Thursday, November 18, 2010

Worship Service or Service of Worship?

This post may get me in trouble :-)  I wanted to warn you before reading any further.  Worship has alway been a hot topic in the church.  Sometimes it gets so hot (read; controversial) that you don't want to enter in and at other times it gets so hot (read; really exciting) that you can't stay out.  Worship has drew large crowds and split churches.  Worship has been both toxic and intoxicating.  
Worship is best viewed as a way of life, but is most often reduced to music and singing in a corporate gathering on Sunday mornings.  It is in this 20 to 30 minute experience of music where many church wars have been fought.  People many times choose which church to attend based upon the type or style of worship.  People leave churches after years of attendance simply because the style of worship was changed and they didn’t like it.  All of this is far, far from what worship should be.  We should ask if worship is for us (consumerism) or are we made for worship?  
Worship is not a preferred music style but an attitude of the heart that is concerned about elevating and honoring the name of Jesus in all that a person does.  Worship was meant to continue when our eyes open in the morning, in all that is done throughout our day and continued as we fall asleep only to be carried on the next day or in the middle of night when we use the bathroom (Dueteronomy 6:4-9).  This pattern certainly includes gatherings of believers on Sunday mornings or any other day of the week (Colossians 3:16).
Worship must get beyond music and worship services but this will take a long term intentional focus.  The title “Worship Service” tends to limit our understanding of worship as a way of life and attitude of the heart.  When we say we attend a “worship service”, we are implying that we are not worshipping until the service begins.  We certainly need to think of and employ ways of reinventing worship to become holistic.  
The Scriptures seem to indicate that worship is more of an act of obedience in the way we live than a set of songs we sing together.  I love singing songs to God and the more dynamic the crowd and the more quality the music, the better, I’m no different than the next person!  But those mini experiences pale to the exhilaration I sense when I follow God’s Word and trust Him through a difficult situation or when I choose to walk away from a temptation or when I see another person humbly lay down their desires to follow Jesus’ desire.  For me, it is easier to join a crowd of people, raise my hands and sing with a robust voice than to spend time loving an unlovely person as they walk through dark times.  
I know God loves music and enjoys the praises of His people (Psalm 30:4).  But singing songs of praise without a life throughout the week that is submitted to Jesus is far from worship.  So too are acts of obedience without love (1 Corinthians 13:1), it is nothing more than ‘clanging cymbal’.  We must all expand our understanding of worship as being a way of life.  Worship is what we live out in all of our waking hours; in prayer (Luke 18:1), in conversation with others (Malachi 3:16), in how we perform our work (Colossians 3:23), in our giving (Luke 21:1-3), in our sacrificing in life (Romans 12:1-2) and so on.  When we see our yard work, conversations and exercise routines as acts of worship, I believe that our corporate times of worship will only be enhanced.  

What do you think?