I posted this as a comment on travisstanley.net and thought if I posted it on my site a few more might become engaged in the discussion. Please comment.

A realization I made a few years back is that we might be too concerned with what we are getting out of worship. I’ve often longed for the mystery of the Catholic Church to leak its way into our liturgy. Transubstantiation is something that has always sparked my interest but is it really the answer to our feelings that worship isn’t what it is supposed to be?

We can follow any worship trend, or any ancient liturgy and end up in the same hollow place. What we need is God. I think that’s really what we’re missing. Once we focus on really trying to show Him that he is worthy then we will truly be worshiping.

Paul tells us that we are to offer our bodies as spiritual acts of worship. Based on that ideology I don’t know that true worship is something that can even be accomplished in a corporate setting.

I’m not advocating that we abandon our “worship” service and all go serve at a soup kitchen instead of attending church sunday morning but there’s something about sitting in a pew and singing that doesn’t really address that idea of offering yourself as a living sacrifice. Maybe I’ve vered off topic here but I think that if we were truly concerned with offering ourselves to God in our services we would be less concerned with what we were getting out of it.

Published by Brian

Christian, husband, father, Pepperdine alum, marketing account manager and more. Passionate about music, movies, religion, communication, nonprofits and the Lakers.

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  1. This is a “yes, and…” kind of post – meaning I agree with what you had to say, and I want to add something to it. I think that the complaint people have about not getting anything out of worship is misdirected. I don’t believe you attend church to “get fed,” as people like to say. I think we should go for true Christian fellowship that will encourage you to grow in your personal relationship with God, and also to serve. We ought to be teaching people how to “feed themselves” during the week, meaning get in their OWN Bibles, talk to God THEMSELVES, and just generally seek God on their own. I think far too much time is spent in worship services doing other stuff. Because of that, we have those who church hop, looking for a place where they are fed.Done with my soapbox. Would someone else like it?


  2. I agree that it’s not about what we get out of it. But in times when I am worshiping, really adoring God, the stark reality of who I am and who He is crystallizes, and that’s a “feeding” experience for me. I do long for that, and maybe that’s the selfish part… that I long for it rather than understanding that God longs for it. Or does He? He doesn’t need our worship. Can’t one make a case that largely worship is desired by God to be for us? I think there’s a big difference between building a service to “lift up” our spirits/adrenaline/endorphine levels and one that is planned to be conducive for people to really worship, in turn “feeding” our human need to worship. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with acknowledging that need and its payoffs. I think it’s important.We just have to call ’em like we see ’em when a “worship” service is designed more to showcase, attract and entertain people than to praise God.Am I totally off-base?


  3. Hi, Brice, I’m Brian’s cousin Sara!I don’t think you’re off base at all, although I think if some people came to the church we go to, they might think there was more entertainment going on than there needed to be. We attend a huge church – over 10,000 people, and they use fancy lights, fog, the whole nine yards. It looks a little like a rock concert during the singing part of the service. However, the pastor, the worship leader, and anyone else you talk to are the most down to earth people you’ll ever meet. The pastor actually says the reason they do all the lights, etc, is because HE has ADD and needs the entertainment. I guess what I’m saying is that I think we can appeal to our culture so that we attract teenagers and young adults without sacrificing solid truth and worship.Another thing: I totally agree that we as Christians have a need to worship. I believe that people in general, worship. It’s pretty much a question of What we worship. I think we as Christians have another responsibility though, and that is to minister to God with our worship. He doesn’t need it, but He does deserve it, and that is the purpose He created us for. If He wants to create a whole species whose entire purpose is to freely choose to worship Him, He can do that. I think He did.


  4. And the debate begins… The problem I see is that one mans “conducive to worship” is anothers “adrenaline pumping, up-lifing.” So how do we enter into that state that is conducive to worhsip if it’s different for everyone? Is there some magic formula we’re missing if we aren’t drawing people to that place?


  5. Right, Brian. And thanks for the response, Sara.I almost put up another post right after my first admitting that deciding what is worship and what is entertainment for different people is not a decision I want to have to make.And I have another question. I’ve heard and even made the argument you make, Sara, all my life. That God created us to worship him.But the closest I get to a reason for creation in Genesis is to rule over creation and increase in number (ch. 1) and tend the garden (ch.2). And those don’t answer the why created question, but outline God’s to-do list for humans. That’s got to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest question. Why did God create us (and everything else)? This is likely ignorance on my part, but where do we get the idea that we’re created for the purpose of worship? But that’s a tangent, and this is Brian’s blog.There are a couple comments on Travis’s blog about offering variety so that everyone has an opportunity to worship in their own preferred way. Is that the answer?I have difficulty with that idea when we start talking, for instance, about the old hymns that don’t sing to God, or even about God. Maybe they sing about mansions over hilltops or poor wayfaring strangers, or any other number of esoteric (ha) topics. And that’s where my definition of worship conflicts with variety. Or, someone else could argue, that’s just another example of variety, and it’s my taste, and who am I to say those songs aren’t worship.Could be, but I would also say that we (especially in traditional) Churches of Christ, need to understand worship more completely and outside of the two-songs-prayer box.I’m also harping a lot on songs here, and I appreciate comments many have made about worship being so much more.And to really backtrack, I really like what Sara said in her first comment about getting people into their own Bibles and prayers during the week. When that’s happening, so many more opportunities open for meaningful coroporate worship, even in the varieties that aren’t our preference.


  6. Perhaps this thought will aid us in this conversation. In one of my first posts titled “When do you give up?” I spoke about how God created us to be in relationship with Him. Can our worship be a window into what our relationship with God was when we were in the garden? Adam and Eve walked and talked with God, isn’t that what we are trying to replicate in a way?


  7. Brian: I think so. Or at least that’s a part of it. But so much has happened since then. (Forgive the understatement.)Should that be our goal? It’s an interesting thought. I’ve heard people say that’s heaven.And again, back to what Sara said about people doing their own thing individually outside of service. Should corporate worship then be more about our relationship with God as a body? More “we” than “I”? We can worship on our own any time. We can only worship as a family as often as we are together.Maybe we should save the individual stuff for small groups and personal study. Does that mean abolish invitation songs?When we are in corporate worship, the focus should be more on us as a family. Family issues, which, I suppose could lead to discussion of individuals or smaller groups within the family. Tear me up.


  8. Another thought. Regarding how our worship services are not like anything we read about in the New Testament…I think a lot of what we do comes straight out of Revelation. The numerous creatures, elders, angels, saints, etc. standing before God and shouting and singing praises to him.That is what I think of when I think of the ultimate worship experience.


  9. Maybe we have incorrectly labeled a church gathering together (specifically on Sundays or Wednesdays) as a worship service. Perhaps those CAN be times of worship (as worship happens anytime we focus on God and His works), but their main focus is fellowship and instruction. God gave each one of us different gifts to use to His glory on those around us. Since God made us different from one another, then we will all have our own way of making worship to Him. If someone has the gift of evangelism and he/she tries his hand at missions while neglecting his gift of evangelism then I’d say that he is not worshipping God to his fullest potential. As I said before, worship can happen at a church service, but we should be attending as a fellowship where we can collaberate all our gifts and make a bigger impact on the world for Christ. If the aim is worship, we have missed the idea of a church meeting, but if the aim is gaining knowledge, refueling, and teaming up to take the world by storm, then worship will certainly follow.


  10. Where to start? I love the spirit of this conversation, by the way. There have been many of these I’ve been in that have been…well…not as life-giving, shall we say?There are many different places in the Bible that allude to what our purpose is, I think. One is Ecc 12:13-“fear God and keep His commandments, this is the whole duty of man.” Then we have the Micah verse, “and what does the Lord require of you, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” And there’s the Genesis stuff that Brice talked about. Maybe even more bottom line than being created for worship, is that we were created for relationship with God? Two things about Brian’s short comment: 1) Feel free to nail me, but I am of the persuasion that it’s okay to arouse emotion in people during worship. In fact, I think if it’s done responsibly, it can greatly enhance worship. Responsibly meaning you certainly don’t want to be manipulative. I’ve been to one too many cry sessions were pretty much as deep as we get is to boo-hoo all over each other and the focus is more on everyone’s emotion than God. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about genuine emotions: gratitude, desperation, longing, joy-all of these being directed toward God to glorify Him. I think when we use music in any sense, in any form, it Will conjure up emotion in some form. 2) I think having different styles of services is part of the answer. For example, I love some outward expression in worship services. It brings what’s happening in my heart full circle and makes it more real to me. My sister Holly, on the other hand, has a different personality. That kind of expression makes her uncomfortable to the point that she can’t focus on God. So, it works better for her to go to a different kind of Church. Both preach the Bible, both worship God, but they are different styles. However, I think that’s only part of the answer. I could go off into how the pendulum swings back and forth through history with expression, litugy, etc., as far as what is used, but I think I will refrain.This is getting too long, but I think the idea of worship services being for the purpose of corporate worship as opposed to personal worship is also part of the mix. There is something that happens when we worship with other believers that doesn’t happen when you’re alone in your living room.Okay, quitting now.


  11. Thanks for all the comments everyone. It’s truly been an enlightening conversation. I genuinely appreciate the maner in which we were able to hold this conversation which at times can easily become heated. Feel free to keep the comments coming. It’s exciting to hear other perspectives.


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