Who is the Hero of Your Worship Set?

2014 Doxology and Theology Conference


We never begin worship, we aim it at greatness. Where are you aiming your congregation in worship? In this 18-minutes session from the 2014 Doxology and Theology Conference, Matt Papa challenges worship leaders to make Jesus the hero of their worship set. 

Matt is a singer, songwriter, and worship leader who currently serves as Artist in Residence at The Summit Church. In 2009, his album Your Kingdom Come charted #46 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums and #33 on the Top Heatseekers chart. 


Numbers 21:4-8 (ESV)

The Bronze Serpent

4From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way.5And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.”6Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.7And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.8And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


2 Kings 18:4 (ESV)

4He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


John 3:14 (ESV)

14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Matt used the story of the bronze serpent to illustrate that we must never worship the act of worship, the tools of worship or lead others to glorify those who are leading worship.

It was the sin of unbelief that caused the the Israelites to be discouraged and murmur against Moses. And God sent the fiery, biting serpents as a consequence of their unbelief. The serpent on the stick was a reminder of their sin, and it was an act of faith and God's plan for anyone to be healed who came to see the bronze serpent. What was an image on the stick later became "the stick" as the bronze serpent became an object of worship. In other words, what was originally a tool for worship became an object of worship as we read in 2 Kings. 

Matt said, that we never begin worship, we aim it at greatness. Where are you aiming the congregation to worship? What does that look like?
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As we see in John 3, it is Jesus we must lift up to the congregation. Who or what is the hero of your worship set? Is it the song, your energy, an emotional moment, an awed response from congregation, a powerful liturgical reading? Or is it Jesus Christ, the Son of God? How do you know?
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Worship is a call for people to gaze on the glory of the gospel. Matt said that a good way to figure out what you are gazing at is to ask yourself these questions: When you walk off the stage, what are you thinking about? What are you worried about? What are you hoping for?
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Matt said, "disordered loves lead to disordered lives." His challenge included an honest admission that his heart "can go quickly from worshipping Jesus to worship (the idea and act of) worshipping Jesus." What will you take away from Matt's challenge and incorporate in your own heart and worship?
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In his final reflection, Matt read from The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis: "Every poet and musician [and worship leader and pastor] but for grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells to love of the telling. Till down in deep hell they can not be interested in God at all but only what they say about him." 

You are not what you do. "Define yourself radically as a beloved child of God. Every other identity is an illusion." ~ Brennan Manning


For more information about the Doxology and Theology Conference and how you can attend an upcoming event, visit: DoxologyandTheology.com