I heard a lot of pastors telling people in church that we are created to worship God which means to sing Christian songs. That we can invite the presence of God while singing praise and worship songs. That we are at the foot of Jesus when congregation are doing the worship. That worship is good it gives a sense of release, surrender, especially when a person is emotionally stir… I have nothing against worship but when a church gives so much importance to it over other things like studying the Word of God and preaching it, it concerns me. There were few occasions a service was replaced to do worship night where it becomes like of a concert style approach especially when playing songs of Bethel, Hillsong and Jesus Culture which are loud and repetitive and more of “me” kinda lyrics. Believed there should be a norm and a balance somewhere… would be happy to hear Biblical perspective on this. Thank you!
This unfortunately may be a symptom of a larger problem. That parts of the modern Church are no longer making disciples (Matthew 28:19), but rather “feel good” believers. And that’s not good! Both for the believer and the Church. (You are right to be concerned about a growing “me” culture)
While I don’t know your situation specifically (so I won’t comment directly), but I have heard there is a growing problem of Biblical illiteracy. Singing songs is worship, but we must remember that true worship is doing what God has asked of us. Are we following, for example, 2 Peter 1:5-11 or Ephesians 6:10-18 by simply singing ‘concerts’ and replacing services with worship nights? I don’t think we are; at least I’m skeptical that we are in most cases of such ‘concerts’. Worship is not limited to singing, at least that is how Scripture defines worship. There should be a balance.
That’s my short answer. The longer answer (especially for a complete Biblical perspective) is to read the letters/epistles in the New Testament. You’ll find that singing, while it is a form of a worship, is actually not emphasized that much (at least not to the extent the church you describe is giving to songs) and there are many other important things in additional to singing that we should be doing. (It would be fine if this i.e. things other thn singing is still emphasized outside of church service, but I’m skeptical that is the case).
I’m quite concerned about the apparent, growing neglect of the Word of God. I think it is necessary that one studies the Scriptures thoroughly on their own, regardless of what your local church community is doing. By “thoroughly”, I prefer reading sections at a time (at least one ‘chapter’ or several ‘chapters’ at a time), and with a good commentary in hand. Dr. Thomas Constable’s (now-retired professor at Dallas Theological Seminary) commentary is a great resource to start with. He has extensive footnotes, and summarizes many works into his notes.
Finally, I’ll share this related piece (The Church Does Not Exist For You) that addresses this from a very good Christian apologist. (He does a better job at emphasizing certain issues than I do as well. Actually, I would recommend you read this first before mine.)
It is true that we were created for the purpose of worship, and mankind will always compulsively worship something. But the only adequate object of our infinite capacity to worship is the infinite Creator Who placed eternity in our hearts - Ecclesiates 3:11.
Before coming to Christ, we worshipped all the gods of this world. But the moment we turned to Christ for salvation, we took our first step on a journey of eternal worship in truth and in Spirit. The whole of the Christian life is simply a lifestyle of perpetual, unbroken worship.
But this doesn’t mean that we begin praying and witnessing and reading our Bibles 168 hours a week.
Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice which is our reasonable service. The idea of a living sacrifice points to the temple worshippers bringing their offerings to the priests who would burn them on the altar. In the same way, we are to dedicate our lives as living sacrifices – a lifelong act of continuous worship.
Just as Jesus acted as both priest and sacrifice when He offered Himself for our sins, so we are New Testament priests offering our own spiritual sacrifices to God.
These would include such things as our praise and thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15), our good works (Hebrews 13:16), the souls we win to Christ (Romans 15:16), the offerings we give to Him (Philippians 4:18) and even our death for Christ’s sake (II Timothy 4:6).
But it goes beyond what we typically think of as “holy” activities. Everything the Christian does, thinks, says or feels should be done, thought, said or felt for the glory of God – making the Christian’s entire life one unbroken act of worship.
Colossians 3:17 says, whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
We eat for the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31, Whether therefore ye eat or drink (about the most mundane activities imaginable), or whatsoever ye do (just in case anything has been overlooked), do all to the glory of God.
We sleep for the glory of God – rest enables us to serve Him more effectively, so Psalm 127:2 says, he giveth his beloved sleep. But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest – Isaiah 57:20.
We work a job for the glory of God – with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men (Ephesians 6:7).
“The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the [preacher] who prays – not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps, but because God loves clean floors.
“The Christian shoemaker does his sacred duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, for God is interested in good craftsmanship” - attributed to Martin Luther.
The wife submits to her husband as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). And by so doing she glorifies God so that, if she has an unbelieving husband, he also may, without the word, be won by the conduct of the wife.
The husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). “The Christian husband displays what he thinks of Christ by the way he treats his wife” – John MacArthur.
Children are to obey their parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord – Colossians 3:20. They honor the Lord by honoring their parents.
We honor God by how we conduct our finances - remember Jesus’ parable of the talents - Matthew 25.
For the Christian, all of life is holy, it’s all worship. There is no distinction between the secular and the sacred. The presence of Christ in any life transforms that life into an unbroken act of worship – as holy as the life of Christ Himself from conception to ascension!
Thank you Daniel for sharing your thoughts! Appreciate your reply for such a time like this whereby searching for Biblical truth is my outmost priority. God bless!
Thank you James for sharing your thoughts. Appreciate it. I know that as Christians we should live our lives that is pleasing to the Lord our God in and outside of church service. Noting that Bible says other many forms and ways to express worship. My heart breaks on secular sounding worship songs, the worship band, and the importance some pastors put into it over other things. I recently watched videos from YouTube, a panel interview from Grace to You channel called Strange Fire conference in 2013. You may like to search and watch it to set the background.
Ah, yes - I am familiar with John MacArthur’s warnings about Strange Fire, and I agree with him on it - I am glad that you found that - thank you!
Good day Sherilyn.
Here’s my personal take on it. First of all, I believe we were created to please God just like everything we humans create is for our pleasure.
Now how are we supposed to please God?
Going back to Genesis when Adam and Eve where created, I believe that every time God came to the garden to followship with Adam and Eve he was pleased and in my understanding that can be referred to as worship from their side. In other words, pleasing God is worshipping God. With that in mind there are other means of worship. I don’t think there’s anywhere in the Bible and dictionary where worship was mainly defined as singing unto God. Your acts can be a worship to God, because you are doing it not to your glory but to the Glory of God.
Now if your child was to do something to please you and for people to see who you are, you will have a sense of pride and joy, which I believe is what worship is meant to do. In that same way, our acts of righteousness are pleasing and glorifies God.
Singing songs (songs of worship and praise) is just another aspect of worship to God. But the word “worship” is much more bigger than that. I feel why people get attached to songs are because if we read through the Bible, we can notice that songs tend to stir up the spirit of God more and it puts our spirit in sync with the spirit of God.
So in conclusion I think we as Christians should tend to look at worship in the larger picture and not confine it to the walls of just signing. Think of times you did something other than singing that made you feel good spiritually. That is an act of worship to God.
I hope this helps. Sorry am still not yet at that point of quoting verses, trying not to make any mistakes while quoting. May God bless you and open the eyes of your heart to see beyond the physical.
I think a lot of Christians have a superficial understanding of “worship God” and automatically assume 1hr of singing church or “christian” songs. A basic check on what “worship” means “reverence(deep respect for someone or something) and adoration”, in this context for God, you will understand that is beyond singing praises during church time. A true “worship God” meaning, is how we pray, behave, talk and see even the most mondane things, during our regular lives. If in all of that we do “worship God” than “we were created to worship God” make complete sense.
Hello Sherilyn and I appreciate your question and the importance of the points that you raised. I think that the question on worship is a foundational one on what it means to be human.
The question I would ask to try and understand what worship is ,is, what are we designed for or what is our purpose? If you saw a lion in the wild acting like a zebra and running with the herd, you would rightly say that the lion is not functioning according to its design. The lion is built to pull down prey and to eat meat. Even for man made objects, if I built a clock, its primary function is to tell the time, though it may have other attributes like looking nice and being built well, its fundamental purpose is to always tell the time accurately. I believe Jesus tells us what our purpose is and therefore what it means to worship:
Matthew 22: 36-40: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
John 15: 12-14: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you."
Even Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:5 when he says “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” We are created to love God and to love people with all of our being. Jesus even says in Matthew 25 in the passage about the final judgement, that when we love others we are actually loving Him in that act.
In life, saying we love people is easier than actually loving them. In Christianity we often say that we will pray for people, and think that it is spiritual, but actually never have the desire in ourselves to do any more to help people and love them in our action. We can go to church and sing songs, and feel good about it, but when a brother or sister is in need, we are often not willing to actually lay down our lives for them to meet their needs in sacrificial love. We can have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5).
1 Corinthians 13: 1-3: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
The apostle Paul really hits home with the above passage when he says that if you don’t have love- you are nothing! You actually make yourself nothing. So it doesn’t matter then if we praise God in our singing, or have good Bible study, excellent preaching, or even work for charitable organizations which involve us giving, if it isn’t done from God’s love (for apart from Christ we can do nothing- John 15:5) in order to love God, then we gain nothing and are nothing, and our worship is meaningless.
So I think if our praising God in song, or listening to sermons, or spending our quiet time with the Lord, or doing our normal day job, or whatever, if whatever we do is leading us to grow in Christ and love more, then that grows our capacity for true worship and fulfilling our designed purpose.
Sherilyn, you have asked a question that is on many hearts. The previous replies to your question make some great points! I have thought of this subject of worship quite a bit, especially in the matter of worshiping through song.
Here is a short article that gives a nice glimpse into the aspect of prayer worship.
Worship comes in many forms, and the tendency in many churches in America today to refer only to singing as worship really puzzles me. I still often misunderstand it when someone says worship to mean the singing portion of our Sunday services because I assume they mean worship in general. I grew up in a very conservative denomination that believed it is a sin to use instruments, to clap, and to dance while singing in worship assemblies. We sang traditional hymns and were big on using four part harmony, so that was what I was used to hearing and the more modern loud concert style was so foreign. Most in our church went so far as to call the concert style sinful because people are merely being entertained by that it. But I have since learned that that is simply not true and that we should not judge a person’s heart in their chosen singing style. I have come all the way to believing that the form, as long as it is done in the Spirit, doesn’t matter. It would be of interest to me to hear the various forms of musical worship practiced around the world. Some may be fairly shocking to our traditional American sensibilities. But I think it is not a good idea to be too particular as to the forms of music worship others use when they are done in spirit and used for edification. Cultures change and with them so does their art and music. Some music styles are preferred by different people. I was once surprised when a woman I know as a very dedicated Christian told me that she does not like singing traditional hymns. I don’t know her reason but I had the idea that she has negative associations with that style from her childhood.
We have for the last two and a half years been members for the first time of a church that uses concert style music and a lot of Hillsong, and it all seems to be focused on praying our God for His glory. It took me a long time to get used to, and while I am still not a fan of the volume, I have since learned that there are those who prefer that worship style because it really speaks to them. My husband is one of those people. He is so different from me in that sounds move him to emotion much more than they do me. He can be made so irritable and angry and some sounds and even refuse to listen to some very good Christian speakers because of the sound of their voice or the recording, and some sounds just lift him up more than they do me. I don’t understand this but it is the ways he is. The loud concert style moves him more than any music we have experienced at other churches, and in this time in his life he really needs that edification. I also observe that many in the church are very moved and are worshipping in spirit as well. When I finally decided to let my critical guard down, which I was allowing to be up in that new environment, and just allow myself to sing praises with everyone else, I too was moved and edified. Sometimes, when I really need to be lifted in spirit, I just watch the people on the stage raising their hands and singing with all their heart and am gladdened and my heart is lifted to see someone so filled with joy. I believe that whatever the style, when done in the spirit, we are truly worshipping which is all that matters. And it is true, there is not a lot spoken of about worshipping with song, which tells me that the Spirit is what really matters, as with all worship. Here are some good passages that mention worshipping with music:
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Collossions 3:16
“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered.” Psalm 71:23
“speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,” Ephesians 5:19
As with any form of worship, whether it be singing, playing an instrument, painting beautiful things, praying, meditating, reading, it should all be done in the Spirit that is in us, and whatever the style according to a person’s culture, it doesn’t matter as long as our spirit is communing with His and we are lifting others’ spirits up when we get the chance, and lifting Christ up for all to see.
Hi Carrie, thanks for your honest reply. We may live in different cultural background, experience, generation, or upbringing, etc. which shapes our concept and reason why we do things in a certain manner. I respect that. At the end of the day and at the end of our lives what really matter to God I believe is the motive of the heart. For instance, a worship leader led his congregation to worship or praise songs this way or that way, he is accountable to God. Worship and praise are for God. Exalting His sovereignty. It’s being less of me and more of Him. Last thing that will come to my mind whether it benefits me or not. God knows our hearts. I, as an individual, I will be intentionally careful and mindful of my choices, particularly of my choice in participating in congregational singing of worship and praise, whether I will follow the ways of the church or specific band or not. The believers will be separated eventually, from the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46), from the righteous and the wicked (Malachi 3:16-18), from the wise and the foolish (Matthew 7:24-27; 25:1-13). Thanks for reading!
Thanks Brian for your kind reply. Agree with you, love shown by faith and action.