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Danger in defining Worship?

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:

  1. We want you to engage!– I know this one seems obvious, but I’ve come across some people who, I swear, seem as though worship pastors are trying to be solo artists and don’t want the congregation to be singing with them. Now, I’m sure there are some bad eggs who are in it for the wrong reason, but, trust me, most of them are not in it for the “glory and high pay”. Please don’t go to service with a critical spirit ready to tear apart the heart of the guy/girl who is doing her best to create an atmosphere conducive for the Spirit to move. If it didn’t “work” for you, check your heart before you grab the scalpel to dissect his/hers. It’s not their job to make sure you worship. It’s their job to “carry the arc” (read the book…so good)/usher in the presence.
  2. It’s not actually for you. – You’ve heard this before, but really let this sink in. This guy has considered you, has thought about how best to prepare the atmosphere with music as David did that will calm your spirit, so God can battle as little distractions as possible. But at the end of the day, corporate worship is not about or for you. The phrase “I really liked” or “hated the worship today” makes no sense. We all know what is meant, but the theology of it is flawed. You may think this is just semantics, but words matter. Words are how we carry thought and teaching to other people, namely younger believers. Words are important. Once you define “worship”, that phrase literally doesn’t make grammatical sense nor is it possible for someone else to affect your worship.
  3. Worship is not music. – I feel like someone is going to get mad at this one, but it must be said. I love music. I have sung since before I could speak. Music has always been part of my life and part of my worship, but it is not synonymous with it. I feel like this got really confused during the 90’s (maybe before but this is where my life experience has showcased it). It was with an absolutely fantastic heart that people went from calling the guy that led music in church the “music director/pastor” to the “worship pastor”. Why? Because that guy’s responsibilities shouldn’t be to just wave their hand and conduct a song but to usher in the presence of a Holy God. What he was doing held more spiritual authority than just music…it was worship. The only problem is, the only thing this guy was over was the music, so we taught the church that music and worship are the same things. They are not.

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.

Love,

the Grizzards

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We are a family of four just trying to figure out what our "new normal" looks like in Manhattan! I'm Kayla, a 29-year-old creative with a passion for theater and writing. Jordan is a musician and experience pastor with a heart that loves people. And we have two awesome little girls, Jozlyn and Kendall. Our house is crazy...always full of energy and laughter.... and we have no idea what we're doing! Help us figure it out as we go!

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I'm Kayla. Mom of two, wife of one and new New York transplant. We're a family of four fumbling our way through our new normal in Manhattan! We're excited to learn as we go... we can't mess this up too bad, right? :)

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