Worship Mythbusters: dispelling popular notions that get in the way of authentic worship

I am working on developing some thoughts I have about worship into something more.  I would like you as my readers to participate in a conversation about this.  Here is the premise:  there are a lot of phrases out there that confuse our liturgy and make our public worship services more complicated than necessary. I want to dispel some of these popular, but misinterpreted or false myths and assumptions about public, corporate worship.

Here is a list of six of the titles with some brief thoughts.  Let me know what you think about all or any of these as “myths” about worship and liturgy.

  • Worship is a lifestyle. Disco is a lifestyle, being a follower or worshipper of Jesus demands more than that.  You just do not wear worship, in other words.  It requires practice, intent and being separate at times from the mundane.  I am not worshipping when I brush my teeth, I am simply brushing my teeth.  Is not worship an act of faith rather than just living by a code?
  • Worship is not 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.  Is not musical worship something we see scripturally in both heaven and earth, and in the OT and NT?
  • Worship is not about me. False.  It is obvious that God is the object of worship.  But, we are the worshipper.  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.  Can we not bring our desires, emotions and humanity into our worship?
  • Worship with hymns is deeper theologically than with modern music. Get real here, folks.  There 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.  Do white, European songs from 300 years ago really give us a full picture of theology anyway?
  • Worship is better in a certain style or structure.  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.  Why do we have so much legalism about how other people worship?
  • True worship should make me feel good (or bad). Sometimes godly sorrow being felt is what is in order.  Sometimes God’s holiness and righteousness is seen and we are overwhelmed.  Sometimes God’s justice and wrath is displayed and we respond with some fear.  So, 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.
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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.

84 comments

  1. I whole-heartedly agree with 5 of your 6 contentions. They are much needed correctives to misunderstandings within both “contemporary” and “traditional” worship settings.

    I don’t follow you on #3, however, and it may be a matter of semantics. Worship is, by definition celebrating God’s worth, God’s value. It is all about God.

    In fact, I would contend, that God acts out worship (through the Holy Spirit), is the object of worship (Jesus Christ), and the subject of worship (God, the Father).

    As you mention, we deny (or surrender) ourselves in worship. We “lose ourselves” in worship only to be found in Christ.

    So I would say worship is all about God. What say you?

  2. I whole-heartedly agree with 5 of your 6 contentions. They are much needed correctives to misunderstandings within both “contemporary” and “traditional” worship settings.

    I don’t follow you on #3, however, and it may be a matter of semantics. Worship is, by definition celebrating God’s worth, God’s value. It is all about God.

    In fact, I would contend, that God acts out worship (through the Holy Spirit), is the object of worship (Jesus Christ), and the subject of worship (God, the Father).

    As you mention, we deny (or surrender) ourselves in worship. We “lose ourselves” in worship only to be found in Christ.

    So I would say worship is all about God. What say you?

  3. I whole-heartedly agree with 5 of your 6 contentions. They are much needed correctives to misunderstandings within both “contemporary” and “traditional” worship settings.

    I don’t follow you on #3, however, and it may be a matter of semantics. Worship is, by definition celebrating God’s worth, God’s value. It is all about God.

    In fact, I would contend, that God acts out worship (through the Holy Spirit), is the object of worship (Jesus Christ), and the subject of worship (God, the Father).

    As you mention, we deny (or surrender) ourselves in worship. We “lose ourselves” in worship only to be found in Christ.

    So I would say worship is all about God. What say you?

  4. I whole-heartedly agree with 5 of your 6 contentions. They are much needed correctives to misunderstandings within both “contemporary” and “traditional” worship settings.

    I don’t follow you on #3, however, and it may be a matter of semantics. Worship is, by definition celebrating God’s worth, God’s value. It is all about God.

    In fact, I would contend, that God acts out worship (through the Holy Spirit), is the object of worship (Jesus Christ), and the subject of worship (God, the Father).

    As you mention, we deny (or surrender) ourselves in worship. We “lose ourselves” in worship only to be found in Christ.

    So I would say worship is all about God. What say you?

  5. Pete,
    I think what is good here for discussion is that “worship” is what it is (about God), but liturgical expression really is a human activity, albeit one of faith (about us). I think we can come to our services with who we are as people who have emotions, desires and wants from God. Often we become emotional ascetics who are not just trying to put Jesus first, but trying to deny our very humanity. It is legalistic and wrong to tell people to not come to worship to essentially be benefited by the joy of being with Christ. Some would say it is so much NOT us that it is a robotic activity. Faith is not robotic. It involves everything from joy to anguish.

    God indeed acts out worship through us (like Psalm 40), but this new song is sung through humans who bring themselves in the mix of it all. He gives the architect the innate skills to draw the bridge, too. We never lose ourselves into a zen-like nirvana but rather keep our thoughts, wits and emotions as something to give.

    What inhibits people in worship is the feeling that they cannot be “real” and have to contrive something. And, what limits people is thinking that they can compartmentalize who they are when they worship and be something else on Monday morning. We have to remember that we bring it all in our worship and expression of worship. This is good, since we can “get the help we need” from the throne of grace. Wanting to get that help is part of “worship”

  6. Pete,
    I think what is good here for discussion is that “worship” is what it is (about God), but liturgical expression really is a human activity, albeit one of faith (about us). I think we can come to our services with who we are as people who have emotions, desires and wants from God. Often we become emotional ascetics who are not just trying to put Jesus first, but trying to deny our very humanity. It is legalistic and wrong to tell people to not come to worship to essentially be benefited by the joy of being with Christ. Some would say it is so much NOT us that it is a robotic activity. Faith is not robotic. It involves everything from joy to anguish.

    God indeed acts out worship through us (like Psalm 40), but this new song is sung through humans who bring themselves in the mix of it all. He gives the architect the innate skills to draw the bridge, too. We never lose ourselves into a zen-like nirvana but rather keep our thoughts, wits and emotions as something to give.

    What inhibits people in worship is the feeling that they cannot be “real” and have to contrive something. And, what limits people is thinking that they can compartmentalize who they are when they worship and be something else on Monday morning. We have to remember that we bring it all in our worship and expression of worship. This is good, since we can “get the help we need” from the throne of grace. Wanting to get that help is part of “worship”

  7. Pete,
    I think what is good here for discussion is that “worship” is what it is (about God), but liturgical expression really is a human activity, albeit one of faith (about us). I think we can come to our services with who we are as people who have emotions, desires and wants from God. Often we become emotional ascetics who are not just trying to put Jesus first, but trying to deny our very humanity. It is legalistic and wrong to tell people to not come to worship to essentially be benefited by the joy of being with Christ. Some would say it is so much NOT us that it is a robotic activity. Faith is not robotic. It involves everything from joy to anguish.

    God indeed acts out worship through us (like Psalm 40), but this new song is sung through humans who bring themselves in the mix of it all. He gives the architect the innate skills to draw the bridge, too. We never lose ourselves into a zen-like nirvana but rather keep our thoughts, wits and emotions as something to give.

    What inhibits people in worship is the feeling that they cannot be “real” and have to contrive something. And, what limits people is thinking that they can compartmentalize who they are when they worship and be something else on Monday morning. We have to remember that we bring it all in our worship and expression of worship. This is good, since we can “get the help we need” from the throne of grace. Wanting to get that help is part of “worship”

  8. Pete,
    I think what is good here for discussion is that “worship” is what it is (about God), but liturgical expression really is a human activity, albeit one of faith (about us). I think we can come to our services with who we are as people who have emotions, desires and wants from God. Often we become emotional ascetics who are not just trying to put Jesus first, but trying to deny our very humanity. It is legalistic and wrong to tell people to not come to worship to essentially be benefited by the joy of being with Christ. Some would say it is so much NOT us that it is a robotic activity. Faith is not robotic. It involves everything from joy to anguish.

    God indeed acts out worship through us (like Psalm 40), but this new song is sung through humans who bring themselves in the mix of it all. He gives the architect the innate skills to draw the bridge, too. We never lose ourselves into a zen-like nirvana but rather keep our thoughts, wits and emotions as something to give.

    What inhibits people in worship is the feeling that they cannot be “real” and have to contrive something. And, what limits people is thinking that they can compartmentalize who they are when they worship and be something else on Monday morning. We have to remember that we bring it all in our worship and expression of worship. This is good, since we can “get the help we need” from the throne of grace. Wanting to get that help is part of “worship”

  9. This is another one of your posts where all I’ve got to say is just a solid, “Amen!”

  10. This is another one of your posts where all I’ve got to say is just a solid, “Amen!”

  11. This is another one of your posts where all I’ve got to say is just a solid, “Amen!”

  12. This is another one of your posts where all I’ve got to say is just a solid, “Amen!”

  13. WORSHIP IS BETTER IN A CERTAIN STYLE OR STRUCTUREWho are we to say that one style of music is better than another? Or that, “it isn’t worship when you add electric guitars,” as some decrepit relatives of mine would say. Can anyone say with any degree of certainty that what we do at Sunridge is any more or less spiritual than some Ethiopians banging drums to God under a Bongra-bonga tree, for example?
    If you were slightly an idiot you could say yes or no. The rest of us just have to answer, “I don’t know.” That’s because what works for one church culture may not necessarily work for another, and imposing our ideas on them (or vice-versa) might send the congregation gurning out the exit doors – never to return.

  14. WORSHIP IS BETTER IN A CERTAIN STYLE OR STRUCTUREWho are we to say that one style of music is better than another? Or that, “it isn’t worship when you add electric guitars,” as some decrepit relatives of mine would say. Can anyone say with any degree of certainty that what we do at Sunridge is any more or less spiritual than some Ethiopians banging drums to God under a Bongra-bonga tree, for example?
    If you were slightly an idiot you could say yes or no. The rest of us just have to answer, “I don’t know.” That’s because what works for one church culture may not necessarily work for another, and imposing our ideas on them (or vice-versa) might send the congregation gurning out the exit doors – never to return.

  15. WORSHIP IS BETTER IN A CERTAIN STYLE OR STRUCTUREWho are we to say that one style of music is better than another? Or that, “it isn’t worship when you add electric guitars,” as some decrepit relatives of mine would say. Can anyone say with any degree of certainty that what we do at Sunridge is any more or less spiritual than some Ethiopians banging drums to God under a Bongra-bonga tree, for example?
    If you were slightly an idiot you could say yes or no. The rest of us just have to answer, “I don’t know.” That’s because what works for one church culture may not necessarily work for another, and imposing our ideas on them (or vice-versa) might send the congregation gurning out the exit doors – never to return.

  16. WORSHIP IS BETTER IN A CERTAIN STYLE OR STRUCTUREWho are we to say that one style of music is better than another? Or that, “it isn’t worship when you add electric guitars,” as some decrepit relatives of mine would say. Can anyone say with any degree of certainty that what we do at Sunridge is any more or less spiritual than some Ethiopians banging drums to God under a Bongra-bonga tree, for example?
    If you were slightly an idiot you could say yes or no. The rest of us just have to answer, “I don’t know.” That’s because what works for one church culture may not necessarily work for another, and imposing our ideas on them (or vice-versa) might send the congregation gurning out the exit doors – never to return.

  17. I think that over the last few years a certain thing called false humility has creaped in and this whole thing of “it’s not about me” takes on that falseness. I feel that a lot of the people who say that more and more are the one’s who feel that it is about them. Sorry but that is just my observation. Dang right this is about you, it’s about you and your worship to God and how you do it, and how you can influence others to do the same, to worship freely the way they personally worship, THEIR WAY, not the way we tell them to, you tell them to, or the idiots that think it not about them.
    If I hear that again I might puke.

    Worship your way not the way others tell you to.

  18. I think that over the last few years a certain thing called false humility has creaped in and this whole thing of “it’s not about me” takes on that falseness. I feel that a lot of the people who say that more and more are the one’s who feel that it is about them. Sorry but that is just my observation. Dang right this is about you, it’s about you and your worship to God and how you do it, and how you can influence others to do the same, to worship freely the way they personally worship, THEIR WAY, not the way we tell them to, you tell them to, or the idiots that think it not about them.
    If I hear that again I might puke.

    Worship your way not the way others tell you to.

  19. I think that over the last few years a certain thing called false humility has creaped in and this whole thing of “it’s not about me” takes on that falseness. I feel that a lot of the people who say that more and more are the one’s who feel that it is about them. Sorry but that is just my observation. Dang right this is about you, it’s about you and your worship to God and how you do it, and how you can influence others to do the same, to worship freely the way they personally worship, THEIR WAY, not the way we tell them to, you tell them to, or the idiots that think it not about them.
    If I hear that again I might puke.

    Worship your way not the way others tell you to.

  20. I think that over the last few years a certain thing called false humility has creaped in and this whole thing of “it’s not about me” takes on that falseness. I feel that a lot of the people who say that more and more are the one’s who feel that it is about them. Sorry but that is just my observation. Dang right this is about you, it’s about you and your worship to God and how you do it, and how you can influence others to do the same, to worship freely the way they personally worship, THEIR WAY, not the way we tell them to, you tell them to, or the idiots that think it not about them.
    If I hear that again I might puke.

    Worship your way not the way others tell you to.

  21. Ok, so you got me to respond. Are we being a little black and white here? #1. Lifestyle is defined as “n. A way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group”. I suppose if you weren’t practicing worship as a way of life, then you could call it a myth.#2 Better said (in order for me to agree) is that Music is not THE ONLY FORM OF worship.
    #3 Sorry… worship is not about you. Do we participate, yes. Do we gain spiritual, emotional and even physical benefits from worship… yes. But it’s not about me. It’s not about the angels that worship Christ 27/7,it’s not about the rocks that would cry out.
    #4-6, no argument.

  22. Ok, so you got me to respond. Are we being a little black and white here? #1. Lifestyle is defined as “n. A way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group”. I suppose if you weren’t practicing worship as a way of life, then you could call it a myth.#2 Better said (in order for me to agree) is that Music is not THE ONLY FORM OF worship.
    #3 Sorry… worship is not about you. Do we participate, yes. Do we gain spiritual, emotional and even physical benefits from worship… yes. But it’s not about me. It’s not about the angels that worship Christ 27/7,it’s not about the rocks that would cry out.
    #4-6, no argument.

  23. Ok, so you got me to respond. Are we being a little black and white here? #1. Lifestyle is defined as “n. A way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group”. I suppose if you weren’t practicing worship as a way of life, then you could call it a myth.#2 Better said (in order for me to agree) is that Music is not THE ONLY FORM OF worship.
    #3 Sorry… worship is not about you. Do we participate, yes. Do we gain spiritual, emotional and even physical benefits from worship… yes. But it’s not about me. It’s not about the angels that worship Christ 27/7,it’s not about the rocks that would cry out.
    #4-6, no argument.

  24. Ok, so you got me to respond. Are we being a little black and white here? #1. Lifestyle is defined as “n. A way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group”. I suppose if you weren’t practicing worship as a way of life, then you could call it a myth.#2 Better said (in order for me to agree) is that Music is not THE ONLY FORM OF worship.
    #3 Sorry… worship is not about you. Do we participate, yes. Do we gain spiritual, emotional and even physical benefits from worship… yes. But it’s not about me. It’s not about the angels that worship Christ 27/7,it’s not about the rocks that would cry out.
    #4-6, no argument.

  25. I just puked, didn’t know it was going to be this soon though.

  26. I just puked, didn’t know it was going to be this soon though.

  27. I just puked, didn’t know it was going to be this soon though.

  28. I just puked, didn’t know it was going to be this soon though.

  29. But then again I do like the way Erich put it, we do participate in worship, my thing is the people saying that they don’t have anything to do with it.

  30. But then again I do like the way Erich put it, we do participate in worship, my thing is the people saying that they don’t have anything to do with it.

  31. But then again I do like the way Erich put it, we do participate in worship, my thing is the people saying that they don’t have anything to do with it.

  32. But then again I do like the way Erich put it, we do participate in worship, my thing is the people saying that they don’t have anything to do with it.

  33. More clarification…
    #1: Lifestyle, as understood in our culture, do not reflect the original intent of this phrase. We simply do not “wear” worship. Worship is an act. Is is something we actually do. A lifestyle can be discarded. Not so with our followership of Jesus.

    #3 While giving God worth (worship) to who God is and what He has done, I bring who I am to the table. So, worship is about me doing this worship thing.

    Erich,

    The “lifestyle of worship” thing and the other point of “worship is not about me” are points answered with one very important distinction these misrepresentations forget to make: there is a difference between “practice” of worship or our liturgy and the idea of worship in its pure sense. Yes, worship is about God, who is the object of our worship. Worship is something we need bring with us everywhere. However, these popular notions have disregarded the intent of their origins.

    As a married man, I bring that marriage value in every decision I make. It does not mean that wearing a ring makes me married. I have to share the bed with my wife, tell her I love her and be active in seeking and building that. Corporate worship is like what we as people do to our spouses. We have some things that are sacred, separate and holy that we save and give only to our spouse. As a worshipper, I save Sunday and come with thought, intent and sacredness to an event where I can “practice” worship.

    This practice of worship IS about me worshipping and expressing that worship (literally means giving God worth). The sounds, smells, environment and special nature of the event really matter. Brushing my teeth is not worship. Coming to church with something to bring or sacrifice is.

    Too often we use some of these phrases to devalue the corporate worship gathering. We think we come to hear a sermon and sing songs or feel something. Really, it is about encountering God, since He is glorified by being revealed for who He is and what He has done.

    We let ourselves off the hook too often and come ill prepared week after week and wonder why the service does little for us. Partly because we think worship is everything else that is not sacred and forget the sacred. Partly because we are not honest about our humanity when we come before God in our gatherings.

  34. More clarification…
    #1: Lifestyle, as understood in our culture, do not reflect the original intent of this phrase. We simply do not “wear” worship. Worship is an act. Is is something we actually do. A lifestyle can be discarded. Not so with our followership of Jesus.

    #3 While giving God worth (worship) to who God is and what He has done, I bring who I am to the table. So, worship is about me doing this worship thing.

    Erich,

    The “lifestyle of worship” thing and the other point of “worship is not about me” are points answered with one very important distinction these misrepresentations forget to make: there is a difference between “practice” of worship or our liturgy and the idea of worship in its pure sense. Yes, worship is about God, who is the object of our worship. Worship is something we need bring with us everywhere. However, these popular notions have disregarded the intent of their origins.

    As a married man, I bring that marriage value in every decision I make. It does not mean that wearing a ring makes me married. I have to share the bed with my wife, tell her I love her and be active in seeking and building that. Corporate worship is like what we as people do to our spouses. We have some things that are sacred, separate and holy that we save and give only to our spouse. As a worshipper, I save Sunday and come with thought, intent and sacredness to an event where I can “practice” worship.

    This practice of worship IS about me worshipping and expressing that worship (literally means giving God worth). The sounds, smells, environment and special nature of the event really matter. Brushing my teeth is not worship. Coming to church with something to bring or sacrifice is.

    Too often we use some of these phrases to devalue the corporate worship gathering. We think we come to hear a sermon and sing songs or feel something. Really, it is about encountering God, since He is glorified by being revealed for who He is and what He has done.

    We let ourselves off the hook too often and come ill prepared week after week and wonder why the service does little for us. Partly because we think worship is everything else that is not sacred and forget the sacred. Partly because we are not honest about our humanity when we come before God in our gatherings.

  35. More clarification…
    #1: Lifestyle, as understood in our culture, do not reflect the original intent of this phrase. We simply do not “wear” worship. Worship is an act. Is is something we actually do. A lifestyle can be discarded. Not so with our followership of Jesus.

    #3 While giving God worth (worship) to who God is and what He has done, I bring who I am to the table. So, worship is about me doing this worship thing.

    Erich,

    The “lifestyle of worship” thing and the other point of “worship is not about me” are points answered with one very important distinction these misrepresentations forget to make: there is a difference between “practice” of worship or our liturgy and the idea of worship in its pure sense. Yes, worship is about God, who is the object of our worship. Worship is something we need bring with us everywhere. However, these popular notions have disregarded the intent of their origins.

    As a married man, I bring that marriage value in every decision I make. It does not mean that wearing a ring makes me married. I have to share the bed with my wife, tell her I love her and be active in seeking and building that. Corporate worship is like what we as people do to our spouses. We have some things that are sacred, separate and holy that we save and give only to our spouse. As a worshipper, I save Sunday and come with thought, intent and sacredness to an event where I can “practice” worship.

    This practice of worship IS about me worshipping and expressing that worship (literally means giving God worth). The sounds, smells, environment and special nature of the event really matter. Brushing my teeth is not worship. Coming to church with something to bring or sacrifice is.

    Too often we use some of these phrases to devalue the corporate worship gathering. We think we come to hear a sermon and sing songs or feel something. Really, it is about encountering God, since He is glorified by being revealed for who He is and what He has done.

    We let ourselves off the hook too often and come ill prepared week after week and wonder why the service does little for us. Partly because we think worship is everything else that is not sacred and forget the sacred. Partly because we are not honest about our humanity when we come before God in our gatherings.

  36. More clarification…
    #1: Lifestyle, as understood in our culture, do not reflect the original intent of this phrase. We simply do not “wear” worship. Worship is an act. Is is something we actually do. A lifestyle can be discarded. Not so with our followership of Jesus.

    #3 While giving God worth (worship) to who God is and what He has done, I bring who I am to the table. So, worship is about me doing this worship thing.

    Erich,

    The “lifestyle of worship” thing and the other point of “worship is not about me” are points answered with one very important distinction these misrepresentations forget to make: there is a difference between “practice” of worship or our liturgy and the idea of worship in its pure sense. Yes, worship is about God, who is the object of our worship. Worship is something we need bring with us everywhere. However, these popular notions have disregarded the intent of their origins.

    As a married man, I bring that marriage value in every decision I make. It does not mean that wearing a ring makes me married. I have to share the bed with my wife, tell her I love her and be active in seeking and building that. Corporate worship is like what we as people do to our spouses. We have some things that are sacred, separate and holy that we save and give only to our spouse. As a worshipper, I save Sunday and come with thought, intent and sacredness to an event where I can “practice” worship.

    This practice of worship IS about me worshipping and expressing that worship (literally means giving God worth). The sounds, smells, environment and special nature of the event really matter. Brushing my teeth is not worship. Coming to church with something to bring or sacrifice is.

    Too often we use some of these phrases to devalue the corporate worship gathering. We think we come to hear a sermon and sing songs or feel something. Really, it is about encountering God, since He is glorified by being revealed for who He is and what He has done.

    We let ourselves off the hook too often and come ill prepared week after week and wonder why the service does little for us. Partly because we think worship is everything else that is not sacred and forget the sacred. Partly because we are not honest about our humanity when we come before God in our gatherings.

  37. I wonder if it would be helpful to raise some distinctions in this discussion for comparison and clarity.
    Are we talking about our private worship, the kind of daily life-living-out-before-God and people, or are we talking about corporate worship, the kind where Christians gather together at one place at the same time to say the same thing together about God in the same way?

    What about creature worship? What about the heavens declaring, and as someone mentioned earlier, the rocks crying out?

    What about worship of non-believers?

    If we are talking about corporate worship, then worship “is not all about me.” It is about unity of the body while together ascribing to God praise due him as the object and subject of our worship.

    If we are talking about private worship, then it is about our personal integrity, confession, and transparency before our God who sees and knows everything anyway. But even in that case, worship is never about us. Consider Job as an example. He lost everything. He would have every right to complain, but instead, the text says, after hearing of all his loss, he worshiped. Pretty remarkable.

    The problem I have with point number four is that we are often too dismissive in our approach to hymns. Yeah, many of the gospel “hymns” of the 1950’s and 60′ leave a lot to be desired, but let us not neglect the richness of our heritage and presume that we alone are on the precipice of discovering something new about God and putting it to song. In our worship planning we rarely neglect a hymn, a hymn rich in truth and theology, not for reasons of legalism, but as an homage and validation, almost, to the saints past, the “great cloud of witnesses” so to speak, cheering us on in the race.

    Brushing aside their journeys of faith so flippantly reduces their contribution (in our minds, anyway) to what we take for granted in our understanding of theology and the freedoms we enjoy.

    Rich, I think you should re-examine some of your assertions and the way in which they are worded. Though I think you know what it is you’re trying to say, I feel like it didn’t all come out as clearly as you had intended! (Not that I’m “Mr. Clarity.)
    My two cents.

  38. I wonder if it would be helpful to raise some distinctions in this discussion for comparison and clarity.
    Are we talking about our private worship, the kind of daily life-living-out-before-God and people, or are we talking about corporate worship, the kind where Christians gather together at one place at the same time to say the same thing together about God in the same way?

    What about creature worship? What about the heavens declaring, and as someone mentioned earlier, the rocks crying out?

    What about worship of non-believers?

    If we are talking about corporate worship, then worship “is not all about me.” It is about unity of the body while together ascribing to God praise due him as the object and subject of our worship.

    If we are talking about private worship, then it is about our personal integrity, confession, and transparency before our God who sees and knows everything anyway. But even in that case, worship is never about us. Consider Job as an example. He lost everything. He would have every right to complain, but instead, the text says, after hearing of all his loss, he worshiped. Pretty remarkable.

    The problem I have with point number four is that we are often too dismissive in our approach to hymns. Yeah, many of the gospel “hymns” of the 1950’s and 60′ leave a lot to be desired, but let us not neglect the richness of our heritage and presume that we alone are on the precipice of discovering something new about God and putting it to song. In our worship planning we rarely neglect a hymn, a hymn rich in truth and theology, not for reasons of legalism, but as an homage and validation, almost, to the saints past, the “great cloud of witnesses” so to speak, cheering us on in the race.

    Brushing aside their journeys of faith so flippantly reduces their contribution (in our minds, anyway) to what we take for granted in our understanding of theology and the freedoms we enjoy.

    Rich, I think you should re-examine some of your assertions and the way in which they are worded. Though I think you know what it is you’re trying to say, I feel like it didn’t all come out as clearly as you had intended! (Not that I’m “Mr. Clarity.)
    My two cents.

  39. I wonder if it would be helpful to raise some distinctions in this discussion for comparison and clarity.
    Are we talking about our private worship, the kind of daily life-living-out-before-God and people, or are we talking about corporate worship, the kind where Christians gather together at one place at the same time to say the same thing together about God in the same way?

    What about creature worship? What about the heavens declaring, and as someone mentioned earlier, the rocks crying out?

    What about worship of non-believers?

    If we are talking about corporate worship, then worship “is not all about me.” It is about unity of the body while together ascribing to God praise due him as the object and subject of our worship.

    If we are talking about private worship, then it is about our personal integrity, confession, and transparency before our God who sees and knows everything anyway. But even in that case, worship is never about us. Consider Job as an example. He lost everything. He would have every right to complain, but instead, the text says, after hearing of all his loss, he worshiped. Pretty remarkable.

    The problem I have with point number four is that we are often too dismissive in our approach to hymns. Yeah, many of the gospel “hymns” of the 1950’s and 60′ leave a lot to be desired, but let us not neglect the richness of our heritage and presume that we alone are on the precipice of discovering something new about God and putting it to song. In our worship planning we rarely neglect a hymn, a hymn rich in truth and theology, not for reasons of legalism, but as an homage and validation, almost, to the saints past, the “great cloud of witnesses” so to speak, cheering us on in the race.

    Brushing aside their journeys of faith so flippantly reduces their contribution (in our minds, anyway) to what we take for granted in our understanding of theology and the freedoms we enjoy.

    Rich, I think you should re-examine some of your assertions and the way in which they are worded. Though I think you know what it is you’re trying to say, I feel like it didn’t all come out as clearly as you had intended! (Not that I’m “Mr. Clarity.)
    My two cents.

  40. I wonder if it would be helpful to raise some distinctions in this discussion for comparison and clarity.
    Are we talking about our private worship, the kind of daily life-living-out-before-God and people, or are we talking about corporate worship, the kind where Christians gather together at one place at the same time to say the same thing together about God in the same way?

    What about creature worship? What about the heavens declaring, and as someone mentioned earlier, the rocks crying out?

    What about worship of non-believers?

    If we are talking about corporate worship, then worship “is not all about me.” It is about unity of the body while together ascribing to God praise due him as the object and subject of our worship.

    If we are talking about private worship, then it is about our personal integrity, confession, and transparency before our God who sees and knows everything anyway. But even in that case, worship is never about us. Consider Job as an example. He lost everything. He would have every right to complain, but instead, the text says, after hearing of all his loss, he worshiped. Pretty remarkable.

    The problem I have with point number four is that we are often too dismissive in our approach to hymns. Yeah, many of the gospel “hymns” of the 1950’s and 60′ leave a lot to be desired, but let us not neglect the richness of our heritage and presume that we alone are on the precipice of discovering something new about God and putting it to song. In our worship planning we rarely neglect a hymn, a hymn rich in truth and theology, not for reasons of legalism, but as an homage and validation, almost, to the saints past, the “great cloud of witnesses” so to speak, cheering us on in the race.

    Brushing aside their journeys of faith so flippantly reduces their contribution (in our minds, anyway) to what we take for granted in our understanding of theology and the freedoms we enjoy.

    Rich, I think you should re-examine some of your assertions and the way in which they are worded. Though I think you know what it is you’re trying to say, I feel like it didn’t all come out as clearly as you had intended! (Not that I’m “Mr. Clarity.)
    My two cents.

  41. Brian said:
    “If we are talking about corporate worship, then worship “is not all about me.” It is about unity of the body while together ascribing to God praise due him as the object and subject of our worship.”

    AMEN, worship is not “all” about me. Of course, it is about me a little. Make sense?

    Brian said:

    “Brushing aside their journeys of faith so flippantly reduces their contribution (in our minds, anyway) to what we take for granted in our understanding of theology and the freedoms we enjoy.”

    If I am not American, or European, am I really missing something if I do not connect with these hymns from 300 years ago?

    Brian also said:

    “Rich, I think you should re-examine some of your assertions and the way in which they are worded. Though I think you know what it is you’re trying to say, I feel like it didn’t all come out as clearly as you had intended! (Not that I’m “Mr. Clarity.)
    My two cents.”

    See comment #9 where I clarified a bit. And, see the opening statements about these being “developing thoughts” that I am inviting your reactions, to. So I appreciate the conversation so far. Really, I am giving you just bits, and your reactions are very helpful in refining this dialog. Brian’s point is THE point. We ALL need to reexamine the trite phrases and sacred cows we have about our public worship. Let’s think here. THANKS ALL FOR THE GREAT COMMENTS!

  42. Brian said:
    “If we are talking about corporate worship, then worship “is not all about me.” It is about unity of the body while together ascribing to God praise due him as the object and subject of our worship.”

    AMEN, worship is not “all” about me. Of course, it is about me a little. Make sense?

    Brian said:

    “Brushing aside their journeys of faith so flippantly reduces their contribution (in our minds, anyway) to what we take for granted in our understanding of theology and the freedoms we enjoy.”

    If I am not American, or European, am I really missing something if I do not connect with these hymns from 300 years ago?

    Brian also said:

    “Rich, I think you should re-examine some of your assertions and the way in which they are worded. Though I think you know what it is you’re trying to say, I feel like it didn’t all come out as clearly as you had intended! (Not that I’m “Mr. Clarity.)
    My two cents.”

    See comment #9 where I clarified a bit. And, see the opening statements about these being “developing thoughts” that I am inviting your reactions, to. So I appreciate the conversation so far. Really, I am giving you just bits, and your reactions are very helpful in refining this dialog. Brian’s point is THE point. We ALL need to reexamine the trite phrases and sacred cows we have about our public worship. Let’s think here. THANKS ALL FOR THE GREAT COMMENTS!

  43. Brian said:
    “If we are talking about corporate worship, then worship “is not all about me.” It is about unity of the body while together ascribing to God praise due him as the object and subject of our worship.”

    AMEN, worship is not “all” about me. Of course, it is about me a little. Make sense?

    Brian said:

    “Brushing aside their journeys of faith so flippantly reduces their contribution (in our minds, anyway) to what we take for granted in our understanding of theology and the freedoms we enjoy.”

    If I am not American, or European, am I really missing something if I do not connect with these hymns from 300 years ago?

    Brian also said:

    “Rich, I think you should re-examine some of your assertions and the way in which they are worded. Though I think you know what it is you’re trying to say, I feel like it didn’t all come out as clearly as you had intended! (Not that I’m “Mr. Clarity.)
    My two cents.”

    See comment #9 where I clarified a bit. And, see the opening statements about these being “developing thoughts” that I am inviting your reactions, to. So I appreciate the conversation so far. Really, I am giving you just bits, and your reactions are very helpful in refining this dialog. Brian’s point is THE point. We ALL need to reexamine the trite phrases and sacred cows we have about our public worship. Let’s think here. THANKS ALL FOR THE GREAT COMMENTS!

  44. Brian said:
    “If we are talking about corporate worship, then worship “is not all about me.” It is about unity of the body while together ascribing to God praise due him as the object and subject of our worship.”

    AMEN, worship is not “all” about me. Of course, it is about me a little. Make sense?

    Brian said:

    “Brushing aside their journeys of faith so flippantly reduces their contribution (in our minds, anyway) to what we take for granted in our understanding of theology and the freedoms we enjoy.”

    If I am not American, or European, am I really missing something if I do not connect with these hymns from 300 years ago?

    Brian also said:

    “Rich, I think you should re-examine some of your assertions and the way in which they are worded. Though I think you know what it is you’re trying to say, I feel like it didn’t all come out as clearly as you had intended! (Not that I’m “Mr. Clarity.)
    My two cents.”

    See comment #9 where I clarified a bit. And, see the opening statements about these being “developing thoughts” that I am inviting your reactions, to. So I appreciate the conversation so far. Really, I am giving you just bits, and your reactions are very helpful in refining this dialog. Brian’s point is THE point. We ALL need to reexamine the trite phrases and sacred cows we have about our public worship. Let’s think here. THANKS ALL FOR THE GREAT COMMENTS!

  45. Hey Rich,I really like what you are saying here. A good piece to start a conversation. I like some of the others do have some thoughts on #3. I do agree that somewhat worship is about us. We are the worshipper, but can we really worship without the leading of the Spirit. That would then make the ability to worship based on God’s leading within us. Not us as the beginning but God. I’m not a big stickler on this, but I just don’t see any case where we are able to do anything worshipful without the help of God. It is odd to say that we worship God only by God’s leading within us, but I think it is true.

  46. Hey Rich,I really like what you are saying here. A good piece to start a conversation. I like some of the others do have some thoughts on #3. I do agree that somewhat worship is about us. We are the worshipper, but can we really worship without the leading of the Spirit. That would then make the ability to worship based on God’s leading within us. Not us as the beginning but God. I’m not a big stickler on this, but I just don’t see any case where we are able to do anything worshipful without the help of God. It is odd to say that we worship God only by God’s leading within us, but I think it is true.

  47. Hey Rich,I really like what you are saying here. A good piece to start a conversation. I like some of the others do have some thoughts on #3. I do agree that somewhat worship is about us. We are the worshipper, but can we really worship without the leading of the Spirit. That would then make the ability to worship based on God’s leading within us. Not us as the beginning but God. I’m not a big stickler on this, but I just don’t see any case where we are able to do anything worshipful without the help of God. It is odd to say that we worship God only by God’s leading within us, but I think it is true.

  48. Hey Rich,I really like what you are saying here. A good piece to start a conversation. I like some of the others do have some thoughts on #3. I do agree that somewhat worship is about us. We are the worshipper, but can we really worship without the leading of the Spirit. That would then make the ability to worship based on God’s leading within us. Not us as the beginning but God. I’m not a big stickler on this, but I just don’t see any case where we are able to do anything worshipful without the help of God. It is odd to say that we worship God only by God’s leading within us, but I think it is true.

  49. TYLER: #3 I do agree that somewhat worship is about us. We are the worshipper, but can we really worship without the leading of the Spirit. That would then make the ability to worship based on God’s leading within us.
    You are right. We cannot, truthfully, even seek God without God’s help. We cannot have faith without the truth.

    What is said better instead of “WORSHIP IS NOT ABOUT US” is to say “WORSHIP IS ABOUT GOD…us worshipping Him.” I just do not think we think to much about how that phrase is misused to beat up people.

  50. TYLER: #3 I do agree that somewhat worship is about us. We are the worshipper, but can we really worship without the leading of the Spirit. That would then make the ability to worship based on God’s leading within us.
    You are right. We cannot, truthfully, even seek God without God’s help. We cannot have faith without the truth.

    What is said better instead of “WORSHIP IS NOT ABOUT US” is to say “WORSHIP IS ABOUT GOD…us worshipping Him.” I just do not think we think to much about how that phrase is misused to beat up people.

  51. TYLER: #3 I do agree that somewhat worship is about us. We are the worshipper, but can we really worship without the leading of the Spirit. That would then make the ability to worship based on God’s leading within us.
    You are right. We cannot, truthfully, even seek God without God’s help. We cannot have faith without the truth.

    What is said better instead of “WORSHIP IS NOT ABOUT US” is to say “WORSHIP IS ABOUT GOD…us worshipping Him.” I just do not think we think to much about how that phrase is misused to beat up people.

  52. TYLER: #3 I do agree that somewhat worship is about us. We are the worshipper, but can we really worship without the leading of the Spirit. That would then make the ability to worship based on God’s leading within us.
    You are right. We cannot, truthfully, even seek God without God’s help. We cannot have faith without the truth.

    What is said better instead of “WORSHIP IS NOT ABOUT US” is to say “WORSHIP IS ABOUT GOD…us worshipping Him.” I just do not think we think to much about how that phrase is misused to beat up people.

  53. This whole “worship is a lifestyle” thing was a really important turning point in my personal devotion to Jesus. When I was much younger it allowed me to see that worship was not just songs in church – that is a really useful and important concept in many people’s journey towards intimacy with God. As you point out, “lifestyle” may not be the best word to describe that concept, but I still think it’s a crucial revelation that we all need to have t some point in our journeys.
    For me, I define worship in my own life as anything I do that brings glory to God. I want everything I do, speak and think to bring glory to God, and I know that this idea really helped me to relax into God’s assurances to me that Christianity is not about performance (making sure that I do enough good things for God to keep Him happy with me), but that I am a worshiper all the way through every aspect of my life. I’m even bringing God glory when I sleep – Psalm 3:5.

  54. This whole “worship is a lifestyle” thing was a really important turning point in my personal devotion to Jesus. When I was much younger it allowed me to see that worship was not just songs in church – that is a really useful and important concept in many people’s journey towards intimacy with God. As you point out, “lifestyle” may not be the best word to describe that concept, but I still think it’s a crucial revelation that we all need to have t some point in our journeys.
    For me, I define worship in my own life as anything I do that brings glory to God. I want everything I do, speak and think to bring glory to God, and I know that this idea really helped me to relax into God’s assurances to me that Christianity is not about performance (making sure that I do enough good things for God to keep Him happy with me), but that I am a worshiper all the way through every aspect of my life. I’m even bringing God glory when I sleep – Psalm 3:5.

  55. This whole “worship is a lifestyle” thing was a really important turning point in my personal devotion to Jesus. When I was much younger it allowed me to see that worship was not just songs in church – that is a really useful and important concept in many people’s journey towards intimacy with God. As you point out, “lifestyle” may not be the best word to describe that concept, but I still think it’s a crucial revelation that we all need to have t some point in our journeys.
    For me, I define worship in my own life as anything I do that brings glory to God. I want everything I do, speak and think to bring glory to God, and I know that this idea really helped me to relax into God’s assurances to me that Christianity is not about performance (making sure that I do enough good things for God to keep Him happy with me), but that I am a worshiper all the way through every aspect of my life. I’m even bringing God glory when I sleep – Psalm 3:5.

  56. This whole “worship is a lifestyle” thing was a really important turning point in my personal devotion to Jesus. When I was much younger it allowed me to see that worship was not just songs in church – that is a really useful and important concept in many people’s journey towards intimacy with God. As you point out, “lifestyle” may not be the best word to describe that concept, but I still think it’s a crucial revelation that we all need to have t some point in our journeys.
    For me, I define worship in my own life as anything I do that brings glory to God. I want everything I do, speak and think to bring glory to God, and I know that this idea really helped me to relax into God’s assurances to me that Christianity is not about performance (making sure that I do enough good things for God to keep Him happy with me), but that I am a worshiper all the way through every aspect of my life. I’m even bringing God glory when I sleep – Psalm 3:5.

  57. Hey Rich,You have a lot of good points; I see there is a lot of discussion. I know your point is to get us thinking; in that context I don’t agree that any of these six statements are myths. You have stated several contexts where these statements taken alone might be false, but there are also contexts where these statements are true.

    #1A. Our lifestyle will be a reflection of our beliefs, and if one of our beliefs is that we should be worshippers of Jesus Christ, then our lifestyle will unavoidably reflect our worship. A true lifestyle is an effect, not a cause. If one merely wears a lifestyle, whether it be worship or disco, that really isn’t a true lifestyle; rather it’s a pose of a lifestyle.
    #1B. Some will argue that mundane tasks can be acts of worship; I don’t disagree but I’m not going to argue that. Rather I will argue that every lifestyle will have its collection of mundane tasks: that neither proves nor refutes the alleged myth. If we assume that brushing your teeth is devoid of any worshipful qualities, it still doesn’t speak against worship being a lifestyle.

    #2. Worship can contain musical elements, but not all elements of worship are musical. The confusion arises out of what the modern church too many times labels worship. Not too many years ago the church service was called a worship service because all of the elements of the service were considered to be acts of worship. Our church had a music leader, not a worship leader. That clearly delineated the role without ascribing undue importance to a particular element. Giving a cup of cold water in His name is an act of worship, but no music is involved.

    I do agree that music can and should play a key role in our worship and its use has a firm basis in scripture. In fact, maybe it should play an even greater role, for example, some churches use musical instruments to underscore the teaching.

    #3. The statement “worship is not about me” is modern phraseology that means “the focus of worship is not me”. In this sense the statement is true. Certainly we are participants in the process, but the focus of worship is Jesus Christ. Without Him worship would have no point. 1 Cor 8:6

    #4A. Add one word to this statement and I would agree it’s a myth: Worship with hymns ALWAYS is deeper theologically than with modern music. The truth is, every song, hymn, chorus, or whatever needs to be evaluated on its own lyrical merits.
    #4B. Let’s separate songs of the church into two elements: music and lyrics. I would agree that Western music may not be the most efficacious vehicle to speak to other cultures. Certain forms of Western music don’t even speak to all the sub-cultures of our Western culture. However, if our hymns and choruses and whatever have accurate Biblical content, then when translated from English into the language of another culture, should convey the same knowledge and experience that it conveys to Western culture. There is only one God. Eph 4:6. So if White, European songs from 300 years ago do not give us a full picture of theology, it’s not because they are White, European, or 300 years old; it would be because they contain anemic lyrical content.

    #5A In one sense, I agree. Fully embracing your statement would mean during the musical segment of a worship service I should be as free to sit as still as a statue as I am to dance in the aisles. Maybe in a future post you could expand on your statement “why do we have so much legalism about how other people worship?” I’d be interested in your thoughts.
    #5B In another sense, I disagree. My dad cannot worship with guitar and drum music. He’s not saying that no one else can either, he’s simply saying he personally cannot. It has nothing to do with the music being ungodly; rather, it’s simply not his preference. Unless you want to make a case that he’s closed-minded (thereby forcing your musical worship style on him, the very thing being refuted), there truly exists a style of worship that’s better for him. The point is: A)that style is the worshipper’s free choice, it’s not to be forced upon him from the outside, and B)it isn’t the style per se that’s better, it’s the style’s fit upon the worshipper that’s better.

    #6. IMHO the end result of worship should make us feel good in the sense that we are satisfied. I agree, worship can be an outpouring of grief and sadness and through worship we might be made aware of sin, which should produce Godly sorrow. Maybe the realization will come that I need to walk out of the local worship service and fix something that I now realize needs fixing. Through the course of this though should come the realization that we have been repentant and subservient before God which should make us feel satisfied that to the best of our knowledge we have performed the commandments of God, thus expressing our love for Him. John 14:15

    Good stuff, Rich, thanks for stirring up the coals. We should all give this some thought and know why we do what we do. Sorry for this long post; I didn’t mean to make your blog my blog. God bless you, Bro.

  58. Hey Rich,You have a lot of good points; I see there is a lot of discussion. I know your point is to get us thinking; in that context I don’t agree that any of these six statements are myths. You have stated several contexts where these statements taken alone might be false, but there are also contexts where these statements are true.

    #1A. Our lifestyle will be a reflection of our beliefs, and if one of our beliefs is that we should be worshippers of Jesus Christ, then our lifestyle will unavoidably reflect our worship. A true lifestyle is an effect, not a cause. If one merely wears a lifestyle, whether it be worship or disco, that really isn’t a true lifestyle; rather it’s a pose of a lifestyle.
    #1B. Some will argue that mundane tasks can be acts of worship; I don’t disagree but I’m not going to argue that. Rather I will argue that every lifestyle will have its collection of mundane tasks: that neither proves nor refutes the alleged myth. If we assume that brushing your teeth is devoid of any worshipful qualities, it still doesn’t speak against worship being a lifestyle.

    #2. Worship can contain musical elements, but not all elements of worship are musical. The confusion arises out of what the modern church too many times labels worship. Not too many years ago the church service was called a worship service because all of the elements of the service were considered to be acts of worship. Our church had a music leader, not a worship leader. That clearly delineated the role without ascribing undue importance to a particular element. Giving a cup of cold water in His name is an act of worship, but no music is involved.

    I do agree that music can and should play a key role in our worship and its use has a firm basis in scripture. In fact, maybe it should play an even greater role, for example, some churches use musical instruments to underscore the teaching.

    #3. The statement “worship is not about me” is modern phraseology that means “the focus of worship is not me”. In this sense the statement is true. Certainly we are participants in the process, but the focus of worship is Jesus Christ. Without Him worship would have no point. 1 Cor 8:6

    #4A. Add one word to this statement and I would agree it’s a myth: Worship with hymns ALWAYS is deeper theologically than with modern music. The truth is, every song, hymn, chorus, or whatever needs to be evaluated on its own lyrical merits.
    #4B. Let’s separate songs of the church into two elements: music and lyrics. I would agree that Western music may not be the most efficacious vehicle to speak to other cultures. Certain forms of Western music don’t even speak to all the sub-cultures of our Western culture. However, if our hymns and choruses and whatever have accurate Biblical content, then when translated from English into the language of another culture, should convey the same knowledge and experience that it conveys to Western culture. There is only one God. Eph 4:6. So if White, European songs from 300 years ago do not give us a full picture of theology, it’s not because they are White, European, or 300 years old; it would be because they contain anemic lyrical content.

    #5A In one sense, I agree. Fully embracing your statement would mean during the musical segment of a worship service I should be as free to sit as still as a statue as I am to dance in the aisles. Maybe in a future post you could expand on your statement “why do we have so much legalism about how other people worship?” I’d be interested in your thoughts.
    #5B In another sense, I disagree. My dad cannot worship with guitar and drum music. He’s not saying that no one else can either, he’s simply saying he personally cannot. It has nothing to do with the music being ungodly; rather, it’s simply not his preference. Unless you want to make a case that he’s closed-minded (thereby forcing your musical worship style on him, the very thing being refuted), there truly exists a style of worship that’s better for him. The point is: A)that style is the worshipper’s free choice, it’s not to be forced upon him from the outside, and B)it isn’t the style per se that’s better, it’s the style’s fit upon the worshipper that’s better.

    #6. IMHO the end result of worship should make us feel good in the sense that we are satisfied. I agree, worship can be an outpouring of grief and sadness and through worship we might be made aware of sin, which should produce Godly sorrow. Maybe the realization will come that I need to walk out of the local worship service and fix something that I now realize needs fixing. Through the course of this though should come the realization that we have been repentant and subservient before God which should make us feel satisfied that to the best of our knowledge we have performed the commandments of God, thus expressing our love for Him. John 14:15

    Good stuff, Rich, thanks for stirring up the coals. We should all give this some thought and know why we do what we do. Sorry for this long post; I didn’t mean to make your blog my blog. God bless you, Bro.

  59. Hey Rich,You have a lot of good points; I see there is a lot of discussion. I know your point is to get us thinking; in that context I don’t agree that any of these six statements are myths. You have stated several contexts where these statements taken alone might be false, but there are also contexts where these statements are true.

    #1A. Our lifestyle will be a reflection of our beliefs, and if one of our beliefs is that we should be worshippers of Jesus Christ, then our lifestyle will unavoidably reflect our worship. A true lifestyle is an effect, not a cause. If one merely wears a lifestyle, whether it be worship or disco, that really isn’t a true lifestyle; rather it’s a pose of a lifestyle.
    #1B. Some will argue that mundane tasks can be acts of worship; I don’t disagree but I’m not going to argue that. Rather I will argue that every lifestyle will have its collection of mundane tasks: that neither proves nor refutes the alleged myth. If we assume that brushing your teeth is devoid of any worshipful qualities, it still doesn’t speak against worship being a lifestyle.

    #2. Worship can contain musical elements, but not all elements of worship are musical. The confusion arises out of what the modern church too many times labels worship. Not too many years ago the church service was called a worship service because all of the elements of the service were considered to be acts of worship. Our church had a music leader, not a worship leader. That clearly delineated the role without ascribing undue importance to a particular element. Giving a cup of cold water in His name is an act of worship, but no music is involved.

    I do agree that music can and should play a key role in our worship and its use has a firm basis in scripture. In fact, maybe it should play an even greater role, for example, some churches use musical instruments to underscore the teaching.

    #3. The statement “worship is not about me” is modern phraseology that means “the focus of worship is not me”. In this sense the statement is true. Certainly we are participants in the process, but the focus of worship is Jesus Christ. Without Him worship would have no point. 1 Cor 8:6

    #4A. Add one word to this statement and I would agree it’s a myth: Worship with hymns ALWAYS is deeper theologically than with modern music. The truth is, every song, hymn, chorus, or whatever needs to be evaluated on its own lyrical merits.
    #4B. Let’s separate songs of the church into two elements: music and lyrics. I would agree that Western music may not be the most efficacious vehicle to speak to other cultures. Certain forms of Western music don’t even speak to all the sub-cultures of our Western culture. However, if our hymns and choruses and whatever have accurate Biblical content, then when translated from English into the language of another culture, should convey the same knowledge and experience that it conveys to Western culture. There is only one God. Eph 4:6. So if White, European songs from 300 years ago do not give us a full picture of theology, it’s not because they are White, European, or 300 years old; it would be because they contain anemic lyrical content.

    #5A In one sense, I agree. Fully embracing your statement would mean during the musical segment of a worship service I should be as free to sit as still as a statue as I am to dance in the aisles. Maybe in a future post you could expand on your statement “why do we have so much legalism about how other people worship?” I’d be interested in your thoughts.
    #5B In another sense, I disagree. My dad cannot worship with guitar and drum music. He’s not saying that no one else can either, he’s simply saying he personally cannot. It has nothing to do with the music being ungodly; rather, it’s simply not his preference. Unless you want to make a case that he’s closed-minded (thereby forcing your musical worship style on him, the very thing being refuted), there truly exists a style of worship that’s better for him. The point is: A)that style is the worshipper’s free choice, it’s not to be forced upon him from the outside, and B)it isn’t the style per se that’s better, it’s the style’s fit upon the worshipper that’s better.

    #6. IMHO the end result of worship should make us feel good in the sense that we are satisfied. I agree, worship can be an outpouring of grief and sadness and through worship we might be made aware of sin, which should produce Godly sorrow. Maybe the realization will come that I need to walk out of the local worship service and fix something that I now realize needs fixing. Through the course of this though should come the realization that we have been repentant and subservient before God which should make us feel satisfied that to the best of our knowledge we have performed the commandments of God, thus expressing our love for Him. John 14:15

    Good stuff, Rich, thanks for stirring up the coals. We should all give this some thought and know why we do what we do. Sorry for this long post; I didn’t mean to make your blog my blog. God bless you, Bro.

  60. Hey Rich,You have a lot of good points; I see there is a lot of discussion. I know your point is to get us thinking; in that context I don’t agree that any of these six statements are myths. You have stated several contexts where these statements taken alone might be false, but there are also contexts where these statements are true.

    #1A. Our lifestyle will be a reflection of our beliefs, and if one of our beliefs is that we should be worshippers of Jesus Christ, then our lifestyle will unavoidably reflect our worship. A true lifestyle is an effect, not a cause. If one merely wears a lifestyle, whether it be worship or disco, that really isn’t a true lifestyle; rather it’s a pose of a lifestyle.
    #1B. Some will argue that mundane tasks can be acts of worship; I don’t disagree but I’m not going to argue that. Rather I will argue that every lifestyle will have its collection of mundane tasks: that neither proves nor refutes the alleged myth. If we assume that brushing your teeth is devoid of any worshipful qualities, it still doesn’t speak against worship being a lifestyle.

    #2. Worship can contain musical elements, but not all elements of worship are musical. The confusion arises out of what the modern church too many times labels worship. Not too many years ago the church service was called a worship service because all of the elements of the service were considered to be acts of worship. Our church had a music leader, not a worship leader. That clearly delineated the role without ascribing undue importance to a particular element. Giving a cup of cold water in His name is an act of worship, but no music is involved.

    I do agree that music can and should play a key role in our worship and its use has a firm basis in scripture. In fact, maybe it should play an even greater role, for example, some churches use musical instruments to underscore the teaching.

    #3. The statement “worship is not about me” is modern phraseology that means “the focus of worship is not me”. In this sense the statement is true. Certainly we are participants in the process, but the focus of worship is Jesus Christ. Without Him worship would have no point. 1 Cor 8:6

    #4A. Add one word to this statement and I would agree it’s a myth: Worship with hymns ALWAYS is deeper theologically than with modern music. The truth is, every song, hymn, chorus, or whatever needs to be evaluated on its own lyrical merits.
    #4B. Let’s separate songs of the church into two elements: music and lyrics. I would agree that Western music may not be the most efficacious vehicle to speak to other cultures. Certain forms of Western music don’t even speak to all the sub-cultures of our Western culture. However, if our hymns and choruses and whatever have accurate Biblical content, then when translated from English into the language of another culture, should convey the same knowledge and experience that it conveys to Western culture. There is only one God. Eph 4:6. So if White, European songs from 300 years ago do not give us a full picture of theology, it’s not because they are White, European, or 300 years old; it would be because they contain anemic lyrical content.

    #5A In one sense, I agree. Fully embracing your statement would mean during the musical segment of a worship service I should be as free to sit as still as a statue as I am to dance in the aisles. Maybe in a future post you could expand on your statement “why do we have so much legalism about how other people worship?” I’d be interested in your thoughts.
    #5B In another sense, I disagree. My dad cannot worship with guitar and drum music. He’s not saying that no one else can either, he’s simply saying he personally cannot. It has nothing to do with the music being ungodly; rather, it’s simply not his preference. Unless you want to make a case that he’s closed-minded (thereby forcing your musical worship style on him, the very thing being refuted), there truly exists a style of worship that’s better for him. The point is: A)that style is the worshipper’s free choice, it’s not to be forced upon him from the outside, and B)it isn’t the style per se that’s better, it’s the style’s fit upon the worshipper that’s better.

    #6. IMHO the end result of worship should make us feel good in the sense that we are satisfied. I agree, worship can be an outpouring of grief and sadness and through worship we might be made aware of sin, which should produce Godly sorrow. Maybe the realization will come that I need to walk out of the local worship service and fix something that I now realize needs fixing. Through the course of this though should come the realization that we have been repentant and subservient before God which should make us feel satisfied that to the best of our knowledge we have performed the commandments of God, thus expressing our love for Him. John 14:15

    Good stuff, Rich, thanks for stirring up the coals. We should all give this some thought and know why we do what we do. Sorry for this long post; I didn’t mean to make your blog my blog. God bless you, Bro.

  61. Mark says: “As you point out, “lifestyle” may not be the best word to describe that concept, but I still think it’s a crucial revelation that we all need to have t some point in our journeys.”
    Amen. The pendulum has swung where in the praise and worship movement of the 80s prophetic voices were rightly calling us to value the concept of worship outside of our liturgy. Now, I see some in our culture use this as an excuse to devalue the mystery and power in corporate worship by thinking everything else is worship, so they excuse themselves from the need to come to a church or service. A new day and time.

    Dan says: “Good stuff, Rich, thanks for stirring up the coals. We should all give this some thought and know why we do what we do. Sorry for this long post; I didn’t mean to make your blog my blog. God bless you, Bro.”

    Dan! You NEED to start a blog. Great argumentation. One thing that is clear is how unclear and fuzzy things are in how to have this conversation. The idea of WORSHIP is one thing while the PRACTICE of LITURGY or public worship is another. If you take what I am saying in the context of the latter, it might change a couple of your points.

    I DO believe these are myths since they (and some new ones I will unfold later) have lost their original meaning, or have at times been counterproductive to making people really think about our liturgy/public worship. They become misnomers and even though they can be said to be true in some instances or context, the point is that how many use them is false . Besides, no one would really care to read this if I called them “sort-of-problematic-trite-sayings that might at times in some context confuse our thinking about public worship”! 🙂

    I am so HAPPY that people are thinking about this stuff and conversing on my blog!

  62. Mark says: “As you point out, “lifestyle” may not be the best word to describe that concept, but I still think it’s a crucial revelation that we all need to have t some point in our journeys.”
    Amen. The pendulum has swung where in the praise and worship movement of the 80s prophetic voices were rightly calling us to value the concept of worship outside of our liturgy. Now, I see some in our culture use this as an excuse to devalue the mystery and power in corporate worship by thinking everything else is worship, so they excuse themselves from the need to come to a church or service. A new day and time.

    Dan says: “Good stuff, Rich, thanks for stirring up the coals. We should all give this some thought and know why we do what we do. Sorry for this long post; I didn’t mean to make your blog my blog. God bless you, Bro.”

    Dan! You NEED to start a blog. Great argumentation. One thing that is clear is how unclear and fuzzy things are in how to have this conversation. The idea of WORSHIP is one thing while the PRACTICE of LITURGY or public worship is another. If you take what I am saying in the context of the latter, it might change a couple of your points.

    I DO believe these are myths since they (and some new ones I will unfold later) have lost their original meaning, or have at times been counterproductive to making people really think about our liturgy/public worship. They become misnomers and even though they can be said to be true in some instances or context, the point is that how many use them is false . Besides, no one would really care to read this if I called them “sort-of-problematic-trite-sayings that might at times in some context confuse our thinking about public worship”! 🙂

    I am so HAPPY that people are thinking about this stuff and conversing on my blog!

  63. Mark says: “As you point out, “lifestyle” may not be the best word to describe that concept, but I still think it’s a crucial revelation that we all need to have t some point in our journeys.”
    Amen. The pendulum has swung where in the praise and worship movement of the 80s prophetic voices were rightly calling us to value the concept of worship outside of our liturgy. Now, I see some in our culture use this as an excuse to devalue the mystery and power in corporate worship by thinking everything else is worship, so they excuse themselves from the need to come to a church or service. A new day and time.

    Dan says: “Good stuff, Rich, thanks for stirring up the coals. We should all give this some thought and know why we do what we do. Sorry for this long post; I didn’t mean to make your blog my blog. God bless you, Bro.”

    Dan! You NEED to start a blog. Great argumentation. One thing that is clear is how unclear and fuzzy things are in how to have this conversation. The idea of WORSHIP is one thing while the PRACTICE of LITURGY or public worship is another. If you take what I am saying in the context of the latter, it might change a couple of your points.

    I DO believe these are myths since they (and some new ones I will unfold later) have lost their original meaning, or have at times been counterproductive to making people really think about our liturgy/public worship. They become misnomers and even though they can be said to be true in some instances or context, the point is that how many use them is false . Besides, no one would really care to read this if I called them “sort-of-problematic-trite-sayings that might at times in some context confuse our thinking about public worship”! 🙂

    I am so HAPPY that people are thinking about this stuff and conversing on my blog!

  64. Mark says: “As you point out, “lifestyle” may not be the best word to describe that concept, but I still think it’s a crucial revelation that we all need to have t some point in our journeys.”
    Amen. The pendulum has swung where in the praise and worship movement of the 80s prophetic voices were rightly calling us to value the concept of worship outside of our liturgy. Now, I see some in our culture use this as an excuse to devalue the mystery and power in corporate worship by thinking everything else is worship, so they excuse themselves from the need to come to a church or service. A new day and time.

    Dan says: “Good stuff, Rich, thanks for stirring up the coals. We should all give this some thought and know why we do what we do. Sorry for this long post; I didn’t mean to make your blog my blog. God bless you, Bro.”

    Dan! You NEED to start a blog. Great argumentation. One thing that is clear is how unclear and fuzzy things are in how to have this conversation. The idea of WORSHIP is one thing while the PRACTICE of LITURGY or public worship is another. If you take what I am saying in the context of the latter, it might change a couple of your points.

    I DO believe these are myths since they (and some new ones I will unfold later) have lost their original meaning, or have at times been counterproductive to making people really think about our liturgy/public worship. They become misnomers and even though they can be said to be true in some instances or context, the point is that how many use them is false . Besides, no one would really care to read this if I called them “sort-of-problematic-trite-sayings that might at times in some context confuse our thinking about public worship”! 🙂

    I am so HAPPY that people are thinking about this stuff and conversing on my blog!

  65. A ton of great discussion here, let me provoke a little thought that might not be getting so much attention as the rest: worship STYLE. I’ve been battling this thought for a while now: worship STYLE is important, because part of worship (as discussed) is bringing myself to the table which is human and fleshly and selfish etc. I don’t think GOD has a style preference. And I don’t think that one style over another is “better” than another style. BUT I do know that 1 style is better for me: Conner, the 28 year old musician in Southern Louisiana to worship to. Music is emotional! And there’s something special that a certain style ignites in my chest that others do not.I thought that would tie in your Worship About Me and Worship Style, or maybe I misread Worship Style? Regardless, I’m curious your thoughts!

  66. A ton of great discussion here, let me provoke a little thought that might not be getting so much attention as the rest: worship STYLE. I’ve been battling this thought for a while now: worship STYLE is important, because part of worship (as discussed) is bringing myself to the table which is human and fleshly and selfish etc. I don’t think GOD has a style preference. And I don’t think that one style over another is “better” than another style. BUT I do know that 1 style is better for me: Conner, the 28 year old musician in Southern Louisiana to worship to. Music is emotional! And there’s something special that a certain style ignites in my chest that others do not.I thought that would tie in your Worship About Me and Worship Style, or maybe I misread Worship Style? Regardless, I’m curious your thoughts!

  67. A ton of great discussion here, let me provoke a little thought that might not be getting so much attention as the rest: worship STYLE. I’ve been battling this thought for a while now: worship STYLE is important, because part of worship (as discussed) is bringing myself to the table which is human and fleshly and selfish etc. I don’t think GOD has a style preference. And I don’t think that one style over another is “better” than another style. BUT I do know that 1 style is better for me: Conner, the 28 year old musician in Southern Louisiana to worship to. Music is emotional! And there’s something special that a certain style ignites in my chest that others do not.I thought that would tie in your Worship About Me and Worship Style, or maybe I misread Worship Style? Regardless, I’m curious your thoughts!

  68. A ton of great discussion here, let me provoke a little thought that might not be getting so much attention as the rest: worship STYLE. I’ve been battling this thought for a while now: worship STYLE is important, because part of worship (as discussed) is bringing myself to the table which is human and fleshly and selfish etc. I don’t think GOD has a style preference. And I don’t think that one style over another is “better” than another style. BUT I do know that 1 style is better for me: Conner, the 28 year old musician in Southern Louisiana to worship to. Music is emotional! And there’s something special that a certain style ignites in my chest that others do not.I thought that would tie in your Worship About Me and Worship Style, or maybe I misread Worship Style? Regardless, I’m curious your thoughts!

  69. Conner,
    My point was “legalism about how OTHER people worship” as far as the style point. I do think we all have a style, form, setting and such that seems to click or not click. What is important is to be open to the idea that it is not wrong for a person to have something opposite than you or I would like. It means somehow valuing that there are different expression–culturally, demographically and personally.

    God does not have a style preference, but WE DO. Therein lies the problem! What we do with that is important.

    On other thought. Music is as much sensual and intellectual as emotional. So, it is not just the emotional reaction, but even preferred physical response. Sound “touches” and some want that to feel less or more, etc. That is not necessarily emotional, but certainly results in emotion.

    The same is true of intellect. The art of music can actually shape the way we think! So, content and phrasing matter. I am saying all this to make a point about the fact that emotions are not a reason as much as an indicator of many factors that go into how we present our worship services. People will certainly feel, but it comes from the choices people make about the whole encounter.

    I think the more mature we get, the more we have to be willing to transcend the need for our style to be catered to in order to make way for the newer believers. (That is a whole post right there).

  70. Conner,
    My point was “legalism about how OTHER people worship” as far as the style point. I do think we all have a style, form, setting and such that seems to click or not click. What is important is to be open to the idea that it is not wrong for a person to have something opposite than you or I would like. It means somehow valuing that there are different expression–culturally, demographically and personally.

    God does not have a style preference, but WE DO. Therein lies the problem! What we do with that is important.

    On other thought. Music is as much sensual and intellectual as emotional. So, it is not just the emotional reaction, but even preferred physical response. Sound “touches” and some want that to feel less or more, etc. That is not necessarily emotional, but certainly results in emotion.

    The same is true of intellect. The art of music can actually shape the way we think! So, content and phrasing matter. I am saying all this to make a point about the fact that emotions are not a reason as much as an indicator of many factors that go into how we present our worship services. People will certainly feel, but it comes from the choices people make about the whole encounter.

    I think the more mature we get, the more we have to be willing to transcend the need for our style to be catered to in order to make way for the newer believers. (That is a whole post right there).

  71. Conner,
    My point was “legalism about how OTHER people worship” as far as the style point. I do think we all have a style, form, setting and such that seems to click or not click. What is important is to be open to the idea that it is not wrong for a person to have something opposite than you or I would like. It means somehow valuing that there are different expression–culturally, demographically and personally.

    God does not have a style preference, but WE DO. Therein lies the problem! What we do with that is important.

    On other thought. Music is as much sensual and intellectual as emotional. So, it is not just the emotional reaction, but even preferred physical response. Sound “touches” and some want that to feel less or more, etc. That is not necessarily emotional, but certainly results in emotion.

    The same is true of intellect. The art of music can actually shape the way we think! So, content and phrasing matter. I am saying all this to make a point about the fact that emotions are not a reason as much as an indicator of many factors that go into how we present our worship services. People will certainly feel, but it comes from the choices people make about the whole encounter.

    I think the more mature we get, the more we have to be willing to transcend the need for our style to be catered to in order to make way for the newer believers. (That is a whole post right there).

  72. Conner,
    My point was “legalism about how OTHER people worship” as far as the style point. I do think we all have a style, form, setting and such that seems to click or not click. What is important is to be open to the idea that it is not wrong for a person to have something opposite than you or I would like. It means somehow valuing that there are different expression–culturally, demographically and personally.

    God does not have a style preference, but WE DO. Therein lies the problem! What we do with that is important.

    On other thought. Music is as much sensual and intellectual as emotional. So, it is not just the emotional reaction, but even preferred physical response. Sound “touches” and some want that to feel less or more, etc. That is not necessarily emotional, but certainly results in emotion.

    The same is true of intellect. The art of music can actually shape the way we think! So, content and phrasing matter. I am saying all this to make a point about the fact that emotions are not a reason as much as an indicator of many factors that go into how we present our worship services. People will certainly feel, but it comes from the choices people make about the whole encounter.

    I think the more mature we get, the more we have to be willing to transcend the need for our style to be catered to in order to make way for the newer believers. (That is a whole post right there).

  73. I have greatly enjoyed your thoughts here and from one (although currently unemployed) worship minister to another… preach it brother! For far too long, church members, worship leanders, preachers and many others have been far too careless with how and what they deem as worship.

  74. I have greatly enjoyed your thoughts here and from one (although currently unemployed) worship minister to another… preach it brother! For far too long, church members, worship leanders, preachers and many others have been far too careless with how and what they deem as worship.

  75. I have greatly enjoyed your thoughts here and from one (although currently unemployed) worship minister to another… preach it brother! For far too long, church members, worship leanders, preachers and many others have been far too careless with how and what they deem as worship.

  76. I have greatly enjoyed your thoughts here and from one (although currently unemployed) worship minister to another… preach it brother! For far too long, church members, worship leanders, preachers and many others have been far too careless with how and what they deem as worship.

  77. Rich,
    I think the Psalms are tremendoulsly instructive to us. We tend to think of everyone “back then” as living in a monoculture. I’m sure the reality was far different. If you look at Psalm 90, written by Moses, and Psalm 137 from the Babylonian captivity, there is a span of nearly 1000 years. Though the times and places varied greatly, the Psalms were added to one another and sung regularly. Some are new, but many look to the past (Psalm 95). Jesus probably sang Psalm 118 at the Last Supper. It is interesting that that the Psalter was closed to addition by the time of Christ, but you probably don’t want to go there:-)

    Can we say that our music reflects the themes of the Psalms (think carefully about this one), their example of continuity from age to age, and their vivid language?

  78. Rich,
    I think the Psalms are tremendoulsly instructive to us. We tend to think of everyone “back then” as living in a monoculture. I’m sure the reality was far different. If you look at Psalm 90, written by Moses, and Psalm 137 from the Babylonian captivity, there is a span of nearly 1000 years. Though the times and places varied greatly, the Psalms were added to one another and sung regularly. Some are new, but many look to the past (Psalm 95). Jesus probably sang Psalm 118 at the Last Supper. It is interesting that that the Psalter was closed to addition by the time of Christ, but you probably don’t want to go there:-)

    Can we say that our music reflects the themes of the Psalms (think carefully about this one), their example of continuity from age to age, and their vivid language?

  79. Rich,
    I think the Psalms are tremendoulsly instructive to us. We tend to think of everyone “back then” as living in a monoculture. I’m sure the reality was far different. If you look at Psalm 90, written by Moses, and Psalm 137 from the Babylonian captivity, there is a span of nearly 1000 years. Though the times and places varied greatly, the Psalms were added to one another and sung regularly. Some are new, but many look to the past (Psalm 95). Jesus probably sang Psalm 118 at the Last Supper. It is interesting that that the Psalter was closed to addition by the time of Christ, but you probably don’t want to go there:-)

    Can we say that our music reflects the themes of the Psalms (think carefully about this one), their example of continuity from age to age, and their vivid language?

  80. Rich,
    I think the Psalms are tremendoulsly instructive to us. We tend to think of everyone “back then” as living in a monoculture. I’m sure the reality was far different. If you look at Psalm 90, written by Moses, and Psalm 137 from the Babylonian captivity, there is a span of nearly 1000 years. Though the times and places varied greatly, the Psalms were added to one another and sung regularly. Some are new, but many look to the past (Psalm 95). Jesus probably sang Psalm 118 at the Last Supper. It is interesting that that the Psalter was closed to addition by the time of Christ, but you probably don’t want to go there:-)

    Can we say that our music reflects the themes of the Psalms (think carefully about this one), their example of continuity from age to age, and their vivid language?

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