Although your church may have great music and the band knows their parts and song transitions, worship is so much more than this. Although these upcoming categories apply to life in general, they are also categories we can also follow in musical worship particularly so that our focus remains true to the heart of worship.
Worship is For God
Worship is a response to who God is. In other words, it’s a response to God’s revelation of his character and nature to us. We learn about God primarily through scripture, creation, and other people. When we get glimpses of who God is, our response is an expression of worship. All creation praises God. The amazing things is that if we did not sing out and praise God, the Bible says the rocks would cry out in praise. It is our great privilege and honor to praise him ourselves. If you are on a worship team, it’s an additional honor to lead his people in worshipping him! God is worthy of our worship and praise simply because of who he is. We see that when the Bible speak of the person of Jesus:
Colossians 1:15-17 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
In heaven, the angels worship God continually and for all eternity. So will we! This is really why we were created: to worship with a life that honors him.
Worship is About God
Psalm 66:1-5 Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious.Say to God,How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your powerYour enemies shall submit themselves to You. All the earth shall worship You And sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name. Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people!
Not only is worship for God but it is about him. The psalms repeatedly declare the works of God and talk about his character and his mighty deeds. The more we sing the truth about who God is, not only do we come into a greater understanding of who he is through both revelation and reminder, but we also explain who God is to those who do not yet know him.
Worship is To God
Psalm 30:4 Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name.
While it is excellent to sing about God, singing to God is a form of intimacy in worship. In other words, the expression of your heart in that moment is a gift to him. Just as the woman poured out her expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet in adoration, so we have the opportunity to express our hearts to God, thanking him for who he is and what he has done and for choosing to have a relationship with us through Jesus’ work on the cross.
Worship Recognizes Our Need
Jesus says that he desires worshippers to worship in spirit and truth. Perhaps the greatest truth is to recognize that we are nothing apart from the finished work of Christ on the cross and are totally lost without him. When we embrace this reality and come into worship with an attitude of surrender and humility, we are in the best place possible to worship God. When our plans fail as musicians for a flawless execution of a worship set, it often serves as an excellent reminder of why we are really there: to thank God that we can fully rely on him in the person of Jesus and not on ourselves. As someone once said, the greatest need you have is to admit you have need, and the greatest need of all was met by Christ at the cross.
2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Worship Engages Our Heart
When we come face to face with our own brokenness apart from God, we are reminded of just how much Christ has done for us at the cross. This realization produces thankfulness which engages our hearts in worship. The saying “it comes from the heart” is a reminder that when we are pouring out our worship from the heart it is as authentic as it gets. The Bible also says that from the heart, the mouth speaks.
Matt. 12:34 For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.
If we have gratitude in our heart, it will come forth in expressions of worship. When this happens, we see the spirit, or heart, behind the worship as the most important aspect of our worship. Of course, excellence in music and our service is important and we want to make our corporate worship orderly and intelligible, but as 1 Samuel 16:7 says, God looks at the heart when we worship him.
1 Samuel 16:7 “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
If we get the order right on a worship team–worship God first from the heart and then make it understandable to others–this will be the best way we can honor God in our musical worship and also the most attractive thing to someone who does not yet know him.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Read Colossians 1:16. How does worship relate to the idea of everything being for Christ?
- If you had to summarize worship in a sentence, what would it be? Is it different now than before this conversation?
- Think back to the best times of musical worship you have been a part of. What made it so meaningful to you?
- Which of the above categories of worship come naturally to you? Which can you grow in understanding and applying?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.