We act like we know what it is. We certainly talk about it a lot. But most people must not really know what the word “worship” means, or they probably wouldn’t talk so much about whether or not they liked the worship at a certain church.
When they use the word “worship” in that context, I think the word they are actually looking for is “music.”
Now, when Jason and I were envisioning our church plant, there was no question that we wanted a certain musical style for our Sunday morning services. We wanted an electric guitar-driven sound with only one or two singers, and we wanted it loud enough that people wouldn’t feel self-conscious about singing.
But that isn’t what I’m talking about here when I use the word “worship.” We visited several different churches over the summer, and I think it’s safe to say that the style of music a church employs has very little to do with whether or not the people in the seats are worshiping.
You see, worship isn’t music.
I mean, it can be. A lot of times, worship includes music. But music, in and of itself, is not worship.
Consider the words of David, who was himself a musician: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). As someone who was a prolific songwriter, he could have expressed a desire for any number of things to be pleasing to God: his singing, his harp-playing, his song melodies; but he didn’t. He prayed that God would be pleased by his thoughts and his words.
That’s why I get frustrated with younger people who complain about hymns, and older adults who complain about modern worship music. I don’t think you can approve or condemn either as a complete group. I think you have to take each song on its own merit.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We are here to talk about what worship is. Here is my definition:
Worship is adoration of the object being worshiped.
For Christians, hopefully that object is God.
Paul tells us that someday, “at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” (Philippians 2:10-11, CEV).
If we could see God in all his glory right now, our only response could be worship.
But right now, on this side of heaven, God’s glory is veiled. And we get to choose what our response to him will be.
So what does a response of worship look like?
(Read Part 2 here)