I’ve written a little about worship in the past. As someone who’s “been around the block” with regard to worship, I have often voiced that much of what happens under the guise of worship is not really worship (and thereby admitting that some of my own concepts of worship were not accurate, or at least adequate).
Today, Pastor Matt Richard posted a great, Biblical definition of worship entitled Worship: It Is About Receiving God’s Best, Not Giving Ours, quoting from another church’s statement on worship:
It has often been taught that we speak to God in worship; that we summon his presence and offer Him praise. This view sees God as the audience of our worship. However, this is a pagan concept of worship. In pagan worship, the worshiper comes before his or her god to bring offerings and to present requests in order to please the particular god and get the god to respond to the worshiper in the way the worshiper desires. (Lev. 10:1-3; Jer. 32:35; Ps. 78:56-59)
Christian worship is the exact opposite. God is the speaker. We are the audience. He has called and invited us before Him; He has called and invited us before Him together so that He can talk with us. In both the Old and New Testament worship God’s Word, that speaks to us, is central to the gathering. (Ex. 29:42; Neh. 9:1-4; Acts 2:14-47)
God speaks and we listen and respond. Through His Word, the Bible, God shows His character and His works. He speaks to us about our sin and about the way of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
This is how grace works in worship. Many people have turned worship into another performance-based activity by which we can judge ourselves (or others). Was our attitude right? Did we focus appropriately? Did we get to caught up in the music? Are we worshipping with our hearts, or just our heads? If we’re asking these kinds of questions, I think we’ve turned worship around.
Here’s a way to judge worship: Who is doing the speaking?