Tuesday, April 26, 2011

So...what is worship?

     As a worship leader for the past 12 years, I’ve had numerous opportunities to talk with people about the broad and sometimes ambiguous subject of worship. Within those conversations, I’ve frequently encountered a common misconception about corporate worship within the Christian church: that worship somehow only involves the action of singing songs. If this were true, there would be many that would be left as outsiders, unable to fully participate because of tonal deficiencies or lack of musical skill. Singing comes as a challenge to many, so it’s easy to see how this perception of the nature of worship would make the entire issue rather frustrating. The dance of worship is, in fact, much richer and broader in scope than solely musical expression. It involves the totality of our being and requires action on our part but not just with our mouths or vocal chords.
     Worship is unique in that its direction is three-fold. It involves examining and revisiting the past with a spirit of gratitude for all God has done for us. It requires an awareness of God’s activity and his grace and mercy toward us in the present, and it compels us to expectantly fix our attention on the future hope we have in his promise to restore and recreate all things.
      As ministers and leaders it is our intent to highlight the worshiping nature of every action and element that comprises our corporate gatherings so that God receives glory in all that we do and our attention and affections are continually directed toward him. We recognize the presence of Christ among us as we greet each other in the name of the Lord. We identify the work of the Spirit when we give public testimony about His grace, provision, and mercy. We commemorate his death and its ushering in of a New Covenant when we take Communion. We praise Him for His glorious and mysterious redemptive work through history as we read and preach the Holy Scriptures. We celebrate the new life He has given and the community of believers that we’re born into when we witness a baptism. All these actions and hundreds more make up the worship of God by His Church. Our “liturgy”, this dance of worship, is something that cannot be contained or condensed into merely the songs that we sing before the sermon. Our lives, our hearts, our bodies, and our spirits are all living, pulsating components of the worship of our God.