Worship: What Is It? And Are We Doing It?


Yesterday I stopped by my husband’s office on the way to the laundry – fortunately it took no gas and only a little time because both are located in our walk-in basement.  David was online exploring the world of U-tube (or maybe God-tube) “worship” venues, some professionally done, some – well, you know, not so professionally done.  Since he knows my heart for worship – particularly with music – he said he spotted something that I should see and clicked on a video title.

I have been to many “worship services” over the years – from the red (or blue or green) hymnal format led by organ/piano and front-man dressed in suit and tie, to contemporary worship bands complete with loud-speakers, electric instruments, drums, light shows, etc., dressed in whatever they felt like wearing that day. I have had both good and bad experiences with both worship formats. Honestly, my preference is modified contemporary – meaning, I don’t mind the volume if it does no damage to my eardrums and I don’t care much how the band is dressed if their musical worship leads me into an experience with my Savior and/or my Heavenly Father.

Back to David’s computer worship selection: it was a contemporary band, with a “worship leader” wearing a foot high Mohawk. I’m okay with that. He asked the crowd of people, mostly youth, to take off their shoes because they were on holy ground. Hey, that’s okay too – didn’t God instruct Moses to do the same? What came next appeared to be a really fun kid-time as the participants were instructed to wave a sock around over their heads and jump up and down and spin around as they sang, “You spin me around, Jesus.” Later the instruction came to “wave your hands over your head, like you don’t care.” The kids seemed to be having fun trying to follow these instructions.

We took time to read the comments from various viewers regarding this “worship” video. Some questioned whether it was real worship, others defended “having fun” while you worship.

The next video David clicked on (I can only assume for my viewing pleasure) was one with a woman “worship” leader shrieking out (she definitely was not singing) various instructions to the audience mixed with numerous tributes to God who, based on the volume of her shouts, might have been a bit hard of hearing. (Maybe loud shriek  is your preference, but definitely not mine.)

By the way, the first video was labeled “Worst Worship Ever” and the second was titled, “More of the Worst Worship”.

I want to weigh in here with my two or three cents.

The word “worship” comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word, “weorthscipe” – weorth meaning worthy or honorable, and scipe meaning “ship”, which when used as a suffix means “the quality, condition or state of” or “the rank, status or office of”. So the act of worship is ascribing the quality of worth or honor to something or someone.

If someone is addressed as “your worship” it denotes being worthy, having excellence of character, dignity or worth.  The verb form of “worship” is defined as “to adore or pay divine honors to”, or “to reverence with supreme respect”.

You can say what you want about modern worship needing to be “relevant” to the worshiper, and defend whatever you want by saying “somebody has to reach the kids on their terms” (although I thought worship was to reach God, not people).  But – the questions which the two above-mentioned “worship” illustrations call to mind are these:  is what we are doing in the name of “worship” really to honor our Divine Creator, Supreme Being, Beautiful Savior, God above all gods, King of kings, Lord of lords, Holy God, and Loving Father? Are we teaching kids to really “worship” God? Or are we creating crowd-pleasing, emotion-stirring, fun events that have little or nothing to do with ascribing honor to the worthiness of our Heavenly Father or His Son, Jesus the Messiah?

I am not against Christians having fun – but let’s call it a fun-fellowship time and not call it worship. I personally believe that we would be totally bowled over and amazed at the worship that goes on in heaven, were we allowed to catch a glimpse of it this side of the grave.

This is not an attempt to hold up one type of worship above another – I believe that God’s heart can be just as pleased with electric guitars as with pipe organs, with loud music as well as soft music, with slow rhythm well as well as a dance beat, with a man in a suit and tie as well as a girl in jeans and tank top. But I do think that sometimes He wonders what or who we are “worshiping” – are we focusing on Him as we sing our songs or dance our dances or play our instruments.

Do we come away from our “worship” experience knowing that we have touched the heart of our Father and sensing that He has returned the touch to our hearts? Have we been more focused on the fun of the music than on the meaning of the words? Have we connected with heaven while still here on earth as we offer our adoration, our joy, our praise to our loving Father?

Got any thoughts on worship from your own experiences? Share them with me.

©2011, Marcy Alves

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About Marcy

I love my Father-God. Together we are walking through a season of my life where I am standing with him against cancer. He is my strength and trust. As one of his daughters, my passion is to share his love with others in practical, everyday illustrations and insights.

Posted on February 23, 2014, in Christian Growth, Follow Me, God Encounters, Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thanks Marcy. When I first began studying the Hebrew roots of Christianity thirty years ago I learned an interesting fact. The rabbis had always taught that the highest form of worship was reading and studying the Word of God. But because of our entrenched formats and traditional outlooks, most cannot see this or even consider it.

    • Thanks for yur thoughts and taking the time to share them with me. Yes,reading and studying Scriptures can be another form of worship – whatever causes our hearts to ascribe worth to our Father God is worship. But even in the rabis’ study of Scripture, at least in Jesus’ time, our Lord said: “You search (study) the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. . . But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.” John 5:39-40, 42 ESV So even reading and study of Scriptures can be merely mechanical religion. Real worship must be in spirit and in truth. I sit on my deck in the sunshine, listening to the birds, feeling the breeze on my face, and my heart wells up in praise to God.

  2. "light and salt"

    You explain the act of worship well here, Marcy. The acts of worship may come in many forms, but they all have one thing in common…to ascribe praise to God.

    If we seek to please God, we give acceptable “worship” to Him. It is He who is praised, regardless of whether or not we liked one song, or a particular sermon or not.

    It matters first that God is pleased…we are built up in doing that correctly.

    Steve Pejay

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