Forget About Singing, God Wants Us to Worship Him HIS way

What is worship and how do we as christians go about doing it?  Is it the 30-45 minutes we spend singing at church with others each week?  Is it the 20-35 minutes we spend listening to a sermon at that same gathering?  Is it the money we contribute to our congregations to keep the doors open?  Is worship the time we give to volunteer in the parking ministry or Children’s church?

Let me state as clearly as I can, so that there is no misunderstanding: I think that all the things I just mentioned can unequivocally be considered acts by which people worship God. I just don’t think that doing them necessarily equals worship.  I am not advocating that we stop singing, even though the title of this post might lead to that conclusion.

My friends, I have been giving this a lot of thought lately.  In part, because I have become so disillusioned with the contemporary church model that claims to be all about worship.  I’ve been to 30+ different congregations, all focused on “worship”.  It seems that all we are doing is singing songs and calling that worship.  Worship appears to have become an event that we grade or a product we consume.  Does anyone else find that troubling?

People are always defining worship.  Most start off their definition with some form of the following statement:  “Worship is more than a song….”.  I find this very misleading.  It is as if we are saying that worship is primarily about the song, but it’s also more than that.  Is it?  Does the Bible anywhere define worship as a song one sings?  Wouldn’t it be more accurate to state that the biblical record makes very little mention of worship as a song?  If biblical worship does not even remotely resemble a song we sing, why do we in the contemporary church dedicate so much time, space and money to it?  Why do we spend so much time debating it and fighting over it?  Why are we tearing churches apart because of it?  I suspect it has more to do with what we like and what we want more than our commitment to shape our lives by the bible.

What  troubles me the most about this concept of worship as a song is that it cheapens worship.  It minimizes it.  It makes it an event we can check in and out of, rather than a life we constantly strive to live.

I have written about this in other posts like Does God Care How We Worship?, Worship Leader Make-Over:  Defining the Goal of a Worship Leader, Blasphemy! If You Want the Congregation to Worship More, Try Singing Less, and Does God Give Us Freedom To Worship Him Anyway WE Want to?  and many others.  If this topic interests you, give them a read and then subscribe to this blog so you will be notified of new articles as they are posted.  .

Those of you who read this blog know that I am a full-time musician (a guitar player no less) who loves music. I love singing about our Savior, who He is and what He has done on our behalf. I am glad that God gave us the gift of music and have no problem with it being utilized in worship.  Still, I am troubled by the direction “worship” is taking.  Perhaps you are too.  Feel free to jump into the discussion and share your own take on this topic.

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About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on September 11, 2011, in Christianity, Contemporary Church Culture, Theology, Worship and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Brother what can I say in response accept that you are right. I have spoken often about this very topic myself. Sadly, much of the response I continue to receive is from “Christians” who feel their traditions are bring threatened. They miss or disregard the fact of Jesus saying “in truth and in spirit.”. To never truly experience worshipping God is to truly miss out on communion with Him. He desires our whole heart, not just our talents and our talents and our time. There are many who sing well and give of their talent wholeheartedly, but still dont love God. There are those who volunteer and serve for the greatest causes with all their time, but still dont love God

    It is the heart of the believe the Lord is after. It is from our heart that true worship is generated and overflows into everything else we do. Paul instructed, whatever our hands find to do, do unto the glory of God. Worship doesnt begin with a song. Worship is of the heart and supercedes emotions, deeds and thoughts.

    In a practical sense, let us begin to strive past the music and programs of our local churches to first devote our hearts to Him in the quietness of our home when we arise in the morning. Let us spend time with Him, listening to Him through His written Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us and shape our hearts. Let us focus on and examine the condition of our hearts that we may worship Him wholly and holy (1 Cor. 13).

    Thanks for the post Jim. Keep that heart for Him. Turn neither to the lelft nor to the right, but walk in His way. Much love for you and praying with you. L J

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  2. Very good post. I agree with everything you said in it. I have already mentioned the church we left with the multiple worship teams. Let me give you a little more history of what happened there. Besides the things I mentioned in my previous comment, the church went to all in-ear monitors. We each were going to have to buy our own monitors by the end of the year in 2010 or we had to find a different ministry to be in. When my husband and I discussed it with the pastor (who is also the head of the worship arts & chief worship leader) I explained to him that 1st of all I didn’t feel like we should have to cheerlead people into worship. That you either came in in an attitude of worship or you didn’t. 2nd that after being told to make sure and smile & act like we were having a good time or the congregation wouldn’t want to worship that being on the teams was just not as enjoyable as before, that it was too stressful. My husband tried to explain why we didn’t think we needed to go to the in-ears but the pastor already had his mind made up. When I had explained to the pastors wife that my husband really felt like we were given an ultimatum when told to either have them by the end of the year or find a different ministry she didn’t agree, just said that was the way it was going to be. I was also told that (I won’t name the church) their worst sound was better than all the other churches (in town) best sound. That struck me as very prideful.
    I have seen one of the lead worship leaders cower when given a certain look by this pastor. At one time the teams were in unity but everything changed when in November of 2009, Andrew Ironside & a team of musicians came from Hillsongs to do a worship workshop at the church.
    I’m sorry this was so long but I could go on and on about what we’ve seen in the “seeker sensitive” & “emergent” church we came out of. They are part of the “apostolic reformation movement” also.

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