Defining Worship 1

I recently finished writing my first book about worship. At the beginning I try to help define worship so that everyone who reads the book takes it from the same angle. But what about you? Have you ever thought about how you would define worship, or how you would come to that definition? If not, the next few entries might help you out.

Isn’t it amazing (and ridiculous) how we can get so entangled in our personal preferences and interpretations to the point that we argue and bicker over something we haven’t even come to a common definition of?

Sitting at my computer one day I used a popular internet search engine to see if I could locate a theology of worship course. In the results from that search, every time a theology of worship was referenced, it was in regards to liturgical worship. Many Christians, from pastors and priests to the local parishioner, would define worship simply as a church service. Liturgical worship is one example of the use of this definition, and it includes elements such as a “call to worship,” reinforcing this idea.

Others believe that worship is our total existence, our life of service to Christ. Generally, those who hold to this definition grab hold of Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:1 which “urges” us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices as our “reasonable service” (nkjv), or “spiritual worship” (niv) unto God. Every step, every thought, every deed is an act of worship to God.

Then there are those of us who limit worship to a musical definition. Contemporary evidence is abundant for a musical definition of worship. After all, the Christian music labels have made an industry from praise and worship music that includes compact discs, DVDs, hymnals, songbooks, websites, and more. A musical definition of worship is the hardest viewpoint to reduce to a simple definition, or to show a specific chapter-and-verse biblical description of.

Though I have the utmost respect for liturgical worship, and I believe that we are called to serve God in all that we do and lift up our lives as an offering to Him, I am inclined to define worship from that musical point of view. Of course, the hard part of taking that stance is explaining what I mean. Take some time and think about the different possible definitions of worship, and start working on your own definition. We’ll start looking at my own thoughts in the next entry.