My concept of worship has changed over the past ten years. As I look back on when I first became a full time worship leader, I admit, I didn’t have a very good concept of worship. I understood song leading, since I am a musician, but I didn’t grasp the concept of worship leading. I have come to realize that almost anyone who can sing can be a song leader in front of a congregation, but there is a big difference between a song leader and a worship leader. The key to being an effective worship leader is this - you need to be a worshiper first! And to be a worshiper you must understand what worship is. This is true for everyone - you must understand what worship is before you can worship God.
You know what I found out? Most of the worship books of today seem to emphasize one thing in common - that worship is defined by how you live your life. The more I began to read, the more I realized how many authors equate worship to Christian lifestyle. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that there must be something more specific about the practice of worship than just living your life for God. Of course it is important to live your life for God, but is that truly worship? I began to question the common definition of worship found in today’s religious world.
I’ve read all kinds of definitions of worship from many different authors. Some say simply listening to a sermon is worship. Others say that any action we do that glorifies God is worship. I’ve read that teaching someone about Jesus is worship and serving other is worship. Here are more examples of what’s being taught today: preaching is worship, obedience is worship, giving money in the Sunday offering is worship, and giving our life for God’s use is worship. Obviously, all these are good and honor God, but are they really worship? I think not.
I'm convinced that there is a difference between serving God and worshiping God, but today people seem to mix them together. Likewise, there is a difference between giving God glory and worshiping Him, but many would question that. Serving God, living for Him, evangelizing, singing, witnessing, and being a Christian example to others are edifying to God, but should they be grouped into one broad definition of worship? Is it possible that we have watered down our worship, taking what should
be a concentrated, focused effort and turning it into a thinned out and
I attended a Worship Leader seminar a few years ago in Austin, Texas. The event offered several workshops on all kinds of subjects pertaining to leading worship. There was one that caught my eye. The topic was worship theology. Sure enough, the instructor offered a definition of worship that was incredibly diluted. He said, “Worship is everything we do in life that is pleasing to God”. I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding!” Everything we do in life that is pleasing to God is worship? He even used the illustration of a husband serving his wife by doing the dishes, and called that an act of worshiping God. What?! Doing the dishes for your wife is an admirable thing to do, but is that really worshiping God?
Here's what I believe: worship and service are different. More to come on why that philosophy is popular today, and what the bible says about worship verses service.