I still remember the first worship service I attended more than 40 years ago. I understood very little of it, as I was not yet a believer. Over the last several decades, though, here are some things I’ve learned about worship.
- It’s not about me. I learned that fact intellectually early in my Christian walk, but it was years later that I learned experientially and spiritually that worship is about God, not me. Most of us have to mature in our faith to understand this truth best.
- Worship style is contextualized. I used to wrestle with the issues of traditional versus contemporary worship. My work around the world, however, has shown me that the worship style might differ in any given setting. As long as we stand on the Word, style can be flexible and still be acceptable.
- Style preferences differ – even change at times. All of us have our preferences. But, even those preferences can change as we change. I grew up on hymns, loved contemporary music when it first came out, now love a balance between hymns and praise choruses, and have always disliked any style done poorly.
- It’s possible for music to overshadow the Bible. It sounds that way when people talk about the false dichotomy of “worship” followed by “preaching.” Good worship keeps the Word central in all aspects of the service.
- Prayer is often perfunctory or lacking. When prayer is routine – always in the same place in the service, and often prayed the same way – I’m not convinced that’s always the worshipful encounter with God that prayer is intended to be.
- Sunday worship that doesn’t change my life on Monday isn’t really worship. None of us should be able to truly encounter God in worship and remain the same. Even the most faithful, long-term believers should be different on Monday after meeting with God and His people.
- Worship must be both individual and corporate. If the only time we worship is on Sunday, we miss the point of taking up our cross daily. The best worshipers on Sunday have been with God the rest of the week.
- Corporate worship is an incredible gift. Just ask the believers around the world who gather together, wondering whether each knock on the door will lead to their arrest.
- We don’t worship enough through the ordinances. At least among many evangelicals, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are more “add-ons” than central components of worship. That’s tragic.
- It’s amazing. Even the word “amazing,” though, can’t capture the miracle and the mystery of God’s allowing us to come into His presence and honor Him. It’s beyond our comprehension.
What have you learned about worship?