Some Thoughts About Worship…

Worship can speak of two distinct matters: It means to hold in high regard with extravagant honor and devotion. This comes from the Greek word LATREUO, which literally means to render service or homage. Worship also refers to the formal act of expressing reverence and praise. In this instance, the Greek root is PROSKUNEO, which literally means, to kiss toward. It means to make obeisance or do reverence by specific actions prompted by a desire and intent to honor God. Thus, one might think of Christian worship assemblies as special gatherings of those who seek to render service to God with their lives (LATREUO) for the purpose of honoring God through certain acts of obeisance (PROSKUNEO).

Worship is multifaceted. It is an expression of faith in God at the same time that it is a faith-building experience. Through worship Christians are edified and edify others. In worship we express thanksgiving to God for our own salvation and proclaim the basis of that salvation to those who seek the Savior. Thus, while worship is primarily an expression of reverence directed to God, it should, also, dramatically impact the lives of all who participate.

Researchers are rediscovering this important factor in the dynamics of church growth. John Ellas, of the Center for Church Growth, reports the results of a comprehensive study of both growing and declining congregations in his book Clear Choices for Churches. He found that when asked, “What one characteristic attracted you most to come to this congregation?” in growing churches a significantly higher percentage of respondents indicated that the number one factor was the worship assembly. Consequently, he states: “The worship assembly’s ability to attract new members was the number one growth factor” for growing churches of Christ. (Clear Choices, p. 58)

Thus, in order that we might offer truly God-honoring worship and engage in expressions of worship which effectively edify one another and serve as a beacon for Christ-seekers to follow, let us look again at God’s design and desire for our worship assemblies.

In John 4:23-24 Jesus says, …A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Notice the design. True worship is directed by and towards God. Drawing near to God is the priority of worship; rather than expressing human preferences. In fact, worship which does not respect these parameters is, in my estimation, vain worship (cf. Mark 7:6-9). Jesus further stipulates that true worship is: In Spirit—the Realm, which means it is in accord with God’s nature; and, In Truth—the Reality, which means it is in accord with God’s will.

Thus, while professing faith in God who is spirit and exists in the spiritual realm and exhibiting an overflowing desire to experience the reality of God, Christians gather to:

– Stimulate one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24);

– Teach and admonish one another through the gift of song and singing (Colossians 3:16);

– Display our faith in God and unity in purpose by financial contributions which are intended to be used to extend Christ’s kingdom influence (2 Corinthians 8 – 9);

– Share in remembering our precious Savior and His sacrifice by observing the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:24-29);

– Honor God in a time of hearing the Word of God proclaimed, being instructed in His ways and challenged to live holy lives for Him (2 Timothy 4:2 and Titus 2:12).

There is a marvelous dual quality in Christian worship. While worship is first directed upwards towards God, it is also designed by God to reach outward towards others. Its reach is both vertical and horizontal. As illustrated by the fact that while singing praises to God, we teach one another of His majesty.

God desires Christian worship to powerfully impact our lives! Hebrews 10:23-25 reads, Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Three observations to keep in mind:

First, God wants worship to be a soul-stirring experience. How can we come into the presence of God without having our souls stirred by His majesty? (See: Psalm 34:1-3; 96:7-9; & 100:1-5.)

Second, God wishes worship to be a life-changing experience. How can we contemplate the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf without being changed? (See: 1 Corinthians 11:23ff)

Third, God desires our worship to be spiritually enriching for all who participate. How can individual giftedness be utilized for self aggrandizement when God desires all things be done for the strengthening of the church? (1 Corinthians 14:26)

We should be concerned with both the content and he character of our worship assemblies. By doing so, we will more effectively please God in our worship; the church will be strengthened and the lost will be led to Christ.

© Bill Williams

August 17, 2006

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
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8 Responses to Some Thoughts About Worship…

  1. cwinwc says:

    Every generation has it’s vision for “soul stirring worship.” We had a member of our church, in his 70’s, who remembered when most men in the little Church of Christ he grew up in, raised their hands when they prayed in public. He said his generation didn’t connect with that kind of expression so as they came into leadership they moved away from outward signs of emotion.

    He was open minded enough to see that each generation puts it’s distinctive mark on a church’s corporate worship.

  2. Well said, Cecil. Have you noticed that cultural background also impacts our thinking with respect to worship? I’m also persuaded that just as people have different learning styles, people will connect in different ways to different aspects of our worship gatherings. -bill

  3. Dee Andrews says:

    I think you are absolutely correct, Bill, that cultural background impacts our thinking and how we worship. My mom, bless her heart, just a few years ago after my dad died in 1996 went to a black c of C not too far away from her home in northeast Abilene to a meeting of some kind because she had heard some good things about the church.

    She was very intrigued and rather amazed, I think, at the high level of energy and physical expression and emotion, but finally had to leave because of the loud volume of noise, energetic and enthusiastic singing and clapping, which gave her a headache.

    She is of a much more conservative and quiet nature, but appreciates differences in the expression of worship and understands it, which is more than I can say for some people I know.

    As for me – here and now – I’m having a struggle in the 3 times I’ve been able to worship here again so far with what seems to me to be a total lack of emotion or enthusiasm or energy or immersion in worship. You talk about “soul-stirring” and “life-changing” worship. Here I have yet to see anything that even resembles “life” period.

    So far, I seem to have carried the day with my “on the loud side” maybe, but heartfelt, singing (either alto or tenor, since my voice seems to be getting more husky all the time and the song leaders at times, like last Sunday, pitched the songs WAY too high for me) and enthusiasm that has caused several heads to turn my way. I just hope a bit of it will influence others around me and give them the courage to sing a bit louder (and faster, hopefully? Geez) and with more feeling and thought about the words of praise.

    I keep thinking that maybe they just don’t know any better or any different and that maybe they will be a bit enthused and IN-fused with the Spirit to come to a deeper sense of worship if I’m there practicing the same. Y’all think?

  4. Bill says:

    Thanks, Dee, for these insightful thoughts. This may be one of those instances in which what they don’t know IS hurting them. Well, maybe not hurting…but preventing them from experiencing how enthusiastic worship can help us live into the calling of Christ in our lives. -bill

  5. Kathy says:

    There are times and certain hymns that bring to deep, quiet, worship and awe of our God. There are others that propel me into joyful open praise, hands in the air, clapping, almost shouting with joy. And others in thanksgiving for Jesus sacrifice, in confession to Him of all my failings, that bring me to tears, especially in pre communion music. It all depends on the particular music we are singing. Personally, my druthers are for a combination of differnt types of music that address different facets of worship of God.

    I see this multi-faceted worship of God in the Psalms. There are times David is bold, clapping and dancing, while rejoicing in the love of God. Others he is contemplative, quiet “be still and know I Am God!” – and still others that are filled with deep seated confession, repentance bringing him to humbly fall on his face in front of God begging forgiveness. (Psalm 51, for instance)

    We are so blessed to have such a range of worship of God and I’m so thankful for that richness in worship, either privately or corporately.

  6. Great thoughts, Kathy! I’m going to make sure that our worship leader reads these!
    Blessings to you and yours!

  7. TRACY DEAN says:


    yea …

    Tracy Dean II

  8. Pingback: Resources for 1 Corinthians 11:24 - 29

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