we move forward is that ‘worship’ and ‘mission’ (or evangelism) are two overlapping concepts that are impossible to untangle.

Here is a well-worn quote from John Piper’s book, Let the Nations Be Glad:

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Mission exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.  It is a temporary necessity…But worship abides forever.” 

Passion for God in worship precedes mission — because we cannot commend what we do not cherish.

How these (6) principles relate to SBF:

It’s time to move from a settler mindset to a missional mindset.  Authentic worship fuels mission.  The Great Commandment (Mat 22:37) is the fuel of the Great Commission (Mat 28:18-19).  It is time to commend what we cherish – or, to cherish what we commend.

Music preference and style are not developed or described in the NT.

The closest we have is Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16, which both instruct us to Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”

And we would be hard-pressed to say what that would they have looked like 2,000 years ago.  Preference and style are not described in the NT because they is not the point.

What we DO know is that different forms of art open different doors into our souls. But each form must have at its core true worship – seeing and responding to God’s worth.

What we are seeing around the country is that the worship wars are largely over.  Churches, young and older, want what can be called a blended worship style that mixes contemporary with (primarily) contemporized hymns.  There is a shared longing around the country for a greater theological depth in worship music.

Having said that, the repetitive and more contemplative songs are just as important as the rich theological songs.  Repetition and contemplation are good for the soul.  I have a daughter that used flash cards for the basis of her learning in middle school and high school and she graduated with a 4.6 grade-point average.  She’s gone on to earn a Master’s degree in Spiritual Formation and Leadership and she did it through repetition…

I believe it’s important that our hearts, our voices, and our bodies become involved in the worship service.  (Only at Patriots, Celtics, or Red Sox games?)

There are many, many passages that instruct us to lift-up our hands along with our hearts and our voices…

There are many passages that speak of us bowing down in worship…

There are even passages about dancing before the Lord…

And finally, at least for today, I would suggest that we view our Sunday morning worship experience like a dance.  There are three partners at any given time:

The leading partner is always God.  What does God want?  Can I ask you to be praying for the worship service weekly?  Pray for the band, pray for the one preparing the sermon, pray for those deciding about future sermon series,’ pray for the one (or ones) that are putting together the song list.

Another partner is whoever is leading the different parts of the worship service: We have a weekly host, we have a worship team to lift our affections toward God, and we have someone to exegete the Scriptures to help us to help us worship Christ in the text.

And we have the gathered congregation.  For those of us who lead different parts of the worship service it’s good for us to keep in mind Pro 27:23 – “Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds.”


Psalm 100

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise. [Tabernacle area and Temple]
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.

Joyful Noise

Ps 98:4 (KJV) — Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Lift Your Hands

Psalm 28:2 — Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.

Psalm 63:4 — So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.

Psalm 119:48 — And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes.

Psalm 134:2 — Lift up your hands to the sanctuary And bless the Lord.

Psalm 141:2 — May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.

Lamentations 3:41 — We lift up our heart and hands Toward God in heaven.

1 Timothy 2:8 — Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

Bow Down To Him

Exodus 34:8 — Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.

Psalm 45:11 — Then the King will desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him.

Psalm 95:6 — Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

Matthew 2:11 — After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 15:25 — But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

Matthew 28:9 — And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.

Revelation 19:4 — And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”

Romans 12:1 — Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

John 4:24 — God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Nehemiah 8:6 — Then Ezra blessed the Lord the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.


2 Sam 6 — 14 And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod.15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.

16 Then it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

17 So they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18 When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offering, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. 19 Further, he distributed to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, both to men and women, a cake of bread and one of dates and one of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed each to his house.

20 But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished.” 23 Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

1Cor 14:24-25 — But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.

[1] While many commentators limit the petitions to six, Arthur Pink adds a seventh – “deliver us from evil.”

[2] The Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, Baker Books 1979:123.

[3] Who described the Trinity as Perichorēsis (lit. ‘circle dance’).

[4] Mere Christianity, p. 152.

[5] The Reason For God, pgs 214-222.

[7] Grudem, Systematic Theology, Ch. 51.