Sunday, July 19, 2009

"worship is not music"

A strange shift began about fifteen years ago,

Ask most evangelical or charismatic Christians in USAmerica about the place of "worship"
in a gathering. For some strange reason, the word has come to be synonymous with "the songs sung early in the meeting."

"Good morning! After the worship, the children will be dismissed, and Pastor Steve will share from God's word"

We even call the person leading the singing the "worship leader."
Whazzup with that?

Of course, this definition is foreign to Scripture, and to the church in all history and places..until our lifetime in the West.

Google "worship is not music" for some clues as to how this hijacking happened.


Why do we also thing a "worship" gathering (after the music, or "worship set")is for teaching?:

In the early church the public worship of the church was a prayer of praise and thanksgiving directed not to the people but to God. Seeing worship as prayer is a paradigm shift from the current presentational notion of worship. Today worship is frequently seen as a presentation made to the people to get them to believe in the first place, to enrich and edify their faith, and to bring healing into their lives. But the ancient church did not design (a contemporary word) worship to reach people, to educate people, or to heal people. Yet in their worship, which was a prayer of praise and thanksgiving offered to God, people were indeed nourished by offering God’s mighty acts of salvation as a prayer to God for the life of the world. The point is, of course, that worship as prayer shapes who we are. But how so?...
-Robert Webber, Continued here, ht; Len


  1. I teach a lot of younger people about worship and what it means. I usually start in the Old Testament and end somewhere in Revelation (chapter 4 or 5) are great examples of crazy and wild "throne room" worship.

    One thing that I always stress is that worship is not exclusively music. That worship can happen anywhere and not just the first 20-40 minutes of a Sunday/Saturday/Wednesday church service.

    In fact, there is no such thing as a "worship song"! A song is simply a song, a tool. One must be in the attitude and in the Spirit for the song to be even used in worship. Otherwise it's nothing different than what we might hear on our top 40 radio stations on any given Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday. Does anyone still listen to FM radio?

    Worship (and revelation) happens when we're in a place of incomprehension, bedazzlement, and transformation. It has to. What do you expect after meeting God face to face and giving Him all the glory?

  2. Fabulous points, Mark!

    What do you use, or recommend, as an alternative title for "worship leader"?

    And extra credit for posting after your first child was still in the hospital, on their wifi?

  3. Yes, I we are still in the hospital and yes I'm on their wifi. Going home today, however.

    It could be something as simple as music pastor or music minister. Or if one calls himself a "worship" leader/pastor then they should explore and understand what that truly means and use it outside of the bounds of music. Showing people how to pray, how to approach His Word, how to express worship in music etc.

    Seems like the bureaucratic order of our churches these days loves to pigeon-hole each of our pastors and ministers into one (and only one) category of ministry. Pastors are only allowed to pastor the people in their ministry's age group or specialization: "Oh, I shouldn't be counseling you, I'm the youth pastor and you're over the age of 22."

    Seems kind of weird to me. Let's stop the territorialism and simply let pastors be pastors to the people who need pastoring. If we practice what I'm preaching doesn't this make us all worship leaders?

  4. Mark..nailed it on all counts.

    Will you be my pastor/worshipleader?


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!