The act of corporate worship is a strange thing. As worship leaders, we are essentially inviting and encouraging people to do something very vulnerable: we’re asking them to openly encounter God. A lot of people have fears about how they are perceived, a crippling fear of doing anything in front of people, let alone being outwardly expressive or vulnerable in public.
Even if the act of expressing worship to God (engaging their mouths, hands, and bodies in
public) isn’t embarrassing enough, there are often extenuating factors that can really hold
people back from engaging God.
What is worship and why do we do it?
Corporate Worship is a community of prayer that recognizes and ascribes to God His worth and responds to His revelation.
A community of prayer – Worship is prayer, a conversation with God, communicating with Him. There is a Biblical precedent to use music in worship. Music also is a practical way to enable us to worship God together.
that recognizes and ascribes to God His worth – God is our Creator and our Redeemer. He is
worthy of praise because of who He is and what He’s done.
and responds to His revelation – You cannot worship God without knowing God. Worship is our response to what He reveals to us about Himself.
The truth is everyone has been created to worship, and is already a worshiper. Even if you don’t know it, you are already a great worshiper. The question then is what or whom are you
worshiping? Whatever you spend your attention and your affection on, your time and your
money, that is what you worship.
The very word “worship”, is derived from an Old English word weorþscipe, worthsippe, or
worth-ship. The word in its original form means literally to ascribe worth, to give worth, glory, or praise to something.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1646) states:
Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
How can you enjoy God? You need to know Him first. You can neither enjoy nor worship God if you don’t know Him. A relationship with God is a crucial part of worship. We worship God for many reasons: we worship God for who He is, we worship God for what He’s done. We respond to His revelation: what He has revealed to us about Himself. Our revelation of God comes out of relationship with Him—it's impossible to worship Him otherwise. Even if you’ve only just met God, you can still worship Him. But unless you cultivate a relationship, you will be hard pressed to worship a person you don’t know. You cannot truly give all of yourself to God without this relationship, without knowing Him first.
Eugene Peterson says:
Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God.
Worship pulls us back into relationship with God. Our very humanity was created for relationship with God, and Worship allows us to fulfill our purpose by becoming more fully human. It reminds us that we are not in control, and places our needs back in the hands of our heavenly Father.
In God, there’s so much more for us to discover, to aspire to, than what this world offers.
Focusing on God will require us to step away from whatever is capturing our attention, and
devote it to Him instead. The intimacy and vulnerability of worship express a deep,
gratitude-driven relationship with a perfect Father who loves us. This relationship is fundamental to becoming a true worshiper. Worship also transforms us specifically into the thing we worship. It’s both an expressive and a formative practice. Regular worship helps to remind us where our priorities lie, and to shape our hearts and minds in the image of God.
For more on this topic check out Ascribing Worth, which is available here.