Spiritual Growth Through Worship
"Worship" was originally spelled "worth-ship" and means "to acknowledge the worth" of God; the One who is the only worthy object of our lives and worship.
"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth." - Jesus (John 4:24)
"In worship, the conscience is quickened by the holiness of God,
the mind is fed by the truth of God,
the imagination is purged by the beauty of God,
the heart is opened to the love of God, and
the will is devoted to the purpose of God."
- William Temple
The Purpose and Power of Worship: We worship our Creator and Redeemer who so loved us that He gave Himself a ransom for us to set us free from the dominion of darkness! (Cf. John 3:16; Mark 10:45; Colossians 1:13.) As we worship Him we become more like Him; more filled with His grace and self-giving love.
This gradual and wonderful result occurs because, in worship, we inevitably become more like the One we worship. For this reason an important component of worship is to reflect on the attributes of God and to praise him for each aspect of his holiness.
All humans must therefore worship wisely. For instance, if a person worships idols or animals, he or she tends to become like them in spirit; if a person worships demons or various earth spirits, he or she is influenced to become like them; if a person attributes ultimate worth to material possessions, he or she tends to become cold and hard. Some humanists suggest we should worship ourselves or our potential, but if we set ourselves up as of ultimate worth we can never become more than what we are.
Christian worship is much more than these lesser things - it is to worship the One who made us and is redeeming us. Christian worship is to be restored to the fullness of His purpose in creating us in his own image (Genesis 1:26-28). Yet our worship is ultimately for a higher purpose. We worship not because doing so lifts us above ourselves, but we worship the only true and living God because of the unspeakably ultimate and absolute "worth-ship" of Yahweh.
Streams of Expression: Worship of the True and Living God who saves us in Christ can be expressed in many ways. The Christian community has moved generally in three broad streams, all of which are rich, deep and wonderful expressions of both corporate and personal worship:
Liturgical: in this stream, songs and prayers are prepared in advance and we can become so familiar with the pattern that we are led by the worship leaders as the words and truths of God's character are drawn into us without great effort on our part. The traditional denominations largely follow this approach.
Contemplative: in this stream, we are largely still and wait for the Lord to speak or members of the gathering to share those things they believe the Lord has given them to contribute in worship. This stream draws it's inspiration from the description shared by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14, particularly vs. 26-33. Some brethren and house-church movements tend towards this approach.
Ecstatic: in this stream, worship tends to be louder and more spontaneous and expressive as we "lose ourselves" in the Glory of God. Many Pentecostal movements follow this approach.
Many worshipping communities share elements of each of the above streams in varying proportions. Whether you find deeper engagement in the Lord through one expression or another may be related to the way God created you - i.e. your personality type.
The highest purpose of worship however is not related to our preferred way of worship but to loosing ourselves in the wonder of the glory of the Lord. Remember the story of Thomas Aquinas. I encourage you to experiment with each stream as you learn to worship transformatively and engage in the Glory and Grace of God!
The Gift of Music are like wings to worship, lifting us above the limitations of speech. Thousands of songs have been written over the centuries so enjoy the richness of both contemporary and classical expressions.
Scripture calls these "Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs" (Colossians 3:16). To download a growing collection that stir and encourage my heart, please click here (PDF format).
Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs can also be categorized as:
Personal and Corporate Worship: Songs and hymns can be sung, prayed, read or meditated on, privately or in small gatherings or larger groups.
Leading Worshippers into the Holy Place of God's presence: If you have opportunity to lead others in worship, you may benefit from reflecting on an approach to worship patterned on the Tabernacle ("meeting place") of God with His people. We were repeatedly and deeply blessed as worship leaders built on this approach to corporate worship during our years at New Life Community Church, Burnaby, BC Canada. To continue, please click here.