Worship in a Selfie World

Worship in a Selfie World

Wow. God really met with us in worship tonight. The room was just so full of his presence. One of the most intense times of worship I have ever experienced.

This caption came across my Instagram notifications a few weeks back.

I was curious to see the photo this student had taken to commemorate his experience. I never would have expected a picture of a young man standing in front of a mirror in his bathroom with a bewildered smirk on his face.

Yet there he was, a duck-faced teenager staring at his bathroom mirror, smart phone in hand. What this had to do with how much he loved worshiping Jesus was a mystery to me.

This Is Our World

This is the world in which we live, the world of the selfie. The world where people take something that is not about them and make it about them through the lens of their camera.

Grown men pose with their best “Blue Steel” smolder while the tip of Paris’s breath-taking Eiffel Tower protrudes from the side of their heads like a tiny, awkwardly placed steel horn.

Teenage girls attempt their cutest look while a singular stone column of Rome’s ancient, awe-inspiring Colosseum is barely visible in the background.

We are not seeing the world through their eyes so much as seeing their eyes blocking the world.

Maybe I am alone here, but I would much rather see a picture of Niagara Falls than a face obstructing my view of it. Niagara Falls is not about us. It is majestic. It demands the full frame for viewers to feel even just a little taste of the awe of something grander than themselves.

Selfie-Type Worship

This is exactly what we are doing when we attempt to make corporate worship about us. Our sinful hearts want to fill up the frame of God’s glory with our faces. Our flesh wants to distract us from the infinite worth of a holy God who has invited us into his presence to behold him and be made like him.

This selfie type of worship constantly tries to infiltrate our churches, causing us to value sentiment over substance, emotional hype over emotional health, or musical preference over meaningful proclamation.

When the content of our songs and prayers are saturated with me-centered themes and thoughts, we are buying into the lie that worship is about us. To be sure, our faces are in the frame, but they are a spec of sand on the beach of a vast ocean of beauty and holiness. To focus on the spec would be silly, if not outright madness.

God-Focused Worship

When we gather for corporate worship, we are ascribing worth to the only worthy one, and lifting him to the place where he alone belongs, on the throne of our hearts.

As we do this, he is with us in a very real way. This is not a hypothetical situation — God is with us. There is no greater privilege on earth for the redeemed and adopted family of God than getting to stand in the presence of God and worship him in Spirit and truth through his Son.

In doing so, we are building up and encouraging one another, reminding our own hearts of who God is and what he has done, and proclaiming it to a world that desperately needs to see him for who he is.

This is neither done by singing about ourselves, nor obsessing over our preferential feelings.

He Must Increase

If we are going to learn to worship in a selfie world, we must continually look beyond our musical preferences, sentimental nostalgia, and contextual idealism, in order to gaze with wonder and awe at the character and acts of our mighty King and Savior.

We must saturate our services and songs with his word and wonder at his wisdom, will, wealth, works, and ways. He is the God who created planets and stars, and he holds them all in his hands. He made electrons and protons, atoms and elements, gravity and inertia. Everything that has been made was made by him and through him, and before any of its foundation was laid, he chose to redeem and adopt us in Christ. This is too massive to be minimized with me-centeredness.

May we all resist the temptation to fill the frame with our face, but rather fill our minds with his eternal glory, and never stop repeating the refrain of John 3:30:

“He must increase. I must decrease.”
“He must increase. I must decrease.”
“He must increase. I must decrease.”


More on corporate worship from Desiring God:

Stephen Miller is a worship pastor at The Journey Church in Saint Louis and author of the book Worship Leaders: We Are Not Rock Stars.