This is part of a series. Here are the other posts so you can catch up and join the conversation:
Post 1.0 Myth: Worship is a lifestyle Myth: Worship is not music Myth: Worship is not about me Myth: Worship is better with a certain style or structure Myth: Worship with hymns is deeper theologically than with modern music. Myth: Worship should make me feel good (or bad) Post 1.1 Revision of 1.0, and addendums… Post 2.0 Myth: Worship is NOT entertainment
Remember, we are talking NOT about the theological term for worship, but how we live that out “worship” in our liturgy. And, the goal is to get you and I to think! What things are holding us back? What ideas do we hold on to that we have not thought through with vigor? This brings us to 3.0.
MYTH: Worship is NOT horizontal, its ONLY vertical
While it is true that worship, in the literal sense, is vertically focused, it is not true that the horizontal aspect of our our lives are not a major factor in our public worship. In fact, some of the very practices in our liturgy, while God-focused, are actually things we horizontally apply to each other.
Many will say the goal is to sing songs to God, for instance, while in the scripture we are literally called on to sing to each other. That’s right. While I know many will claim “true worship” is the songs that vertically sing to God, I think it is clear that to sing to each other about God is just as valid. In fact, we might even sing about how we are to live in community as part of our worship. We might say prayers about how we are to love each other or the world.
Not all we do in our public worship services are vertical. It is once again, a “both and” rather than narrowly creating a dividing line simply based on the type of language used. I can worship God, by singing about Him as much as singing to Him. And, I can worship God by singing to my fellow believers about how we are to live, exhorting each other.
What I am concerned with in the usage of “vertical” is that being vertical never makes sense without the horizontal.
We are instructed to settle unresolved conflict before coming to worship (Matthew 5:23-24).
This is clear. I would say, that time and place might make it that we are in the very church building when this can occur. Why not?
We are instructed to actually sing not only to God, but to each other. (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16) “sing to one another…”
Obviously, the legalism that “worship” songs are all sung “to” God does not fit this grid here in these two passages. Community is very important and our role in worship gatherings should reflect a sense of community.
We are instructed to spur each other to good deeds in worship gatherings (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Again, it is clear that relationships and community intensely matter in our expression of public worship. The idea is that we are “spurred” to action, not just moved in some way or that we have a personal, individualistic experience. The “win” of a worship service should be that the people live better the following week–more poor are fed, more people cared for and more people reached with the good news of Jesus.