Tuesday, August 9, 2011

worship in church services

A couple of week ago I wrote a blog about what worship is. That blog was in response to questions about what worship is that I was mulling over. I came to the conclusion that worship is a response to God and encompasses much more than just singing songs.

In the days since I wrote that post, I have found myself thinking more and more about the part of our church services where to do what we commonly call worship - or in other words, singing.
  • Why do we call that worship?
  • Why is singing so important to (most of) us?
  • Why have we taken a word that encompasses so much and used it describe just a small part of the time we gather as a community of believers?
I once again, do not feel like I have the definitive or the only possible answers to these questions. The following is only my thoughts and the insights I have gained from conversations with others and things I have read.

The first question of why we call singing in church services worship is the one I have had running through my head the most. I was reading some more on the Worship Matters blog and came across some attempts to answer this question that are written far more succinctly than my attempts to say much the same thing.

"But, why do we sing? Let me suggest three reasons. We sing to remember God's Word. We sing to respond to God's grace. We sing to reflect God's glory." (What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 6, Feb 7/06)
"Singing is meant to be a tool that help us remember those words - God's deeds, attributes, promises, and warnings." (What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 7, Feb 8/06)
When I think about it, I learned a lot about God and the Bible as a child from the songs we learned in Sunday School and at summer camp. Even today, I still remember Scripture better if it is in a song.

Music and singing is one way express our worship to God, but it is only one way we do so. As much as it is an important part for myself and for many others I know, I am glad it is not the only way we can worship.

Which brings me to my next question: Why have we taken a word that encompasses so much and used to describe just a small par o the time we gather as a community of believers?

To quote Worship Matters again:
"Worship doesn't begin when the singing starts, nor end when the music stops. We don't 'do worship' in a meeting, nor compartmentalize it to the singing section. Romans 12:1 clearly says that worship is about what we do with our lives." (What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 16, March 1/06)
It is easy to call the time with music and singing in church worship and it is accurate, as long as we are not limiting it to that. All of the time we are gathered together as a community of believers can be worship - whether we are singing, or praying together, or listening to someone preach, or sharing testimonies, or sharing conversation and getting involved in each others lives over food.

We must be careful to not limit our understanding of worship to being only singing by calling the music worship, when all of it can and should be worship.


  1. Great thoughts...All ways of worship can be great to God weather it's going for a walk in his creation or sitting and spending time in his word. I agree we must be cautious to not let worship in church become something we do in rote but more because we feel the words wash over us like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for writing and continue to ramble your thoughts..

  2. Defiitly, probably for me one of the ways I best worship God is when I'm going for a walk.