Worship Mythbusters: The Myth of A Painless Offering of Worship

I am finally beginning another set of posts in the Worship Mythbusters series here on the RKWL. Just a reminder: when I use the term worship I am speaking of “liturgy” or our public expression of worship. So for the sake of this discussion “worship” = what we do together in our weekend gatherings.
Here are some statements I might call myths.

“Worship should be easy.  I mean, if it is work, then something is wrong.”

“I am just not feeling it today.  This can’t be worship.”

“This is just not hitting with these songs.

“They seem to always be asking for something… money, serving.”

The myth is that our worship expression somehow should be painless. If our gatherings have discomfort from an off singer, room temperature, too much or lack of volume, new songs, old songs, or less than desirable leadership then we seem entitled to not just complain but categorize such an experience as not a “real” worship experience. After all, it should not take work. It needs to be painless, right?

How about suffering? How about the idea of cost? It appears that the process of entering into worship might not always be an easy path. I am not saying we try to make it hard.  I am saying that our thinking that it is painless goes against the very act of worship and how life works in general.  I am also assuming that perhaps there indeed are times when things just flow and we get captivated in the moment.  But, is that really how it is all the time?

Sacrifice of praise verses painless offering: Hebrews 13:5

It is quite interesting to read that “continually” offering of a sacrifice of praise is in order. This must mean that somehow our praises themselves are a point of cost.  The word “sacrifice” here simply is that we are making an offering. Generally, offerings are of something precious and costly. Certainly not painless. And, this is “fruit of our lips” which gives me the impression that even our words or songs of praise might cost us.

Abraham offering his son Isaac. Genesis 22:2

When Abraham was asked by God to offer his son Isaac as an offering to Him we find that Abraham’s precious heir was put on an altar.  Now, in this story we know that God provided an animal instead.  We see the theological concept of “propitiation” delivered in this narrative.  Worship asks for a sacrifice.  Ultimately, Jesus was the son needed to pay for our debt of sin.  The cost of Jesus for us hardly can be quantified.  Abraham understood that cost perhaps better than you and I.

David paid for his own sacrifice. 2 Samuel 24:18-24

Sometimes a friend might want to help us out and give us the resources for our offering.  David refused.  He would not take the cattle. He insisted on purchasing his own sacrifice.  David said in response to the gift, “..for I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost [me] nothing”  Worship costs. It is not painless.

In fact, do we sometimes come and watch the worship team do their thing and call that worship? Really. If we offer nothing, are we really worshipping? Vicariously enjoying the environment in a weekend service pales compared to you and I engaging and offering up something that costs.  Following David’s example, we should own our responsibility to offer up a sacrifice rather than let our parents, kids, pastor or worship team do it and claim it as ours.

What do you think:  should our worship services always be painless or should an actually cost be involved?  Is this cost painless or not?

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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.

52 comments

  1. What a wonderful post. Yes. Undeniably worship is an offering and as such, must cost the giver. If we give an offering that is “costless” there is no honor in giving it, is there? I’ve often argued that the greatest ingredient needed for a passionate time of worship is people passionately engaged with God. Let’s be real, many of our times of most passionate engagement are in times that are difficult.
    I think when we are spoon fed in our times of worship we end up being worship connisuers (sp) or worship “junkies” – the worship becomes about US, not about GOD.

  2. What a wonderful post. Yes. Undeniably worship is an offering and as such, must cost the giver. If we give an offering that is “costless” there is no honor in giving it, is there? I’ve often argued that the greatest ingredient needed for a passionate time of worship is people passionately engaged with God. Let’s be real, many of our times of most passionate engagement are in times that are difficult.
    I think when we are spoon fed in our times of worship we end up being worship connisuers (sp) or worship “junkies” – the worship becomes about US, not about GOD.

  3. What a wonderful post. Yes. Undeniably worship is an offering and as such, must cost the giver. If we give an offering that is “costless” there is no honor in giving it, is there? I’ve often argued that the greatest ingredient needed for a passionate time of worship is people passionately engaged with God. Let’s be real, many of our times of most passionate engagement are in times that are difficult.
    I think when we are spoon fed in our times of worship we end up being worship connisuers (sp) or worship “junkies” – the worship becomes about US, not about GOD.

  4. What a wonderful post. Yes. Undeniably worship is an offering and as such, must cost the giver. If we give an offering that is “costless” there is no honor in giving it, is there? I’ve often argued that the greatest ingredient needed for a passionate time of worship is people passionately engaged with God. Let’s be real, many of our times of most passionate engagement are in times that are difficult.
    I think when we are spoon fed in our times of worship we end up being worship connisuers (sp) or worship “junkies” – the worship becomes about US, not about GOD.

  5. I did this call to worship on worship as sacrifice once at our church. It talked about how a form of worship for the Israelites was to sacrifice an animal or grain, which was part of their income and wealth, giving up something you need to sell or eat is hard. We don’t do that anymore, we sing our worship, song touches our emotions. We should put our emotion into worship. God made us to worship and God made us with emotion, we are no Vulcans so use those emotions and pour your heart into the song, be it joy, sorrow, angst, anything. Good post Pastor Rich!

  6. I did this call to worship on worship as sacrifice once at our church. It talked about how a form of worship for the Israelites was to sacrifice an animal or grain, which was part of their income and wealth, giving up something you need to sell or eat is hard. We don’t do that anymore, we sing our worship, song touches our emotions. We should put our emotion into worship. God made us to worship and God made us with emotion, we are no Vulcans so use those emotions and pour your heart into the song, be it joy, sorrow, angst, anything. Good post Pastor Rich!

  7. I did this call to worship on worship as sacrifice once at our church. It talked about how a form of worship for the Israelites was to sacrifice an animal or grain, which was part of their income and wealth, giving up something you need to sell or eat is hard. We don’t do that anymore, we sing our worship, song touches our emotions. We should put our emotion into worship. God made us to worship and God made us with emotion, we are no Vulcans so use those emotions and pour your heart into the song, be it joy, sorrow, angst, anything. Good post Pastor Rich!

  8. I did this call to worship on worship as sacrifice once at our church. It talked about how a form of worship for the Israelites was to sacrifice an animal or grain, which was part of their income and wealth, giving up something you need to sell or eat is hard. We don’t do that anymore, we sing our worship, song touches our emotions. We should put our emotion into worship. God made us to worship and God made us with emotion, we are no Vulcans so use those emotions and pour your heart into the song, be it joy, sorrow, angst, anything. Good post Pastor Rich!

  9. Painless is perhaps an inappropriate word from my point of view. I like how Jan Owen used the word “costless” and I’d like to throw out the word “effortless.” I don’t think that pain is a necessity to worship but I do see the requisite cost and effort to worship God.

  10. Painless is perhaps an inappropriate word from my point of view. I like how Jan Owen used the word “costless” and I’d like to throw out the word “effortless.” I don’t think that pain is a necessity to worship but I do see the requisite cost and effort to worship God.

  11. Painless is perhaps an inappropriate word from my point of view. I like how Jan Owen used the word “costless” and I’d like to throw out the word “effortless.” I don’t think that pain is a necessity to worship but I do see the requisite cost and effort to worship God.

  12. Painless is perhaps an inappropriate word from my point of view. I like how Jan Owen used the word “costless” and I’d like to throw out the word “effortless.” I don’t think that pain is a necessity to worship but I do see the requisite cost and effort to worship God.

  13. Ah… good point Jeremy. In the next couple of posts, even you might change your mind. Think of pain not being a negative in this case. as is our culture. The widow giving her mite paid a high price–perhaps painful. Think of the fact that cost=pain. Dieting? Exercise? Study?
    The question is this: does the cost in worship have to be painful? If not, why? If so, why? I really would like to challenge how we think of that.

  14. Ah… good point Jeremy. In the next couple of posts, even you might change your mind. Think of pain not being a negative in this case. as is our culture. The widow giving her mite paid a high price–perhaps painful. Think of the fact that cost=pain. Dieting? Exercise? Study?
    The question is this: does the cost in worship have to be painful? If not, why? If so, why? I really would like to challenge how we think of that.

  15. Ah… good point Jeremy. In the next couple of posts, even you might change your mind. Think of pain not being a negative in this case. as is our culture. The widow giving her mite paid a high price–perhaps painful. Think of the fact that cost=pain. Dieting? Exercise? Study?
    The question is this: does the cost in worship have to be painful? If not, why? If so, why? I really would like to challenge how we think of that.

  16. Ah… good point Jeremy. In the next couple of posts, even you might change your mind. Think of pain not being a negative in this case. as is our culture. The widow giving her mite paid a high price–perhaps painful. Think of the fact that cost=pain. Dieting? Exercise? Study?
    The question is this: does the cost in worship have to be painful? If not, why? If so, why? I really would like to challenge how we think of that.

  17. I saw a video with Bono quoting some philanthropist, business success (who is famous, so I should remember). His take on business and philanthropy was, “Don’t make it too easy for people. Because, really, they don’t want it to be easy.”
    From that standpoint, people engage better when they are asked to do more. That’s not necessarily the same thing as pain, so I look forward to your next posts.

  18. I saw a video with Bono quoting some philanthropist, business success (who is famous, so I should remember). His take on business and philanthropy was, “Don’t make it too easy for people. Because, really, they don’t want it to be easy.”
    From that standpoint, people engage better when they are asked to do more. That’s not necessarily the same thing as pain, so I look forward to your next posts.

  19. I saw a video with Bono quoting some philanthropist, business success (who is famous, so I should remember). His take on business and philanthropy was, “Don’t make it too easy for people. Because, really, they don’t want it to be easy.”
    From that standpoint, people engage better when they are asked to do more. That’s not necessarily the same thing as pain, so I look forward to your next posts.

  20. I saw a video with Bono quoting some philanthropist, business success (who is famous, so I should remember). His take on business and philanthropy was, “Don’t make it too easy for people. Because, really, they don’t want it to be easy.”
    From that standpoint, people engage better when they are asked to do more. That’s not necessarily the same thing as pain, so I look forward to your next posts.

  21. how can worship be something (where even if we actively participate) that costs us anything if our service is so streamlined, timed, choreographed, practiced and otherwise put together ? do i think we (worship leaders, etc) should present to God each week our best effort of the gifts He gave us? yes. do i think that sometimes we box ourselves in especially when it comes to time? yes balance? ahhhh there’s the rub

  22. how can worship be something (where even if we actively participate) that costs us anything if our service is so streamlined, timed, choreographed, practiced and otherwise put together ? do i think we (worship leaders, etc) should present to God each week our best effort of the gifts He gave us? yes. do i think that sometimes we box ourselves in especially when it comes to time? yes balance? ahhhh there’s the rub

  23. how can worship be something (where even if we actively participate) that costs us anything if our service is so streamlined, timed, choreographed, practiced and otherwise put together ? do i think we (worship leaders, etc) should present to God each week our best effort of the gifts He gave us? yes. do i think that sometimes we box ourselves in especially when it comes to time? yes balance? ahhhh there’s the rub

  24. how can worship be something (where even if we actively participate) that costs us anything if our service is so streamlined, timed, choreographed, practiced and otherwise put together ? do i think we (worship leaders, etc) should present to God each week our best effort of the gifts He gave us? yes. do i think that sometimes we box ourselves in especially when it comes to time? yes balance? ahhhh there’s the rub

  25. There is another worship mythbuster coming about “order” and “structure” in worship. For the sake of our discussion about cost, I believe our planning is part of the pain/cost we have to endure. The heat of the kitchen makes for a good meal. Why would our efforts be anything but painless in anything we prepare, make, plan or create?

  26. There is another worship mythbuster coming about “order” and “structure” in worship. For the sake of our discussion about cost, I believe our planning is part of the pain/cost we have to endure. The heat of the kitchen makes for a good meal. Why would our efforts be anything but painless in anything we prepare, make, plan or create?

  27. There is another worship mythbuster coming about “order” and “structure” in worship. For the sake of our discussion about cost, I believe our planning is part of the pain/cost we have to endure. The heat of the kitchen makes for a good meal. Why would our efforts be anything but painless in anything we prepare, make, plan or create?

  28. There is another worship mythbuster coming about “order” and “structure” in worship. For the sake of our discussion about cost, I believe our planning is part of the pain/cost we have to endure. The heat of the kitchen makes for a good meal. Why would our efforts be anything but painless in anything we prepare, make, plan or create?

  29. yes, for those of us “in the kitchen” there is certainly a cost…….but once the food is on the table what cost is there for those who “just partake”. i think the acts 2 worship participants came together communally everyone bringing something….but we seldom “allow” that participation anymore. hmmmmmmmmmm

  30. yes, for those of us “in the kitchen” there is certainly a cost…….but once the food is on the table what cost is there for those who “just partake”. i think the acts 2 worship participants came together communally everyone bringing something….but we seldom “allow” that participation anymore. hmmmmmmmmmm

  31. yes, for those of us “in the kitchen” there is certainly a cost…….but once the food is on the table what cost is there for those who “just partake”. i think the acts 2 worship participants came together communally everyone bringing something….but we seldom “allow” that participation anymore. hmmmmmmmmmm

  32. yes, for those of us “in the kitchen” there is certainly a cost…….but once the food is on the table what cost is there for those who “just partake”. i think the acts 2 worship participants came together communally everyone bringing something….but we seldom “allow” that participation anymore. hmmmmmmmmmm

  33. when i go to worship,i cry.everytime i try and sing,i weep.i’m not sure about all your opinions or post,i just breifly read one,since i’m not very computer literate.for me,worshiping God is very painful in many different aspects.standing before God weak,vunerable and then praising Him,in my everymoment voyage till i reach home,into His merciful arms finally keeping to the race and goal.how could that not be painful.why does noone else cry?am i a wimp?of course i don’t attend your church,but….does anyone else you know,cry at His feet,litarally????

  34. when i go to worship,i cry.everytime i try and sing,i weep.i’m not sure about all your opinions or post,i just breifly read one,since i’m not very computer literate.for me,worshiping God is very painful in many different aspects.standing before God weak,vunerable and then praising Him,in my everymoment voyage till i reach home,into His merciful arms finally keeping to the race and goal.how could that not be painful.why does noone else cry?am i a wimp?of course i don’t attend your church,but….does anyone else you know,cry at His feet,litarally????

  35. when i go to worship,i cry.everytime i try and sing,i weep.i’m not sure about all your opinions or post,i just breifly read one,since i’m not very computer literate.for me,worshiping God is very painful in many different aspects.standing before God weak,vunerable and then praising Him,in my everymoment voyage till i reach home,into His merciful arms finally keeping to the race and goal.how could that not be painful.why does noone else cry?am i a wimp?of course i don’t attend your church,but….does anyone else you know,cry at His feet,litarally????

  36. when i go to worship,i cry.everytime i try and sing,i weep.i’m not sure about all your opinions or post,i just breifly read one,since i’m not very computer literate.for me,worshiping God is very painful in many different aspects.standing before God weak,vunerable and then praising Him,in my everymoment voyage till i reach home,into His merciful arms finally keeping to the race and goal.how could that not be painful.why does noone else cry?am i a wimp?of course i don’t attend your church,but….does anyone else you know,cry at His feet,litarally????

  37. I’m just now catching up on this conversation. I find it interesting that Biblical examples of worship involved giving the first fruits of one’s seasonal labor (i.e. from the land, or from the herd). But for us it’s become more of a participatory musical concert. In many cases (and I’m talking about the congregation, not leadership) it’s about what we get out of it, not what we bring to it. You hear this language in the way people talk about how they choose churches. And why they stay. It’s really sort of sad.

  38. I’m just now catching up on this conversation. I find it interesting that Biblical examples of worship involved giving the first fruits of one’s seasonal labor (i.e. from the land, or from the herd). But for us it’s become more of a participatory musical concert. In many cases (and I’m talking about the congregation, not leadership) it’s about what we get out of it, not what we bring to it. You hear this language in the way people talk about how they choose churches. And why they stay. It’s really sort of sad.

  39. I’m just now catching up on this conversation. I find it interesting that Biblical examples of worship involved giving the first fruits of one’s seasonal labor (i.e. from the land, or from the herd). But for us it’s become more of a participatory musical concert. In many cases (and I’m talking about the congregation, not leadership) it’s about what we get out of it, not what we bring to it. You hear this language in the way people talk about how they choose churches. And why they stay. It’s really sort of sad.

  40. I’m just now catching up on this conversation. I find it interesting that Biblical examples of worship involved giving the first fruits of one’s seasonal labor (i.e. from the land, or from the herd). But for us it’s become more of a participatory musical concert. In many cases (and I’m talking about the congregation, not leadership) it’s about what we get out of it, not what we bring to it. You hear this language in the way people talk about how they choose churches. And why they stay. It’s really sort of sad.

  41. Sonja…indeed! The musical part (which is my expertise and life for many years now) has been what we call “worship” when we forget to call the sermon, the offering, the commitments we make about how we live during a service as something else. Really, I am not saying enjoyment should not exist or even be valued to some extent. It is just that the goal is people giving an offering.
    Christy…being broken before God is a beautiful thing and some people do indeed cry in our services.

  42. Sonja…indeed! The musical part (which is my expertise and life for many years now) has been what we call “worship” when we forget to call the sermon, the offering, the commitments we make about how we live during a service as something else. Really, I am not saying enjoyment should not exist or even be valued to some extent. It is just that the goal is people giving an offering.
    Christy…being broken before God is a beautiful thing and some people do indeed cry in our services.

  43. Sonja…indeed! The musical part (which is my expertise and life for many years now) has been what we call “worship” when we forget to call the sermon, the offering, the commitments we make about how we live during a service as something else. Really, I am not saying enjoyment should not exist or even be valued to some extent. It is just that the goal is people giving an offering.
    Christy…being broken before God is a beautiful thing and some people do indeed cry in our services.

  44. Sonja…indeed! The musical part (which is my expertise and life for many years now) has been what we call “worship” when we forget to call the sermon, the offering, the commitments we make about how we live during a service as something else. Really, I am not saying enjoyment should not exist or even be valued to some extent. It is just that the goal is people giving an offering.
    Christy…being broken before God is a beautiful thing and some people do indeed cry in our services.

  45. Yes it should cost us. There will be distractions, technical problems etc. But, if we can minimize distractions / technical foulups, we should. Those may be attacks we can avoid. It seems in leading our worship team, I can rehearse, counsel, pray etc and at least attempt to control the variables and pitfalls. In my case the inconsistency at the sound console seems to be the one variable that trips me up.
    I’ve concluded I’m better off with no sound tech most of the time. Volunteers attempting to “fix” a mix already set at rehearsal cause me more train wrecks and grief than anything lacking in the band.

  46. Yes it should cost us. There will be distractions, technical problems etc. But, if we can minimize distractions / technical foulups, we should. Those may be attacks we can avoid. It seems in leading our worship team, I can rehearse, counsel, pray etc and at least attempt to control the variables and pitfalls. In my case the inconsistency at the sound console seems to be the one variable that trips me up.
    I’ve concluded I’m better off with no sound tech most of the time. Volunteers attempting to “fix” a mix already set at rehearsal cause me more train wrecks and grief than anything lacking in the band.

  47. Yes it should cost us. There will be distractions, technical problems etc. But, if we can minimize distractions / technical foulups, we should. Those may be attacks we can avoid. It seems in leading our worship team, I can rehearse, counsel, pray etc and at least attempt to control the variables and pitfalls. In my case the inconsistency at the sound console seems to be the one variable that trips me up.
    I’ve concluded I’m better off with no sound tech most of the time. Volunteers attempting to “fix” a mix already set at rehearsal cause me more train wrecks and grief than anything lacking in the band.

  48. Yes it should cost us. There will be distractions, technical problems etc. But, if we can minimize distractions / technical foulups, we should. Those may be attacks we can avoid. It seems in leading our worship team, I can rehearse, counsel, pray etc and at least attempt to control the variables and pitfalls. In my case the inconsistency at the sound console seems to be the one variable that trips me up.
    I’ve concluded I’m better off with no sound tech most of the time. Volunteers attempting to “fix” a mix already set at rehearsal cause me more train wrecks and grief than anything lacking in the band.

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