The Heart of Worship #2

The Heart of Worship

Check out Part 1 HERE

You’ve probably sung this classic worship song before but have you ever heard the story behind it?

It’s a really powerful message that I think I will always try to revisit and it’s part of what’s on my mind in writing this piece.

The times we spend pouring out praise to God together with music and songs of adoration are so crucial to our lives as the Church.

More than that, it’s part of why we’re alive! But I have a growing conviction that we have drifted far, far away from the heart of worship and the scary part is, we haven’t really realised.

I want to spend most of my time talking about our gathered corporate times of worship but to do that I have to clarify that worship is more than a song.

I don’t know about you but I’ve sometimes found myself unable to sing certain songs in church because when I really think about the words and look at my own heart, I find that I don’t really mean them.

It’s nothing to do with the quality of the lyrics, it’s to do with the state of my heart and my own relationship with God.

But sometimes I just sing them anyway. And boy can I sing ’em! Loud and proud!

I can leave a gathering feeling like I could jump through a brick wall but then quickly find myself back in a routine that doesn’t reflect the conviction I sang with during the drum solo or when the keyboard pad seemed to be opening a portal into heaven!

I grew up hearing the phrase “worship isn’t music, worship is a lifestyle”. I thought it was pretty profound. The idea that everything we do in our lives with an attitude of thanksgiving to God and with a desire to glorify Him can be worship sort of blew me away!

But is worship still a lifestyle? It’s a pretty commonly used word now. I mean we talk about worship movements, worship conferences, worship albums, worship sets, worship nights, worship artists and worship schools.

But what do they all have in common? Music.

We have to admit that in our language and therefore to a large extent in our thinking, worship and music have become the same thing.

Someone says worship, we think music.

Worship Conferences aren’t really lifestyle conferences on how to honour and glorify God everyday and live lives full of the love of Christ in joyful obedience to the Holy Spirit, focused on making disciples…

Worship Sets are set times that we sing songs and play instruments.

Worship Artists are Christian musicians who write songs that are sung by congregations in Worship Services or worship experiences*.

Worship Albums are, well, they’re albums. Not photo albums though…like, musical ones!

Worship Schools…actually they vary greatly but you get my point.

We have to admit that in our language and therefore to a large extent in our thinking, worship and music have become the same thing.

I think worship is often closely associated with music in the Bible. A quick glimpse into David’s tabernacle or the Psalms shows us that. I often lead people in times of singing to God with a guitar in my hands and a smile on my face.

I’m not just some hater, I’m actually a “worship leader” myself. I’m just still figuring out what that even means!

I’m not a hater but I am part of the problem. I’ve been getting annoyed recently that if I close my eyes and someone says the word worship to me, I see something.

It’s the same thing I see when I scroll through my Instagram feed and see the posts about the latest conference or tour or upcoming album.

It’s a darkened room lit by streams of coloured light caught in an ethereal haze. The sea of hands below sway as the current of music carries the corporate sound and washes countless cries into one beautiful voice that is offered up to Him who is invisible.

Whatever you think of these times, I personally love them! I have genuinely met with God and been changed by His glory many times in these settings. But I think that something about the way we see them is changing and it’s making me sad. 

And a little bit angry. And I don’t think I’m the only one…

Part 3 is HERE

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