As a kid in the little church where I grew up, the “worship service” was the interminable hour of the week that, if suitably endured without complaint or fidget, would be followed by the biggest meal of the week, often with dessert, and a lazy Sunday afternoon free of schoolwork or chores. But that hour! I remember hard wooden pews, “grown up” hymns with forgettable melodies and more verses than there were Brady Bunch kids, indecipherable liturgies, and Bible readings that never seemed to include the cool stories that were taught in Sunday School just the hour before.
It wasn’t that I hated it, but I tolerated it like the last class before the end of the school day with an eye on the clock and my mind on the freedom that the bell would bring. What a loss! I wish I knew then what I know now. What I know now is that worship is broad enough to surround everything I do, and deep enough to inform all my loss, pain and grief.
Worship is everything
That “interminable hour” has blossomed into what I believe to be the only true activity in life–the only thing that really matters, the only thing that endures, the only thing that can be offered to God or others without the taint of our grubby, fallen humanness. And it isn’t just the babbled words of the liturgies, hymns, or praise songs. It is everything.
What does worship look like?
Worship isn’t an hour of forced activity (or to a kid, forced inactivity). Worship is everything that we do, consciously or unconsciously, aesthetically or practical, noble or base, that reflects the character of God with the intent to honor God. It’s anything from singing Handel’s Messiah onstage for the Queen of England to slinging a bowl of cold cereal for a five-year-old before you’ve had your own morning coffee. In fact, it’s probably more the latter than the former.
Worship is the split second prayer before eyes even open that says “Thank you for today, Lord. Please go with me.” It’s a response to the prompting to send an encouraging text, make time for another over coffee, or even just sit quietly next to another. It’s not constrained to hands and voices engaged at church. It spills out of a life that’s filled and overflowing with the presence of God’s spirit. If it’s not present outside the church, it won’t be present inside.
Believers don’t GO to church to worship, they BRING their worship to church. It doesn’t move from the church to our lives. It starts in each heart, pulses through each life during the week, and only finds an explicit vocal expression for a tiny sliver of time at a weekend worship service. A “worship service” then becomes merely a melodic affirmation by voices already vibrant with the presence and work of God in their lives. You may not sing a note Monday through Saturday, but a life of praise echoes in the halls of heaven more sweetly than anything sung by Ariana Grande, Whitney Houston, or Julie Andrews.
We “get to” worship
This isn’t an “oughtta” or “gotta” thing. It’s a “getta” thing. We get to worship. God inhabits the praises of his people (Ps 22:3), and exalts their praise (Ps 148:14). His are the whistles and stomping feet from the far reaches of the audience. The door is open and his arms are wide. This is a privilege that comes from relationship with God. Unbelievers don’t have this privilege. They have no relationship with God and are unable to worship God.
This sense of “get to,” and of the open door we are given is unbelievably encouraging to me. This is where it’s a wonder. God affirms my atonal, raspy-throated voice, and he affirms the worship from my atonal, raspy-throated life. The tiny, tentative crumbs I can offer are deemed worthy of a king and are given the same standing as if they were made of gold, packaged in tiny aqua Tiffany boxes, and hand delivered by a butler in tuxedo arriving in a long black limo.
So what’s the application here? It’s NOT a “to do.” Those get lost, pushed aside or ignored for lack of priority or lack of interest. Me, I see an open door. I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side. Will you join me?
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I so enjoyed this blog! Thank you Scott for your perspective on worship!! It blessed me so much! I LOVE worship whether in church, at home listening to my favorite worship songs late at night when the house is quiet or washing dishes and the Lord brings a song to me. All 3 of those ways to worship happen in my life all the time. I love what you said about you ‘GET’ to worship! Truly it is a privilege and a joy to sing praises to the Lord out of a heart overflowing with His Presence! Great Message! Thank you!!!
Glad to hear Mom! Yes, we “getta” worship-what a privilege! There’s another blog about “getta” rolling around in my head that just hasn’t fallen out onto paper yet.
Great perspective Scott!
Thank you Cyn!
Wonderfully put! I worship God every second I breathe- It’s not meant just for a gathering- Worship Him in the kitchen, worship Him in the shower, on a walk, in your car- EVERYWHERE! God is alive and will meet you where you are. The first time I discovered this was when my husband lay in the hospital after emergency heart surgery (which brought me back to God) I was working in the kitchen when the song “You Never Let Go of Me” by Matt Redman,played on the radio. The song that brought me back, now ministered to me and I began to dance and sing and was flooded with God’s presence- IN MY KITCHEN! Worship God – everywhere because He is EVERYWHERE! Can I get an AMEN?
Amen Hosswriter! Sometimes it seems that the greatest worship comes in the most mundane times or places.
Thank you so much, Scott, for sharing your heart regarding worship. It really touched my heart. I read it early this morning while still in bed and I was brought to tears. I had never thought of worship in these terms and it gives me a lot to think about. I have difficulty worshipping when the music is too loud and other love it.
I realize after reading this that I worship many times as I am praying for someone. We have never met but I have been praying much for you, Michelle, and your precious family for months now. As I pray through tears many times, now I realize it is a form of worship.
Also, I had never thought about sending an encouraging text or just sitting quietly with a friend, would be worship. God has me send encouraging texts to Michelle almost daily and it now has a new meaning.
God brings Michelle and your family to mind many times during the day and even at night sometimes and I pray for y’all. Having read your blog, really shows me the sweet spirit God has given to you, Scott, and I am so glad He has you and Michelle together. What a blessing!
Please give Michelle a hug from me. I hope to meet her one day. She encourages me everyday with her posts on Facebook. I am so thankful for the special friendship God has blessed us with in a unique way. Please give Bryce a hug as well.
Have a blessed day in the Lord and know I am praying much for each of you.
Love n hugs to y’all,
“Believers don’t GO to church to worship, they BRING their worship to church.” Wow! Love that!!
That was one of my favorite lines too, Gretchen! Thanks for visiting the blog. Hope we see you hear again!
“Worship isn’t an hour of forced activity (or to a kid, forced inactivity). Worship is everything that we do, consciously or unconsciously, aesthetically or practical, noble or base, that reflects the character of God with the intent to honor God.” This is beautiful and so true! Yes, we GET TO participate in worship! Thank you, Scott, for this great post! Blessings to you! I’m a neighbor at #FreshMarketFriday.
I find it to be a true attitude shifter when I think in terms of “I get to…” whether it is worship, work, cook dinner for my family, etc. Many have prayed for the things that we might dismiss. Ouch.