Head First: Worship...

Monday, March 03, 2008


is not:
-raising my hands.
-singing a song.
-coached nor manipulated.
-able to be observed as such.

-understanding and acknowledging that God is the source of everything.
-putting the needs of others ahead of mine.
-sacrificing myself in service to the Jesus I see in people.
-best exemplified in what James calls "pure and undefiled" religion (helping the helpless).

I say these things as a musician and as a former "worship leader" (I really dislike that term). I spent a number of years operating under some very well-meaning, but wrong-headed assumptions about what is pleasing to God. As I now stand, I find the things I once sought to achieve and to encourage in others are the very least part of what it means to worship.

Not that there's anything wrong with singing or making music. I love music (well, good music, anyway). I just don't want to get back to the place where I can work up a shiver and call it touching God. More and more, I'm learning to perceive the nearness of God in the everyday and ordinary stuff of life... in my marriage, in my kids, in my friends...

...and in those things, I taste the wonder of it all.


jefe said...

Many times, the things we refer to as "worship" are more aptly designated as "expressions of worship".

Similarly, a genuine smile is not joy. A furrowed brow is not anger. And a tearful, "I love you" is not love.

So why do we continue to assume a lifted hand is worship?

JimmyBob said...

Good thoughts. This is the kind of thing I'm trying to teach my students.

Jefe, I think you're comments are spot on as well. Worship encompasses many things.

In college (14 years ago) I took a class on Worship and our main textbook was The Worship of God by Ralph P. Martin.

He defines worship like this:

"Worship is the dramatic celebration of God in his supreme worth in such a manner that his 'worthiness' becomes the norm and inspiration of human living."

He then goes on in detail with chapters about praise, praying together, hymns and sacred songs, bringing an offering, confession of faith, the role of the sermon, baptism and Christian unity, communion, and honoring the Holy Spirit.

It's worth a read. Another great book on this subject (which I think you would really like Dorse, because of its chapter on God's house) is What Jesus Taught About Praise & Worship by Ken Blount.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

I used to lift my hands. After a while I couldn't understand why I was doing it. What was the point? So now I don't. Not because I think it's wrong or shouldn't be done, but because I don't understand it.

Also, one thing i wish more churches had the nerve to do is have an extended moment of silence.

Heather said...

Exactly! The praise = fast songs, worship = slow songs fallacy really needs to be thrown out.

Worship is not singing. Singing can be worship.

It should be so simple!

I did a few posts of my own about worship a while ago.

Part 1
Part 2 (well, basically a post from Cerulean Sanctum)
Part 3

I have so much more to say on the topic - I really should revisit it. I love your take on it, though, especially your definition of worship.

sandytrif said...

We sort of went over this in church on Sunday~using Psalm 100 as text.
some highlights:
Easential internal charateristics of worship;
Heads informed thinking rightly about God
hearts inflamed w/passion for the greatness of God
Essential Characteristics Of God we should worship
Know this God is God~He is who He is. I don't define who he is, He should define who I am
Know this God is good
he is for me, loves me (ps23).
Our outward expressions
Leads to humbly serve others
Serve God's enemies by bringing them the message of salvation.

Just some notes I wrote down

Mrs Zeke said...

Here is the thing we get so concerned with how everyone should look worshiping that we lose worship.

Church should be full no matter what music, shelter or comfort but could I even say I would be ok with zero comfort items... I don't know but part of me wants to go to that church so bad. I also want people to come in sweats, Pj's and tuxes all mixed together cause it does not matter no one care what anyone looks like.

I don't want anyone to know anything about one another except they are there to worship and thats all that matters.

I am not even sure it's possible but why do I seem to be searching for that very thing?

I love you Dorsey and so does God

pecheur said...

I am glad someone out there is saying these things.

A great reminder to find the nearness of God in the everyday goings and comings

JimmyBob said...

Today, we are going to worship God by painting our youth room.

Believe me - by painting the room, we show that we really love Him.

Painting reminds me of you Dorse. Wish I could have your steady hands today to do all the cut-ins.

Recovering said...

Good post, Dorsey. You and Jefe are right on.

societyvs said...

Great points Dorsey! I feel the same way about worship towards God - it's not just in what we can write and play (that's a minimal part) - it's how we work with the ideas of the teachings and how they find firm ground in our surrounding lives. I always thought the biggest honor we could give someone was to listen to their teachings (Note the Larry Norman blog) and say 'we like it so much we will acknowledge it'.

jefe said...

Read Richard Foster's chapter on Worship in "Celebration of Discipline". I just did today, and I found it very balanced on the subject.