Although your church may have great music on a Sunday morning and the band knows their parts and the transitions, worship is so much more than music. Although these upcoming categories apply to life in general, they are also categories we can also follow in musical worship particularly so that our focus remains true to the heart of worship.
Worship is for God
Even if we did not sing out and praise God, the Bible says the rocks would cry out in praise. All creation praises God. It is our privilege and great honor to praise him ourselves. Furthermore, what an additional honor to lead his people in his praise! God is worthy of our worship and praise simply because of who he is.
Colossian 1:16 Everything was created through him and for him.
In heaven, the angels worship God continually and for all eternity. So will we! This is really why we were created: to worship.
Worship is about God
Not only is worship for God but it is about him. The psalms repeatedly declare the works of God and talk about his character and his mighty deeds. The more we sing the truth about who God is, not only do we come into a greater understanding of who he is through both revelation and reminder, but we also provide a ministry of witness for those who do not yet know him. In this way, we come to know God even more through worshipping him.
Worship is to God
Although it is excellent to sing about God, singing to God is a form of intimacy in worship. In other words, the worship in that moment is a gift to him. Just as the woman poured out her expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet in adoration, so we have the opportunity to express our hearts to God, thanking him for who he is and what he has done and for choosing to have a relationship with us.
Psalm 30:4 Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name.
Worship recognizes need
Jesus says that he desires worshippers to worship in spirit and truth. Perhaps the greatest truth is to recognize that we are nothing apart from the finished work of Christ on the cross and are totally lost without him. When we embrace this reality and come into worship with an attitude of surrender and humility, we are in the best place to worship. When our plans fail as musicians for a perfect execution of a set or song, it often serves as an excellent reminder of why we are really there: to thank God that we can fully rely on him and not on ourselves. As someone once said, the greatest need you have is to admit you have need, and the greatest need of all was met by Christ at the cross.
2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Worship engages our heart
When we come face to face with our own brokenness apart from God, we are reminded of just how much Christ has done for us at the cross. This realization produces thankfulness which engages our hearts in worship. The saying, “it comes from the heart,” is a reminder that when we are pouring out our worship from the heart it is as authentic as it gets. The Bible also says that from the heart, the mouth speaks.
Matt. 12:34 For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.
If we have gratitude in our heart, it will come forth in worship. When this happens, we see the spirit behind the worship as the most important part of our worship. Of course, excellence in music is important and we also want to make our corporate worship orderly and intelligible, but as 1 Samuel 16:7 says, God looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
If we get the order right — worship God first from the heart and then make it understandable to others — this will be the best way we can honor God in our worship and also the most attractive thing to someone who does not yet know him.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Read Colossians 1:16. How does worship relate to the idea of everything being for Christ?
- If you had to summarize worship in a sentence, what would it be? Is it different now than before this conversation?
- Think back to the best times of musical worship you have been a part of. What made it so meaningful to you?
- Which of the above categories of worship come naturally to you? Which can you grow in understanding and applying?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.