Summary: An overview addressing the basic questions about Worship - What? Why? How? Where/When? Evaluating?
WONDERING ABOUT WORSHIP
Have you ever wondered, or perhaps wandered, about worship? What is the secret? The mystery? The correct form? The big deal? Why doesn’t everyone ’get it’ like I do? How does anyone ’get it’ at all – makes no sense to me!
Gordon Dahl has said, “Most middle-class Americans tend to worship their work, work at their play, and play at their worship.”
Leonard Sweet wrote that “Our pews are occupied by people who want to be moved, but who don’t want to move.”
A.W. Tozer described worship as “the missing jewel of the church.”
Most everyone seems to agree that worship is an important part of our spiritual lives, yet nobody wants to play in the same band, let alone instrument, let alone tune. I’ve been in a lot of different churches for a lot of different reasons in many states and a few countries. I’ve seen people so focused on reverent worship that to twitch the tiniest muscle even in response to the worst itch would be an abomination. And I’ve seen some so caught in reaching the highest possible states of emotion and demonstration that being near them was like standing in the middle of a crowd of people trapped in a burning and collapsing tower.
I’ve heard both extremes uncompromisingly proclaim that their way is the only way to truly worship. I can still remember being a young Christian exposed to so many forms and ideas about worship, and feeling so utterly confused, lost and at times even questioning my own ’spirituality.’
So, what are we to do? How are we to respond? Most of us do what comes naturally and seems most logical – we ignore it and embrace apathy and indifference instead! Let us instead, covenant to seek and to learn!
There’s a lot we can learn from the testimony of Pastor Bill Hall and an experience we can all relate to:
“In the midst of one church crisis concerning this issue I prayed, "Father, how should we worship You?" He answered using my own children to make the point.
The kids had been away at Grandma’s house for a few days and I missed them terribly. On my way home from work all I could think about was seeing them. As soon as the front door slammed behind me I heard the sound I had longed for. The sound of small feet on the wood floor--my children were coming to greet me.
The first to arrive was Alex--my soon-to-be four year old. He was running and jumping and yelling, "Daddy’s home, daddy’s home!" He ran to me with arms open and hugged my legs as hard as he could. I bent down and told him how much I loved him and had missed him. He gave me a kiss and was off to other adventures.
Following closely was Anthony, my seventeen-month old. He filled the house with a steady "Dada, dada, dada, dada." As he neared, he looked up at me and raised his hands as high as they would go as a sign for me to pick him up. When I did he took my face in his hands and looked deeply into my eyes for a moment, then patted my face and kissed me like only a toddler can. The squirming that followed was his signal that our special moment was over and in a flash he was gone.
Austin, my five year old, was not to be found in this parade so I conducted an immediate search of the house. Alone in his room he sat, tears rolling down his cheeks. He had done something he knew was wrong and was fearing the worst upon my arrival. As he talked about what he had done he began to cry uncontrollably saying, "I’m sorry...I’m sorry." I felt as if I couldn’t pick him up fast enough. I hugged and kissed him repeatedly and told him that I forgave him and would always love him no matter what. In no time we were playing and laughing as usual.
Each child’s response to my presence was correct considering their circumstance. It was honest and from the heart.
How should we worship in church? The answer will most likely change from week to week but can always be found by assessing the condition of our hearts.”1
What Is Worship? Romans 12:1-3
At it’s simplest, worship is an attitude and expression of the heart, an act of personal sacrifice or offering. It is any and every way in which we demonstrate genuine adoration and commitment to the Lord and give Him glory! It is any expression (emotional, physical, intellectual, and/or spiritual) by which one seeks to extend that he or she loves the Lord God absolutely – with all their heart, mind, soul, spirit and strength.