Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What Is Worship?

Dr. Lynn Anderson, in his book, In Search of Wonder, says, "Worship is fundamentally praise: it is our response to God for who He is and what he has done."

I believe that we as Christians need to understand that worship is about God. It is our expression of thanksgiving for what God has done in our lives.

I enjoy worshiping God. I believe the more we worship God the more we know Him and the more authentic our relationship becomes. The more we worship God, the more we can truely say, like Isaiah said, "I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God" (Isa. 61:10).

The following are some great quotes on worship from In Search of Wonder:

"Vertical words of worship are meaningless if they are not matched by worship as a lifestyle of compassion and holiness." -Dr. Lynn Anderson

"In worship we remember who we are by remembering that God is the ultimate reality."- Mike Cope

" Since the totality of human reality includes the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, so must our worship."- Randy Harris

"Worship that is not relevant is not biblical."- Rubel Shelly

"The ultimate intent of Scripture is not shame us, but to inspire us." - Harold Shank

"In the Lord's Supper, we remember- we reexperience-the death of Jesus. God breaks in and shows us his world. In partaking, we not only signify Christ's body and blood, we participate in them. And we make a covenant that we will embody his sacrifical life." - Jack Reese

"Finding God seeking us. This is worship." -Max Lucado

How would you define worship? Do you think it is easy not to focus on God and focus on self when worshipping (ie: what can I get out of it)? What do you enjoy about your personal worship time with God? Do you agree that the more we worship God the deeper and more authentic our relationship with Him becomes? Does worship change us? How? What do you enjoy about the worship at your congregation? Is their a worship experience that you would like to share.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a mother of three small boys and really do miss "real" participation with my heart in worship because I find it so hard to pay attention.

I am always worrying about how much noise they are making and inevitably have to take them all out to the nursery. I have gotten to the point that I just go in there to start with.

I feel like I'm in exile back there and am not a participant in the worhsip I miss so much.

I look forward to the someday when I'll be able to be there again, but I know I'm supposed to be thankful for my sons and enjoy them at every age. It's just hard in our small church when no one will attend the nursery but their mother.

I just miss that closeness with God and miss really hearing my husband's beautiful sermons.

11:24 PM  
Blogger David Kirk said...

Worship is a heartfelt "Thank you". A famous author said that once. I hope you are doing better, Kinney.

11:47 PM  
Blogger jel said...

morning preacherman,

hope ya are and your family are well!

was Reading in James 1:12,
and thought of you and your wife!


7:37 AM  
Anonymous Tim Archer said...

I've noticed with wonder the arguments over whether or not something is "worship." The word literally means "ascribe worth to something," and when we try and force it beyond that, we get into trouble. I hear "That's not worship, it's praise" or "'s service" or "it's thanksgiving." I think all those things can be worship. Worship is what we do to tell God how much we think He is worth.

Grace and peace,

7:54 AM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

For me worship is all about experiencing the presence of God in my heart. Too often when we speak of worship we try to wrap brainy words around it instead of heartfelt feelings. I believe that God actually wants to commune with us at a deep spiritual heart level.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Good to see you bacdk in the saddle again, Kinney.
I loved this book by Lynn Anderson, and just about everything else he has written. He is one of my favorite contemporary writers. He seems to have a way of putting things in proper prospective.
God wants a relationship with us, and I believe that worship helps to build that relationship by drawing us closer in communion with Him. I do understand the consternation of the anonymous mother, as I have had the same feelings of inadequate worship experiences from distractions, most of which were in my own mind. I encourage her to find time, alone, to spend with her maker, and to possibly listen to her husbands sermons beforehand, accomplishing a twofold purpose; first to enjoy and understand it better, and second, to be an honest critic for him, encouraging him in his efforts.
One thing is for sure. It's not about us, it's about GOD! And you usually get out of something what you put into it.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Arlene Kasselman said...

Yes Worship changes us if we allow God to work in us. How can one not be changed when you are drawn to the throne room of the Holy God?

All created things are ordained to praise the creator. But certainly, I think some are more "worship oriented" than others.
Meaning we all have certain pathways to God that are perhaps our service, or being in creation, study, etc and one of those is Worship. Whatever the primary pathway to God it is a way in which we bring a sacrifice of praise.

But if we are to keep this to what we traditionally view as our times of worship together as a body, nothing thrills me more. I love it when God does something in worship inspite of our planning or flaws. Those times when the flow does not seem right on paper or something goes wrong and then by the end of a service one knows that this is bigger than our planning, bigger than our best efforts and bigger than our abilities.

While I am preaching...I also want to add that I love nothing more than the gift of art that we can offer up in worship.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Jennifer ASH said...

I think growing up in a conservative Church of Christ has had a stifling effect on me truly worshipping in a church setting. Growing up if someone clapped or raised a hand it was very uncomfortable! I hate feeling that way, but it is hard to overcome. This holding back is not the way it was in the Bible. I know in my heart I worship God, but on the outside it is hard to see. I am working on this. :)

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to tell you that I enjoy your blog. As a mother of young children I cherish the alone times with God. I want to encourage this mother of three to cherish the alone times you have with God. I do.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Rubel Shelly's quote, "Worship that is not relevant is not biblical." We need to make worship relevant to our lives. I believe many of our Churches today are set in the past. We need to be contemporary just as the Church in bible was contemporary to their own culture.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Darin L. Hamm said...


I agree with everything you said and I loved the quotes.

It is such a hard thing because worship can become so self centered and yet if my self isn’t engaged then how could I call it worship?

I think about Abel and his act of worship as recorded in Genesis 4. Worship takes a passion for bringing your best, the fat portions, and I think that is in every part of our lives.

I like that because then it really doesn’t matter how I feel, if I bring my fat portions I just know God looks on it with favor.

Great question Preacherman, one I needed to ponder today.


11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we can worship in so many different ways to express our devotion and love to Almight Jehovah God.

12:28 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

raising my white flag to God

2:59 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

I see worship as something that flows from an appreciation for the glory of God. When we see how good, kind, just, powerful, holy, loving, patient, etc. that He is, we have a hard time avoiding worshiping Him. When I don't see God as He is, I have a hard time worshiping.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think worship is something we practice here so we can be good at in heaven. Just something to think about.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous -bill said...

Not to be self serving here, but you might find a thing or two of value in my recent post on worship.


12:40 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Worship is not primarily something done in an assembly on Sunday mornings. It is being a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Soren said...

Acknowledging His Lordship and pouring out a heart full of praise and gratitude to Him! Thank you Jesus!

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our hearts are the greatest offering that we can give to God.

9:42 AM  
Blogger The Walk said...

Someone I know once pointed out that worship isn't about us--it is our reponse to who God is. Darin's comparison reminded me that to rightly respond to God, we need to bring Him our best, and our responses will be unique.

I could relate to the first comment! Having small kids can be so isolating! Blessings to you.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worship is more than going through the motions on Sundays.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Benjie said...

"Worship is a lifestyle that lasts for a lifetime."
(from So, This Is Church p. 28)

6:34 AM  
Blogger jel said...


hope y'all are doing ok!

10:40 AM  
Blogger Danny said...

Great quotes.

Thanks for sharing.

Good blog as usual preach!

2:07 PM  
Blogger cwinwc said...

I've heard in the past that worship can become "entertainment" if we're not careful. If true worship involves recognizing and praising God, then let the "entertainment" come for "true" worship cannot take place without God and a person who is attempting to live a life for God.

If you think about it, "true" in worship has noting to do with using or practicing the correct forms but rather worshiping God while taking my mask off before Him and my fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Best worship experience beside what takes place at our home church each Sunday for me took place about 3 years ago at the Mid-Ohio Valley Workcamp.

Pat Pugh was used by God to bring us into the presence of Him that night. Buses were on the way to take some 300 kids bowling that night. The kids wouldn't stop worshiping. The buses were called off, some 20-something kids were baptized into Christ that night, and the worship went well on past Mid-night. For me, it was a small version of what took place in Acts 2.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post on worship.
I believe we worship God with our lives. It is showing others mercy, justice, love, grace. He desire mercy not sacrifice.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Great post... I'll be dropping more info later, when I have time.

Take care!

3:45 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Great discussion and thoughts from everyone. Thank you to all who are particapting.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Candle (C & L) said...

Kinney - Thanks for dropping by the other day -- but you do know how to hurt me -- commenting on 92 degree weather when I'm sitting in sb-zero temperatures "buried" in snow - well you'd have to be here to know what that does :) :)

I appreciated the post on worship and I think all the observations and quotes you provide are useful -- BUT I also believe (along with Alan and couple of the other commentors) ) that for Christians "life is worship".

We need to be clear that the "assembled worship" that you appear to be talking about is only a part of our worship -- and that even when we are assembled the "me-to-God" portion of the worship is only a part of the purpose. As I read the NT I am impressed with the emphasis on worshipping by serving one another. Paul tells the Corinthians that the reason for their "meeting together" was so "all things" would edify (encourage & buildup). ISTM that it is easy to place too much emphasis on the part of "life worship" that is restricted to a specific time & place -- which leads to thinking that we "go to church" or "go to worship" rather than what I consider to be a more balanced (and accurate view) that are our assemblies are an important (indeed essential) part of being a Christian whose "life is worship"

Bobby Valentine and John Mark Hicks published a recent bookon "Worship" that takes a comprehensive look at the reasons that God's people gathered throughout the Bible and the nature of worship in the lives of God'speople. I found it the portionsofit that Iread to be informative (although not light reading). I have also enoyed "In Search of wonder".

Worship is like a diamond and has multiple facets. While it is instructive to examine one side and be awestruck by the beauty of that view we should not lose sight of the fact that one view doesn't do the diamond justice.
God Bless

p.s. a case in point is your first commentor -- this young mother is worshipping (serving God) with as much fervor by caring for and shaping the lifes of those precious gifts from God as much as the person who is getting an emotional high through joining others in a hymn of praise.

I'd suggest that she needs to find some other quiet time to experience that her-to-God portion of the worship and find other opportunities for "getting to-gether" with other Christians so that she can be "encouraged and built up" --

Her experience is so typical of those who assemble in small congregations (which my wife experienced raising 3 children).
The older ladies in the congregation are called to find a way to serve her (and all young mothers) by providing those opportunities for her to have her "me time" rather than leaving her feeling alone, frowning at her when the children are a little disruptive and failing to provide her with some "quality" "one another" time. (How many times have you seen an older mature lady say -- I'll bow out of ladies class and look after the young children so this young mother can have at least one opportunity to be nourished and better equipped to serve her family -- which is the highest calling in serving God-- the older lady (or man for that matter) who does that is demonstrating true worship. (and realizing that I don't really know enough to say this I'd encourage this ladies preacher husband to realize that he has a absolute obligation to provide his wife with those opportunities even if once in a while he has to say I'm not preaching to-day-- I'm staying home to worship by caring for my children so that my wife can experience the nourishment of the assembly without being distracted.

p.p.s.I apologize for the sermon but this is an important issue in our congregation right now -- too many "older mature" Christians are "looking down their noses" at younger less mature Christians who aren't being encouraged by the traditional "worship services".

Rather than asking "how could I improve my worship (service) to God by finding ways to allow those struggling souls to be "encouraged and built up" they take the view "if it was good enough for my parents and for me it should be good enough for them" - While most don't recognize it this is avery selfish "dog-in the mangerish" -- "it's my way or the highway" attitude and they are surprised and appalled when people choose the "highway".

5:46 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thanks for your comments on this topic. It means alot. I am glad we cooled off yesterday. It was a nice 80 degrees. Today is going to be 75. On the topic. I do think we should make the most of the oppportunities life gives us. We should strive to focus our lives on God and understand that worship is about Him. Generationally we need to understand that tastes are going to be different and that is okay as long as we are hearts are glorifying God. I love the song, "Listen to Our Heart" because if you look at David and how he worship you can tell he was authenic and genuine. I guess that is why I love the Psalms so much is because it is reflectant of his heart. You see his deepest emotions desplayed throughout it. I think as we as Christians need to be flexable when it comes to the form of worship. We need to understand that things change but the message never changes. Jesus is the same yester, today, tomorrow. Yet our connecting to him and the way we reach the world will change. Our worship must be most authentic to our time in order for us to meet the needs of the member in the church and reach those who need Jesus Christ. We are living in a "post-Christian culture". Are we going to emerge forward? Make a difference? or not?

10:26 AM  
Blogger David Heflin said...

Hey preacherman, just thought I would let you know I finally got another blog post up. Grad school, church, and family (not necessarily in that order) make it hard for me to keep up. As to you question...I agree with all you say and the men you quote. I also like to emphasize the communal aspect of our worship together, because it is often too individualistic. I am not really satisfied with the way we do communion. Maybe I will post another blog about that! Keep it up the good posting!

5:43 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Great thoughts and look forward to your post on communion. Thanks for sharing with us.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Dwayne Hilty said...

"In Search of Wonder"...definitely a good read. I also seem to gravitate towards Jack Reese's description of what it means to remember Jesus in communion and worship; namely, a re-experience of the living Jesus.

Funny as I sit here and reflect on worship from my vantage point of leading a church plant...worship is very much a 24/7 thing, and I'm often amazed at the art of unbelievers to sniff out our crappy, perhaps even inconsistent, ways of doing worship. One of the cultural things we're trying to develop right now are worship planning groups that will include unbelievers who are experiencing what it means to be Christ-Followers.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Slater said...

That's such a great book -- I need to go back and read it again.

Thanks for the great quotes!

2:28 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Great thoughts on this topic.
I am praying for Soma. I pray that God will bless this new ministry in ways you have never dreamed possible. Keep up the wonderful work as you emerge forward in the community and reach those who are searching for God.

9:43 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thank you so much for commenting and your encouragement. I really enjoy this book. I have read it about three times. Each time I get encouraged and learn something that I missed the time before. I like that each one of these men know what they are talking about.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

I know a good book on the subject ...

Seeking Shalom,
Bobby Valentine

8:48 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment. It means so much brother. God blessing on you brother.
In Him,
Kinney Mabry

1:36 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:36 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I do believe our worship must change in order to reach out to the lost and be missional. We can change the order of worship. How worship is conducted and done. But, I believe the message must remain the same. We also must remember that Jesus will always be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God will always be a God of love who seeks a personal relationship with us. John 3:16!

7:00 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I do believe our worship must change in order to reach out to the lost and be missional. We can change the order of worship. How worship is conducted and done. But, I believe the message must remain the same. We also must remember that Jesus will always be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God will always be a God of love who seeks a personal relationship with us. John 3:16!

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