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Worship and Discipleshipsteort

By Ken Steorts


I’m a musician. I didn’t ask to be one, but I became one anyway. I played football in middle school, and I loved the outdoors. I was a great student, and I loved computers. But when I was 16 I bought a guitar from a friend and everything began to change.  I was ruined.


In my first year of college, however, I made the best decision in my life. I gave my messed up, musician life completely (although imperfectly) to Jesus.  I learned how to play a few chords commonly used in worship music, and I was soon playing in church. I eventually toured with a Christian rock group and helped lead worship with great musicians in churches across America. Along the way, I received two degrees in music. Worshipping God through music has been a major part of my life.


Jesus makes a strong connection between worship and discipleship.

  • “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-27)
  • “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.” (Luke 14:33-35)


The greatest impact on me regarding worship was my realization that Jesus calls me to die. Following Christ and authentic worship of God means that I must die to self. I offered my life to Christ that day in college, but I’ve been fighting to stay dead ever since. A songwriting student at Visible Music College wrote some lyrics that touch on my (and our) dilemma: “I can’t stay dead.”


I want to explore three points about worship as a priority in the daily life of disciples as opposed to (or in addition to) “worship” as a weekly service at church.


Hate your life. A lifestyle of worship involves total loyalty to our Savior and Lord.  Jesus uses the word “hate” – a strong word. As a follower of Jesus, I dare not focus on “my” own life and purpose. In comparison to loving and serving Jesus, I must hate my own life.  Jesus pleads with us to live worshipful lives that bring Him glory. The Holy Spirit indwells and empowers us to live abundant lives. We must die daily so our worship will be life to Him and from Him.


Count the cost. As we follow Jesus we can expect to experience the pain and rejection He experienced. Although evangelistic appeals sometimes understate this, there is a high cost for discipleship. A life of worship involves the daily pattern of laying down our lives in order to glorify Christ and serve others. Routinely we count the cost when we do strategic planning or go on a trip or prepare for new construction, but in considering our journey with Jesus, it is easy to overlook the price tag. The cost is death. 


I’m reminded of a story that I am not sure is real, but it always gets to my heart. When a young boy heard that his sister needed his type blood in order to survive a medical crisis, he lovingly offered to share. During the transfusion, the boy started saying goodbye to his mom. The compassionate mother replied, “Don’t worry, honey. This won’t hurt too badly, and we’ll go get ice cream later.” Somewhat startled, the boy innocently asked, “Oh, I don’t have to give her all my blood?” This loving brother was willing to lay down his life in order that his sister might live. He counted the cost and made a commitment.


A life of worship involves the daily pattern of laying down our lives in order to glorify Christ and serve others.


Align your purpose. Like salt, the purpose of a disciple is to preserve life and bring “flavor” to others. Jesus has a purpose for each of us. A purpose that includes changing our world as we demonstrate and announce the love of God.


To fulfill our purpose as disciples, we must humbly submit our whole lives to Christ through worship and service each day. This is exactly what Paul addressed in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”


Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes Christian disciples as God’s visible community that infiltrates darkness and brings light into the world. As this visible community, the Church, Christ calls us think outside of ourselves on behalf of others. The fruition of this worshipful faithfulness is compassionate service to the world.


Welcome to 2015. This is a good time to evaluate your life, consider the cost of discipleship, and realign your life with the purpose of God. Let’s Be Visible!


About the Author

Dr. Ken Steorts is the founder and president of Visible Music College in Memphis, Tennessee and founding guitarist of the Grammy-nominated band Skillet. Ken left Skillet in 1999 to build Visible, an accredited, undergraduate institution of higher education in music, music production, and music business for artists, musicians, worship leaders, audio technicians, music business professionals, and ministry bands. Ken wife Joy live in Memphis with their two sons, Freedman (14) and Skye (11). 


A Word from James

I deeply appreciate Ken’s understanding of worship, discipleship and mission. FollowOne is happy to partner with Visible as they equip worship leaders around the world to communicate the Good News and launch new worshipping communities. Is there some way FollowOne can help you, your children and your church use the blessings of God to serve lost and hurting people?  


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