Tillman Speaks About the Importance of Worship

PLAINVIEW – It had been a few years since Tom Tillman set foot in Harral Auditorium on the Wayland Baptist University campus. As a student from 1984-88 he spent plenty of time in the facility, rehearsing his music, singing in musical groups, practicing the piano and, of course, sitting through chapel. On Wednesday, Tillman, the director of music and worship for Texas Baptists, was back on the Harral stage, this time as the featured speaker for WBU’s weekly chapel service.

Tillman spoke on the importance of worship and understanding what worship is meant to be. He drew from Psalm 95 and Psalm 78 in which the author speaks about worshiping God and sharing that worship with all generations.

To illustrate his point of how America has drifted away from true worship, Tillman told the story of Sayyid Qutb who came to the U.S. in the 1940s and was stunned by an American culture that was consumed with worldly pursuits. People were more concerned with celebrity, status and stuff than with truly worshipping God. Qutb even went to church to find Christians who were devoted to a deep worship of God, only to be disappointed when he found that church was a social gathering of superficial people.

Qutb’s disdain for America and Christianity grew to the point that his writings spoke out against the American culture. Those writings became the formational texts for Al-Qaeda, a militant Islamic group.

Tillman said it’s important to understand what worship is meant to be. He said too often, people view worship as something to consume rather than something that shapes their lives.

“It’s ascribing a value to something that engages our whole self,” he said. “When we ascribe value to something weightier than ourselves, it rearranges our entire being. Worship is having our heart, soul, mind and strength rearranged by God, Himself.”

Tillman said it’s also important to understand the magnitude of who people should worship. The Psalms not only tell how to worship but why, painting God as the most valuable thing in people’s lives. Tillman’s final point was that worship should be shared among generations. Psalm 78 talks about hearing, listening and then telling the next generation so they can continue to pass it on to those generations that follow. Tillman said it’s okay to have a mix of old hymns and worship songs, to use an organ as well as a guitar and drums, and that each generation should embrace those worship trends that are different than what they prefer. Tillman said he has taken part in numerous styles of worship throughout his career, and he has seen just about everything there is to see. But, he said, it is possible to worship God in all settings.

“I have found that I can still worship the Lord when I put my preferences away,” he said.

In closing, Tillman challenged Wayland students to avoid getting caught up in “the superficiality of American culture that creeps into our churches.”

“Our hope,” he said, “is in something more valuable than we ever realized.”