Worship Mythbusters: dispelling popular notions that get in the way of authentic worship [version 1.1]

I am grateful to you my readers for the IM’s, comments, emails and conversations over coffee about my last post.  This week I am going to refine a bit for you where I am heading with these.  You took the bait.

The reason I am calling these sayings “myths” is because like other sayings thrown around in our Christian, evangelical subculture, these become trite mottos used to pummel our fellow brethren and they become untrue since their application is far removed from their origins.  I got some of you to think, which is fantastic!  Think my brothers and sisters, think!

Remember, we are talking about liturgy or public worship services rather than theology or the literal definition of worship (giving God His due honor or worth).

Here is the first revisions from the original.  (In the coming weeks I will write more extensively on each of these first 6):

  • Worship is a lifestyle. Better said, “Worship is something special, not everything I do.” I cannot claim brushing my teeth for Jesus is worship.  Worship must cost me something.  I live as a worshipper who shows this by literal “acts” of worship that may be small or big, but are separate for this very purpose.  This is why the weekly gathering is so important–a separate time for the purpose of giving to God His worth.  What do you do that is separate from the mundane to express your devotion or worship to God?
  • Worship is not music. Better said, “Worship is expressed not just through music.” Biblically, there are many scriptures that give the posture of worship and music hand-in-hand. Worship may not be music in the pure sense, but certainly the weight of its use in worship in scripture should not be easily discarded. Obviously, there are many ways we can express our worship without music such as spoken prayers, or creatively sharing our testimony or God-story.  Music is significant in the Bible and tradition as an expression of worship, but what other options do I have in public worship to express worship?
  • Worship is not about me. Better said, “Worship is about God.” It is obvious that God is the object of worship.  But, we are the worshipper and remembering who God is, what He has done and whose we are is all part of worship. We come as humans to worship.  When we deny ourselves, that does not mean we become something not human.  Jesus was human.  We worship like Jesus, not Spock.  We bring ourselves into the mix.  How does reminding myself of whose I am also become an act of worship along with response to God for who He is and what He has done?
  • Worship with hymns is deeper theologically than with modern music. Better said, “Hymns are rich in heritage and theological expression.” There indeed are many hymns that are weak on theology, but we still sing some of them at Christmas.  There are many choruses that are fantastically rich with theology.  White, European songs from 300 years ago may not be relevant to all, but to some they are rich and represent a terrific expression.  How do I put hymns in their proper context without either discarding them or on the other hand actually worshipping the medium of using hymns?
  • Worship is better in a certain style or structure.  Better said, “Worship for ME is better in a certain style or structure.” Note the the word “ME” added.  The premise here is that there is far more liberty in scripture and tradition than we accept.  We become ethnocentric in our worship so often without realizing it.  We would never approve of our modern day missionaries imposing Western music on indigenous people without regard to a groups unique culture.  How respectful and appreciative of other forms of worship expression and structure am I compared to the ones I like and why is that important for Christian unity?
  • True worship should make me feel good (or bad). Better said, “Authentic worship has emotion or passion.” All of our emotions as worshippers are employed.  We simply respond sometimes and the response is based on what God has done or based on reflecting on who He is.  Doing this will result in passion of some sort, but we cannot demand that we feel a certain way when we go to God to worship.  The idea is that we will feel something, however, if not all the time, most of the time.  Otherwise, we are not “engaged” in our worship and therefore really not vested in it.  How open am I to allowing my emotions to be expressed in my worship and do I sneer or smile at those that are freer than I?

Please tell me how you think about these revisions.

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

40 comments

  1. You seem to be much nicer to hymns on this post compared to the last, but that is fine. I don’t see how anyone could really disagree with these.

  2. You seem to be much nicer to hymns on this post compared to the last, but that is fine. I don’t see how anyone could really disagree with these.

  3. You seem to be much nicer to hymns on this post compared to the last, but that is fine. I don’t see how anyone could really disagree with these.

  4. You seem to be much nicer to hymns on this post compared to the last, but that is fine. I don’t see how anyone could really disagree with these.

  5. Rich,
    I’ve been a lurker here for some time and must say that I enjoy processing your thoughts.

    This article has really solidified since the first draft and presents some great ideas to consider. The concepts of worship and music and the way they are treated in the church has been on my mind so much lately. Our church has been forced to deal with these issues you mention and as I have become more involved with the leadership, I have become more concerned with these “trite mottos” which are propagated by the popular christian media.

    I have spent much time thinking about worship and music and their relationship to each other. I agree that music is such an important act of worship and that, while in this day and age, singing in public is considered strange unless you are a professional, I believe that we were created to sing praises to and about our God.

    That being said, I also think that we tend to focus on music too much and end up convincing ourselves that worship is music is worship. We tend to not talk about other sacrifices as worship nearly as often as we probably should. Nor do we remind ourselves why we are making those sacrifices. The Bible says that we are to be living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to the Lord. This means we are certainly supposed to sing, but also to continually reaffirm our identity in Chirst which will in turn lead us to love others, to server others, and to be good stewards of the gifts and blessings which God has given us.

    Thanks so much for your persistence and willingness to tackle some difficult topics in your blog.

  6. Rich,
    I’ve been a lurker here for some time and must say that I enjoy processing your thoughts.

    This article has really solidified since the first draft and presents some great ideas to consider. The concepts of worship and music and the way they are treated in the church has been on my mind so much lately. Our church has been forced to deal with these issues you mention and as I have become more involved with the leadership, I have become more concerned with these “trite mottos” which are propagated by the popular christian media.

    I have spent much time thinking about worship and music and their relationship to each other. I agree that music is such an important act of worship and that, while in this day and age, singing in public is considered strange unless you are a professional, I believe that we were created to sing praises to and about our God.

    That being said, I also think that we tend to focus on music too much and end up convincing ourselves that worship is music is worship. We tend to not talk about other sacrifices as worship nearly as often as we probably should. Nor do we remind ourselves why we are making those sacrifices. The Bible says that we are to be living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to the Lord. This means we are certainly supposed to sing, but also to continually reaffirm our identity in Chirst which will in turn lead us to love others, to server others, and to be good stewards of the gifts and blessings which God has given us.

    Thanks so much for your persistence and willingness to tackle some difficult topics in your blog.

  7. Rich,
    I’ve been a lurker here for some time and must say that I enjoy processing your thoughts.

    This article has really solidified since the first draft and presents some great ideas to consider. The concepts of worship and music and the way they are treated in the church has been on my mind so much lately. Our church has been forced to deal with these issues you mention and as I have become more involved with the leadership, I have become more concerned with these “trite mottos” which are propagated by the popular christian media.

    I have spent much time thinking about worship and music and their relationship to each other. I agree that music is such an important act of worship and that, while in this day and age, singing in public is considered strange unless you are a professional, I believe that we were created to sing praises to and about our God.

    That being said, I also think that we tend to focus on music too much and end up convincing ourselves that worship is music is worship. We tend to not talk about other sacrifices as worship nearly as often as we probably should. Nor do we remind ourselves why we are making those sacrifices. The Bible says that we are to be living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to the Lord. This means we are certainly supposed to sing, but also to continually reaffirm our identity in Chirst which will in turn lead us to love others, to server others, and to be good stewards of the gifts and blessings which God has given us.

    Thanks so much for your persistence and willingness to tackle some difficult topics in your blog.

  8. Rich,
    I’ve been a lurker here for some time and must say that I enjoy processing your thoughts.

    This article has really solidified since the first draft and presents some great ideas to consider. The concepts of worship and music and the way they are treated in the church has been on my mind so much lately. Our church has been forced to deal with these issues you mention and as I have become more involved with the leadership, I have become more concerned with these “trite mottos” which are propagated by the popular christian media.

    I have spent much time thinking about worship and music and their relationship to each other. I agree that music is such an important act of worship and that, while in this day and age, singing in public is considered strange unless you are a professional, I believe that we were created to sing praises to and about our God.

    That being said, I also think that we tend to focus on music too much and end up convincing ourselves that worship is music is worship. We tend to not talk about other sacrifices as worship nearly as often as we probably should. Nor do we remind ourselves why we are making those sacrifices. The Bible says that we are to be living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to the Lord. This means we are certainly supposed to sing, but also to continually reaffirm our identity in Chirst which will in turn lead us to love others, to server others, and to be good stewards of the gifts and blessings which God has given us.

    Thanks so much for your persistence and willingness to tackle some difficult topics in your blog.

  9. I would only add to your final point that worship should make us think as well as feel. Though probably not good exegesis, ometimes I think of this as worship in “spirit” (feeling) and “truth” (thinking). Authentic worship includes both.

  10. I would only add to your final point that worship should make us think as well as feel. Though probably not good exegesis, ometimes I think of this as worship in “spirit” (feeling) and “truth” (thinking). Authentic worship includes both.

  11. I would only add to your final point that worship should make us think as well as feel. Though probably not good exegesis, ometimes I think of this as worship in “spirit” (feeling) and “truth” (thinking). Authentic worship includes both.

  12. I would only add to your final point that worship should make us think as well as feel. Though probably not good exegesis, ometimes I think of this as worship in “spirit” (feeling) and “truth” (thinking). Authentic worship includes both.

  13. I like what you’re saying here, Rich! I like that you say worship should cost us something, is linked with music, is inherently emotional (or engages our emotions), and that I have a part to play in worship even as God is the ‘object’ to which my emotional offering is directed.
    good stuff…great blog 🙂
    -jeremy

  14. I like what you’re saying here, Rich! I like that you say worship should cost us something, is linked with music, is inherently emotional (or engages our emotions), and that I have a part to play in worship even as God is the ‘object’ to which my emotional offering is directed.
    good stuff…great blog 🙂
    -jeremy

  15. I like what you’re saying here, Rich! I like that you say worship should cost us something, is linked with music, is inherently emotional (or engages our emotions), and that I have a part to play in worship even as God is the ‘object’ to which my emotional offering is directed.
    good stuff…great blog 🙂
    -jeremy

  16. I like what you’re saying here, Rich! I like that you say worship should cost us something, is linked with music, is inherently emotional (or engages our emotions), and that I have a part to play in worship even as God is the ‘object’ to which my emotional offering is directed.
    good stuff…great blog 🙂
    -jeremy

  17. Pete..AMEN…it should also make us think. Worship should shape our thinking, as well as our feelings–hand in hand. I am saving that argument for my 2.0 list!

  18. Pete..AMEN…it should also make us think. Worship should shape our thinking, as well as our feelings–hand in hand. I am saving that argument for my 2.0 list!

  19. Pete..AMEN…it should also make us think. Worship should shape our thinking, as well as our feelings–hand in hand. I am saving that argument for my 2.0 list!

  20. Pete..AMEN…it should also make us think. Worship should shape our thinking, as well as our feelings–hand in hand. I am saving that argument for my 2.0 list!

  21. Just ran across your blog (finally, after seeing your name all over the blog universe!).
    Welcome to my blogroll and daily RSS read!

    🙂

  22. Just ran across your blog (finally, after seeing your name all over the blog universe!).
    Welcome to my blogroll and daily RSS read!

    🙂

  23. Just ran across your blog (finally, after seeing your name all over the blog universe!).
    Welcome to my blogroll and daily RSS read!

    🙂

  24. Just ran across your blog (finally, after seeing your name all over the blog universe!).
    Welcome to my blogroll and daily RSS read!

    🙂

  25. I am jealous of those people who are express worship freer than I do. I feel like I hold back. Please pray for me.

  26. I am jealous of those people who are express worship freer than I do. I feel like I hold back. Please pray for me.

  27. I am jealous of those people who are express worship freer than I do. I feel like I hold back. Please pray for me.

  28. I am jealous of those people who are express worship freer than I do. I feel like I hold back. Please pray for me.

  29. Our Father in Heaven… the One who opens doors that can never be closed, and closes doors that can never be opened again… Holy One… Beautiful One…
    We pray that you will help us love You more each and every day, especially today. We pray that you will help us love each other more and more.

    God, please help us to express ourselves to You in full freedom and peace, in spirit and in truth.

    Please be with brother Peter Park. Help him with his jealousy. And help him realize he is free… where the Spirit of the Lord is…

    Thank You so much for your love, and what You’ve done in our lives. Please continue to turn your smiling face upon us, blessing us with your love and peace and guidance.

    God, please bless us with an extra measure of understanding as we try to work through these tough ideas, “myths”, and all.

    In Jesus name we pray.

  30. Our Father in Heaven… the One who opens doors that can never be closed, and closes doors that can never be opened again… Holy One… Beautiful One…
    We pray that you will help us love You more each and every day, especially today. We pray that you will help us love each other more and more.

    God, please help us to express ourselves to You in full freedom and peace, in spirit and in truth.

    Please be with brother Peter Park. Help him with his jealousy. And help him realize he is free… where the Spirit of the Lord is…

    Thank You so much for your love, and what You’ve done in our lives. Please continue to turn your smiling face upon us, blessing us with your love and peace and guidance.

    God, please bless us with an extra measure of understanding as we try to work through these tough ideas, “myths”, and all.

    In Jesus name we pray.

  31. Our Father in Heaven… the One who opens doors that can never be closed, and closes doors that can never be opened again… Holy One… Beautiful One…
    We pray that you will help us love You more each and every day, especially today. We pray that you will help us love each other more and more.

    God, please help us to express ourselves to You in full freedom and peace, in spirit and in truth.

    Please be with brother Peter Park. Help him with his jealousy. And help him realize he is free… where the Spirit of the Lord is…

    Thank You so much for your love, and what You’ve done in our lives. Please continue to turn your smiling face upon us, blessing us with your love and peace and guidance.

    God, please bless us with an extra measure of understanding as we try to work through these tough ideas, “myths”, and all.

    In Jesus name we pray.

  32. Our Father in Heaven… the One who opens doors that can never be closed, and closes doors that can never be opened again… Holy One… Beautiful One…
    We pray that you will help us love You more each and every day, especially today. We pray that you will help us love each other more and more.

    God, please help us to express ourselves to You in full freedom and peace, in spirit and in truth.

    Please be with brother Peter Park. Help him with his jealousy. And help him realize he is free… where the Spirit of the Lord is…

    Thank You so much for your love, and what You’ve done in our lives. Please continue to turn your smiling face upon us, blessing us with your love and peace and guidance.

    God, please bless us with an extra measure of understanding as we try to work through these tough ideas, “myths”, and all.

    In Jesus name we pray.

  33. “Worship is a lifestyle. Better said, ‘Worship is something special, not everything I do.'”
    Question #1: Is “Worship is a lifestyle.” the myth?

    Question #2: Is “Worship is something special, not everything I do.” also the myth, just stated in a different way? Or is it the truth of the myth? Or…?

    I’m a little confused.

  34. “Worship is a lifestyle. Better said, ‘Worship is something special, not everything I do.'”
    Question #1: Is “Worship is a lifestyle.” the myth?

    Question #2: Is “Worship is something special, not everything I do.” also the myth, just stated in a different way? Or is it the truth of the myth? Or…?

    I’m a little confused.

  35. “Worship is a lifestyle. Better said, ‘Worship is something special, not everything I do.'”
    Question #1: Is “Worship is a lifestyle.” the myth?

    Question #2: Is “Worship is something special, not everything I do.” also the myth, just stated in a different way? Or is it the truth of the myth? Or…?

    I’m a little confused.

  36. “Worship is a lifestyle. Better said, ‘Worship is something special, not everything I do.'”
    Question #1: Is “Worship is a lifestyle.” the myth?

    Question #2: Is “Worship is something special, not everything I do.” also the myth, just stated in a different way? Or is it the truth of the myth? Or…?

    I’m a little confused.

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