Worship Mythbusters: Sermons are not worship? – 5 ways sermons are worship.

This is part of a series of posts designed to debunk damaging thinking about our corporate expressions of worship.

MYTH: Sermons are not worship.

The truth is that I believe sermons are part of every worship service in the evangelical church. They are biblically called for, in fact. Here are 5 things that make a sermon worship as part of Sunday services.

  1. Sermons ask us to respond with an answer to God’s questions.
  2. Sermons help us learn to listening to God’s will for us.
  3. Sermons reveal truth and open our eyes to the reality of God.
  4. Sermons call us to make decisions to follow Jesus.
  5. Sermons put God first.

Do you have any to add?

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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.

36 comments

  1. I agree!
    I have been wrestling with the notion that 52 sermons per year make a better Christian, though. Because honestly alone they don’t. However, sermons that do the 5 things you mentioned combined with a collective and individual approach to living out worship DO create growth and maturity in the Believer!

    1. Just like 52 praise and worship services do not either. Thanks!

  2. I agree!
    I have been wrestling with the notion that 52 sermons per year make a better Christian, though. Because honestly alone they don’t. However, sermons that do the 5 things you mentioned combined with a collective and individual approach to living out worship DO create growth and maturity in the Believer!

    1. Just like 52 praise and worship services do not either. Thanks!

  3. I agree!
    I have been wrestling with the notion that 52 sermons per year make a better Christian, though. Because honestly alone they don’t. However, sermons that do the 5 things you mentioned combined with a collective and individual approach to living out worship DO create growth and maturity in the Believer!

    1. Just like 52 praise and worship services do not either. Thanks!

  4. I agree!
    I have been wrestling with the notion that 52 sermons per year make a better Christian, though. Because honestly alone they don’t. However, sermons that do the 5 things you mentioned combined with a collective and individual approach to living out worship DO create growth and maturity in the Believer!

    1. Just like 52 praise and worship services do not either. Thanks!

  5. SLAM DUNKNESS!
    Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Luke 10:27 (but he also said this in Matthew and Mark).

    Knowing and discussing God’s amazing Word makes us better worshipers – PERIOD. The proclaiming of God’s Word is a primary method for equipping. I feel sermons are key – it’s the gathered worship enabling our scattered worship. Conversations are key, but learned and rational reasoning (as Paul did – Acts 18:4) by those whom God has gifted and equipped is crucial to a Christ Followers worship lifestyle. Otherwise, we are just noisy cymbals & gongs…ok, maybe nice sounding cymbals & gongs, but very shallow in our knowledge of the One we worship!

    Thanks Rich!

  6. SLAM DUNKNESS!
    Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Luke 10:27 (but he also said this in Matthew and Mark).

    Knowing and discussing God’s amazing Word makes us better worshipers – PERIOD. The proclaiming of God’s Word is a primary method for equipping. I feel sermons are key – it’s the gathered worship enabling our scattered worship. Conversations are key, but learned and rational reasoning (as Paul did – Acts 18:4) by those whom God has gifted and equipped is crucial to a Christ Followers worship lifestyle. Otherwise, we are just noisy cymbals & gongs…ok, maybe nice sounding cymbals & gongs, but very shallow in our knowledge of the One we worship!

    Thanks Rich!

  7. SLAM DUNKNESS!
    Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Luke 10:27 (but he also said this in Matthew and Mark).

    Knowing and discussing God’s amazing Word makes us better worshipers – PERIOD. The proclaiming of God’s Word is a primary method for equipping. I feel sermons are key – it’s the gathered worship enabling our scattered worship. Conversations are key, but learned and rational reasoning (as Paul did – Acts 18:4) by those whom God has gifted and equipped is crucial to a Christ Followers worship lifestyle. Otherwise, we are just noisy cymbals & gongs…ok, maybe nice sounding cymbals & gongs, but very shallow in our knowledge of the One we worship!

    Thanks Rich!

  8. SLAM DUNKNESS!
    Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Luke 10:27 (but he also said this in Matthew and Mark).

    Knowing and discussing God’s amazing Word makes us better worshipers – PERIOD. The proclaiming of God’s Word is a primary method for equipping. I feel sermons are key – it’s the gathered worship enabling our scattered worship. Conversations are key, but learned and rational reasoning (as Paul did – Acts 18:4) by those whom God has gifted and equipped is crucial to a Christ Followers worship lifestyle. Otherwise, we are just noisy cymbals & gongs…ok, maybe nice sounding cymbals & gongs, but very shallow in our knowledge of the One we worship!

    Thanks Rich!

  9. I think I have a harder time seeing the sermon as a part of worship. But that is a mind set I am working on getting out of. I have definitely heard sermons that felt worshipful (for lack of a better term), and delivered sermons that felt that way as well. For me it all comes down to heart condition, I believe that a sermon can be an act of worship for the deliverer of the message and not at all for the listeners, and vice versa, based on heart condition.
    I also believe that if a person is just ‘listening’ to the words, but not applying them or acting them out, then the act of worship is not there.

  10. I think I have a harder time seeing the sermon as a part of worship. But that is a mind set I am working on getting out of. I have definitely heard sermons that felt worshipful (for lack of a better term), and delivered sermons that felt that way as well. For me it all comes down to heart condition, I believe that a sermon can be an act of worship for the deliverer of the message and not at all for the listeners, and vice versa, based on heart condition.
    I also believe that if a person is just ‘listening’ to the words, but not applying them or acting them out, then the act of worship is not there.

  11. I think I have a harder time seeing the sermon as a part of worship. But that is a mind set I am working on getting out of. I have definitely heard sermons that felt worshipful (for lack of a better term), and delivered sermons that felt that way as well. For me it all comes down to heart condition, I believe that a sermon can be an act of worship for the deliverer of the message and not at all for the listeners, and vice versa, based on heart condition.
    I also believe that if a person is just ‘listening’ to the words, but not applying them or acting them out, then the act of worship is not there.

  12. I think I have a harder time seeing the sermon as a part of worship. But that is a mind set I am working on getting out of. I have definitely heard sermons that felt worshipful (for lack of a better term), and delivered sermons that felt that way as well. For me it all comes down to heart condition, I believe that a sermon can be an act of worship for the deliverer of the message and not at all for the listeners, and vice versa, based on heart condition.
    I also believe that if a person is just ‘listening’ to the words, but not applying them or acting them out, then the act of worship is not there.

  13. Always enjoy hearing from you, friend.
    Good stuff to think through, man. I think we could have a few different answers–all valid–depending on how we are defining worship in this context. Bottom line, the sermon (preaching/proclaiming of God’s word in a corporate context) is biblical and appropriate for the weekend gathering.

    But, it is a little weird to me to ask if it is “worship” for the same reason I would think it odd to ask if music is worship. Both “can” be worshipful, but neither is explicitly. I think it may be the wrong question.

    For example, you and I would both agree music is not worship. But, we certainly worship God at times by singing songs to him and about him. And, it is appropriate and modeled throughout scripture for us in the assembly of believers and in other places in response to God. One of my best times of worship through music last year was at a Lenny Kravitz show. I don’t know that my neighbor was worshiping. I was. So the question is not, “is Lenny Kravitz a worship leader?” That question is irrelevant. The question is not, “is the song ‘Stillness of Heart’ a worship song?” Wrong question. He played. I worshiped.

    Are we worshipers? In every way? In every situation? At all times? Probably not. But, every event, situation, mindset, activity, etc. can be God honoring or not. It’s a heart issue.

    I don’t think God ever intended for us to define what is worship and what is not. I think he is concerned with “who is a worshiper?”

    Remember John 4? The woman asked about “where” the appropriate place for worship was. Jesus said it wasn’t important. He is looking for hearts. Hearts that are his.

    Here are some random thoughts to muddy it up for us:

    1. Preparing a message can be an act of worship for the speaker. It can also become a rote act without much thought, intention, or prayer.
    2. Hearing a message can be a wonderful act of obedience and response depending on how we engage God’s word and if we are moved to actuation/change/obedience/contemplation/etc. It can also be passive and unproductive. Then again, I don’t know that the end result always has to be action or change.
    3. Proclaiming God’s word (kerygma) can be a wonderful act of worship. It can also be full of self, off track, void of meaning, etc.
    4. A speaker can be self serving, have more sizzle than steak and love the sound of his own voice, on the other hand I think it’s a sin to bore people with the word of God.

    I doesn’t matter if we label it worship or not, God tells us to be hearers and doers of the word and we have countless examples of how and why it is important.

    1. We can choose to hear from God or have faith that there is mystery in the preaching and teaching of his word. You choose to listen to Kravitz with a lens that God is mysteriously there. We are losing the mystery of our corporate worship experiences because we do not teach that is the norm. God speaks!
      I just believe that corporate worship is important since its biblical and that we forget that mystery and wonder are part of it as much as exegesis and parsing Greek. On Sundays its really more about “us” than me. So, unlike your concert the should the experience be even greater in expressing something as a family rather than an individual? If its about “us” more than “me” how do we get there? Just some questions.

  14. Always enjoy hearing from you, friend.
    Good stuff to think through, man. I think we could have a few different answers–all valid–depending on how we are defining worship in this context. Bottom line, the sermon (preaching/proclaiming of God’s word in a corporate context) is biblical and appropriate for the weekend gathering.

    But, it is a little weird to me to ask if it is “worship” for the same reason I would think it odd to ask if music is worship. Both “can” be worshipful, but neither is explicitly. I think it may be the wrong question.

    For example, you and I would both agree music is not worship. But, we certainly worship God at times by singing songs to him and about him. And, it is appropriate and modeled throughout scripture for us in the assembly of believers and in other places in response to God. One of my best times of worship through music last year was at a Lenny Kravitz show. I don’t know that my neighbor was worshiping. I was. So the question is not, “is Lenny Kravitz a worship leader?” That question is irrelevant. The question is not, “is the song ‘Stillness of Heart’ a worship song?” Wrong question. He played. I worshiped.

    Are we worshipers? In every way? In every situation? At all times? Probably not. But, every event, situation, mindset, activity, etc. can be God honoring or not. It’s a heart issue.

    I don’t think God ever intended for us to define what is worship and what is not. I think he is concerned with “who is a worshiper?”

    Remember John 4? The woman asked about “where” the appropriate place for worship was. Jesus said it wasn’t important. He is looking for hearts. Hearts that are his.

    Here are some random thoughts to muddy it up for us:

    1. Preparing a message can be an act of worship for the speaker. It can also become a rote act without much thought, intention, or prayer.
    2. Hearing a message can be a wonderful act of obedience and response depending on how we engage God’s word and if we are moved to actuation/change/obedience/contemplation/etc. It can also be passive and unproductive. Then again, I don’t know that the end result always has to be action or change.
    3. Proclaiming God’s word (kerygma) can be a wonderful act of worship. It can also be full of self, off track, void of meaning, etc.
    4. A speaker can be self serving, have more sizzle than steak and love the sound of his own voice, on the other hand I think it’s a sin to bore people with the word of God.

    I doesn’t matter if we label it worship or not, God tells us to be hearers and doers of the word and we have countless examples of how and why it is important.

    1. We can choose to hear from God or have faith that there is mystery in the preaching and teaching of his word. You choose to listen to Kravitz with a lens that God is mysteriously there. We are losing the mystery of our corporate worship experiences because we do not teach that is the norm. God speaks!
      I just believe that corporate worship is important since its biblical and that we forget that mystery and wonder are part of it as much as exegesis and parsing Greek. On Sundays its really more about “us” than me. So, unlike your concert the should the experience be even greater in expressing something as a family rather than an individual? If its about “us” more than “me” how do we get there? Just some questions.

  15. Always enjoy hearing from you, friend.
    Good stuff to think through, man. I think we could have a few different answers–all valid–depending on how we are defining worship in this context. Bottom line, the sermon (preaching/proclaiming of God’s word in a corporate context) is biblical and appropriate for the weekend gathering.

    But, it is a little weird to me to ask if it is “worship” for the same reason I would think it odd to ask if music is worship. Both “can” be worshipful, but neither is explicitly. I think it may be the wrong question.

    For example, you and I would both agree music is not worship. But, we certainly worship God at times by singing songs to him and about him. And, it is appropriate and modeled throughout scripture for us in the assembly of believers and in other places in response to God. One of my best times of worship through music last year was at a Lenny Kravitz show. I don’t know that my neighbor was worshiping. I was. So the question is not, “is Lenny Kravitz a worship leader?” That question is irrelevant. The question is not, “is the song ‘Stillness of Heart’ a worship song?” Wrong question. He played. I worshiped.

    Are we worshipers? In every way? In every situation? At all times? Probably not. But, every event, situation, mindset, activity, etc. can be God honoring or not. It’s a heart issue.

    I don’t think God ever intended for us to define what is worship and what is not. I think he is concerned with “who is a worshiper?”

    Remember John 4? The woman asked about “where” the appropriate place for worship was. Jesus said it wasn’t important. He is looking for hearts. Hearts that are his.

    Here are some random thoughts to muddy it up for us:

    1. Preparing a message can be an act of worship for the speaker. It can also become a rote act without much thought, intention, or prayer.
    2. Hearing a message can be a wonderful act of obedience and response depending on how we engage God’s word and if we are moved to actuation/change/obedience/contemplation/etc. It can also be passive and unproductive. Then again, I don’t know that the end result always has to be action or change.
    3. Proclaiming God’s word (kerygma) can be a wonderful act of worship. It can also be full of self, off track, void of meaning, etc.
    4. A speaker can be self serving, have more sizzle than steak and love the sound of his own voice, on the other hand I think it’s a sin to bore people with the word of God.

    I doesn’t matter if we label it worship or not, God tells us to be hearers and doers of the word and we have countless examples of how and why it is important.

    1. We can choose to hear from God or have faith that there is mystery in the preaching and teaching of his word. You choose to listen to Kravitz with a lens that God is mysteriously there. We are losing the mystery of our corporate worship experiences because we do not teach that is the norm. God speaks!
      I just believe that corporate worship is important since its biblical and that we forget that mystery and wonder are part of it as much as exegesis and parsing Greek. On Sundays its really more about “us” than me. So, unlike your concert the should the experience be even greater in expressing something as a family rather than an individual? If its about “us” more than “me” how do we get there? Just some questions.

  16. Always enjoy hearing from you, friend.
    Good stuff to think through, man. I think we could have a few different answers–all valid–depending on how we are defining worship in this context. Bottom line, the sermon (preaching/proclaiming of God’s word in a corporate context) is biblical and appropriate for the weekend gathering.

    But, it is a little weird to me to ask if it is “worship” for the same reason I would think it odd to ask if music is worship. Both “can” be worshipful, but neither is explicitly. I think it may be the wrong question.

    For example, you and I would both agree music is not worship. But, we certainly worship God at times by singing songs to him and about him. And, it is appropriate and modeled throughout scripture for us in the assembly of believers and in other places in response to God. One of my best times of worship through music last year was at a Lenny Kravitz show. I don’t know that my neighbor was worshiping. I was. So the question is not, “is Lenny Kravitz a worship leader?” That question is irrelevant. The question is not, “is the song ‘Stillness of Heart’ a worship song?” Wrong question. He played. I worshiped.

    Are we worshipers? In every way? In every situation? At all times? Probably not. But, every event, situation, mindset, activity, etc. can be God honoring or not. It’s a heart issue.

    I don’t think God ever intended for us to define what is worship and what is not. I think he is concerned with “who is a worshiper?”

    Remember John 4? The woman asked about “where” the appropriate place for worship was. Jesus said it wasn’t important. He is looking for hearts. Hearts that are his.

    Here are some random thoughts to muddy it up for us:

    1. Preparing a message can be an act of worship for the speaker. It can also become a rote act without much thought, intention, or prayer.
    2. Hearing a message can be a wonderful act of obedience and response depending on how we engage God’s word and if we are moved to actuation/change/obedience/contemplation/etc. It can also be passive and unproductive. Then again, I don’t know that the end result always has to be action or change.
    3. Proclaiming God’s word (kerygma) can be a wonderful act of worship. It can also be full of self, off track, void of meaning, etc.
    4. A speaker can be self serving, have more sizzle than steak and love the sound of his own voice, on the other hand I think it’s a sin to bore people with the word of God.

    I doesn’t matter if we label it worship or not, God tells us to be hearers and doers of the word and we have countless examples of how and why it is important.

    1. We can choose to hear from God or have faith that there is mystery in the preaching and teaching of his word. You choose to listen to Kravitz with a lens that God is mysteriously there. We are losing the mystery of our corporate worship experiences because we do not teach that is the norm. God speaks!
      I just believe that corporate worship is important since its biblical and that we forget that mystery and wonder are part of it as much as exegesis and parsing Greek. On Sundays its really more about “us” than me. So, unlike your concert the should the experience be even greater in expressing something as a family rather than an individual? If its about “us” more than “me” how do we get there? Just some questions.

  17. So you know I’m a lurker here from my Google Reader but it’s great insight like this that pulls me out of my corner of the Interweb :)I love it man. Especially #5 for some reason that jumped out at me! But even as a Youth Guy talking to students each week I think this be my new “think about print out” I post above my desk at church!
    Thanks man.

  18. So you know I’m a lurker here from my Google Reader but it’s great insight like this that pulls me out of my corner of the Interweb :)I love it man. Especially #5 for some reason that jumped out at me! But even as a Youth Guy talking to students each week I think this be my new “think about print out” I post above my desk at church!
    Thanks man.

  19. So you know I’m a lurker here from my Google Reader but it’s great insight like this that pulls me out of my corner of the Interweb :)I love it man. Especially #5 for some reason that jumped out at me! But even as a Youth Guy talking to students each week I think this be my new “think about print out” I post above my desk at church!
    Thanks man.

  20. So you know I’m a lurker here from my Google Reader but it’s great insight like this that pulls me out of my corner of the Interweb :)I love it man. Especially #5 for some reason that jumped out at me! But even as a Youth Guy talking to students each week I think this be my new “think about print out” I post above my desk at church!
    Thanks man.

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