Danger in defining Worship?
Danger in defining Worship?
I was originally going to title this post What your worship pastor really wants you to know, but I am not a worship pastor, don’t speak for all worship pastors. I am married to a worship pastor, but I don’t even pretend to speak for him. So this is just the passions of a woman who loves to worship God and is heartbroken when people misunderstand what worship is for what we can more easily understand.
If you ever engage Jordan or me in conversation for more than about 10 minutes, our faith is probably going to come up. It’s just something that drives us and has become entwined with our DNA. We see this as nothing but a positive thing. It helps us have compassion, generosity, love, humility, grace, and patience… all of these attributes are not ones that come completely naturally to me, for sure. And don’t get me wrong…. we are far from perfecting these actions, but we are working on it.
One thing that has helped me is to stay intellectually motivated by a good library of books. I am proud (and shocked) to say that I have recently (very recently) become a lover of books! Why this love did not develop in high school I will never know! It would have been very helpful in getting through Oscar Wilde. I love authors like Francine Rivers, Gail McWilliams, Tim Keller, and, of course, Josh McDowell. Recently, we’ve been absolutely obsessed with a book by Zachary Neese out of Gateway called HOW TO WORSHIP A KING
We took our last team through this book, and the kind of discussion that was brought out due to its content was humbling. It’s provocative and unafraid. It dares to ask questions of our thought processes and traditions. It challenges you on what you think of when you hear the word “worship”. What worship is and isn’t. Is there danger in defining it? Is there danger in NOT defining it? Why do people care so deeply about it in our churches?
“Worship” is a very controversial concept. Whenever change is considered to the “worship”, people get very upset. Why? Why is it that the worship seems to cause so much conflict within the walls of the church? But what is meant by “changes to the worship”? Most of the time, it’s referencing changes to the music style or atmosphere. We have all heard “worship is a lifestyle”, but is that true? And what does it even mean? If it means, it’s anything we do with pure hearts in motives… is that biblical worship? Or something else?
Though, I know well intentioned, I hate this catchphrase. It does nothing to further our understanding of worship. It was intended to encourage believers to live a life focused on God, but what it’s become is to believe that everything you do FOR God is worship. And that is just not true…biblically. We can do a lot of great things for God. We can praise, we can serve, we can teach, we can pray, but there is an actual definition of “worship” and, I would say, that actual “worship” is something that makes a lot of believers incredibly uncomfortable and so not done often.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… leave a comment.
Here are a couple things that have really stood out to me when speaking with worship pastors:
Worship in scripture was a physical posturing before a Holy God. It actually meant “to bow”. (To learn all the usages and meaning, please read the book…can not recommend it enough) Now, before someone says that that does not mean that you cannot worship in music, let me say…of course you can. But it is by no means synonymous with the word. When you can understand that your worship is not affected by the music because you can reflect on God’s character and nature no matter if there is a rock band or an organ playing, then we can stop the battle happening on both sides of the proverbial aisle. Everybody has a preference of music. My husband is trained in opera and sang in a metal band. He would sooner put on some band I refuse to name because I don’t like it enough to remember the name than my Broadway stuff. That’s just a preference of style. There can be no music at all and we can reflect on how holy God is. If you CANNOT WORSHIP due to the style played…that is a reflection of your heart, not the “worship”. No leader can affect your response to God…it is solely your choice to worship Him or not.
My husband was encouraged to write a philosophy of worship in college. We’ve spent many times in the car (when we had one) talking about it. I’m sure it will be ever changing but here’s what God has brought me to today:
I think when we are in a space to understand the awesomeness of God, we will have no choice but to fall on our face in worship.
If you are someone who has ever been frustrated at the music or the leader or been that leader, I seriously encourage you to read the book.