This originally appeared as a devo for Western Hills.
Woman (after a recent service): “I love it when we jump right into worship on Sunday morning.”
[I was shaking my head yes and was about to say something when she continued…]
Woman: “I mean the mission moment and offering – I get it. We sort of have to do those things – and I like your messages – I learn a lot. But worship is what I love most about our services.”
I gather my thoughts for a moment, constructing a reply that is both gentle and corrective to these comments when her husband inserts his two cents…
Husband: “I could do without that (he now uses air quotes) “worship” and get to the meat of the teaching of the Word.”
If I’ve learned anything over all these years of ministry it is to never to put yourself between a husband and wife when they hold two opposing views. It really doesn’t matter the topic – paper or plastic, Pepsi or Coke, Apple or Android – you just don’t walk where angels fear to tread.
Is this a cowardly position? Absolutely. But it will keep you alive.
So as I smiled and nervously made my exit from the conversation, it hit me that this is not all that uncommon of a practice – labeling certain actions or behaviors as “worship” and deeming others as not worship. Take the list of things that commonly occur during a worship service.
Singing – worship.
Offering – something we have to do to keep the church funded.
Praying – worship.
Announcements – something we do to get people involved.
Reading scripture – helps us understand message…sometimes.
Message – helps us understand scripture…sometimes.
Communion – worship (?).
If I had any courage at all, I would have gone back through the list of the service with them, reframing it ALL as worship – because this is how Western Hills plans and understands the service.
Announcements – practical ways to worship with our serving.
Missions Moments – reminders to worship through prayer with those who serve elsewhere.
Offering – intentional worship WITH our money instead OF our money.
Message – to worship with our minds, to inform, and to deepen our worship.
Singing – worship to connect our hearts to our heads.
That reads pretty good and it IS how we (Creative Team, pastoral staff) understand our services and all the elements in a particular service. We even take the next step in designing every service to have some kind of challenge or opportunity to respond because we know it’s not really worship until it is transformative – it changes us.
But even with all of that – this is still not a comprehensive understanding of worship. It’s not complete.
This is where Romans 12:1-2 can really help us.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Let’s forget everything we think we know about worship for a moment and chew on the 4 key points of this definition of worship.
1. Worship is holistic. Our whole bodies – physical, emotional, spiritual, mental.
2. Worship is a response. We give something, we bring something. It’s active, a choice – not passive and receptive.
3. Worship is transformative. It changes who we are, how we think, how we behave.
4. Worship is beneficial. We are better able to discern God’s will when we worship.
To pigeon-hole worship as only a Sunday morning (or Saturday night) experience is like having a cup of salt water and calling it the ocean. It borders on the insanely ridiculous. It’s why I wish we had a better name for what we do on the weekends other than “worship services.”
Pep Rally For The Week of Worship In Front Of You
Your Weekly Hour of Practice To Prep For Real Worship
A Time To Remember You’re Not Alone The Rest of Week
Obviously, the exercise of renaming our “event” on Sunday morning could create more work than it’s worth. No name would ever aptly describe it versus what real worship is. So maybe we need to change our perspective on worship first.
We “jump right into worship” the moment we wake up in the morning. We give our whole bodies to something from the first moment of consciousness. What we center our day, our moment around – that’s what we worship.
And when we begin to worship with that kind of understanding and intentionality…Sunday will take us to a whole other level.