Posted by: Susan Gaddis | May 7, 2009

Hijacking Worship

Prayer, fasting, giving and meditating in the Scriptures are all spiritual disciplines. So is worship. I don’t usually put worship on my list of spiritual disciplines. A spiritual practice for sure, but I haven’t listed it as a discipline; at least not in my mind.

I’ve been reading over the Psalms and noticing how often that book puts us in the place of ministering before the Lord with praise and thanksgiving. The New Testament goes beyond mere ministers and calls us priests. Priests minister before and to the Lord.

Worship is the main ministry we do for the Lord even if all we are is a “gatekeeper in the house of our God.” Pretty big assignment if you ask me. Worship is work. It is what we will be doing for the rest of eternity future. It is something we are to learn to do well and practice even now, and it doesn’t always come easy. That’s why I think it is a spiritual discipline.

However, something I’ve noticed in my circle of Charismatic relationships is that worship isn’t always regarded as our spiritual work. It’s been hijacked into being one of our unalienable rights to a good spiritual experience.

Some seem to think that church is not really church unless we have a moving encounter with God during worship. If our emotions aren’t involved then worship doesn’t cut it. If one is not emotionally stirred then the service isn’t spiritual enough. Some people even change churches because their expectation of good worship isn’t being met at their current place “of worship.”

I wonder how many worship teams believe that their job description is to provide a time for people to experience God or that they are to set an atmosphere where people can encounter Him. I hope they understand that their job is to minister before the Lord and to do so in front of all of us in the congregation so that as a community of worshippers we can follow their lead in worshipping the Lord of Heaven and Earth.

I’m not against having good feelings or an awesome experience when I worship. I especially appreciate it when I encounter God during worship. But a gatekeeper, or a worshipper, doesn’t always encounter the Lord of the Manor. Gatekeepers, or servants, are known for how unnoticeable they are. They blend into the background and not the forefront. Good feelings, awesome experiences, and encountering the Living God are not the purpose of worship. These are byproducts. Good byproducts, but byproducts none the less.

It was King David who said that he would not offer to God that which had cost him nothing. One reason the Scriptures call us to give ourselves as a living sacrifice and to offer the sacrifice of praise is because sacrifices can only be given when we have to forfeit something. A sacrifice will cost you. Bottom line–we are not on the receiving end when we worship. We are on the giving end.

When we gather together as the church, we assemble to minister to the Lord. Our job description, every one of us, is to bless Him and minister to Him. Not the other way around. Sounds like work to me!

So the work of worship deserves more study, practicing, perfecting, and performing. I’ll let you know how my musings on this spiritual discipline go.

Susan

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Responses

  1. Bingo… Susan, I believe you nailed it! Your 6th paragraph was well articulated! I believe you nailed it right on… with your words “Good feelings, awesome experiences, and encountering the Living God are not the purpose of worship. These are byproducts. Good byproducts, but byproducts none the less.” Ahhh… music to my ears… no pun intended.

    I think that if we truly worship God in spirit and truth (shunning false motives)… then God inhabits His people’s praises… and then where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. But it all starts with worship that is intended to “minister to the Lord/glorify Him”, not “set an atmosphere”. Brilliant!
    -jer

  2. I liked that as well. How often have I approached worship as a means or tool to “ready my heart” for the message? As if participating in some form of self-preparation to better receive. When in reality, I should be coming to service already prepared to minister before, and to, the Lord.

  3. Thank you Susan for sharing your wisdom! I agree wholeheartedly, although I have certainly been guilty myself of giving my worship with strings attached (ie: expecting or hoping for an experience) instead of freely giving for the purpose of blessing-not merely to be blessed. I think we need to be reminded and challenged to live our worship and to stop expecting or waiting for worship to overtake us. You’re right, it is work more often than it isn’t. But isn’t that the beauty of who we serve…he accepts what we have to offer while teaching and drawing us to a more excellent way!

    Just today I shared with our bible study Romans 12. As part of the discussion we talked about what you stated, it isn’t a true sacrifice if it costs you nothing. It’s great to experience God’s truth coming alive in the midst of his body, near or far.
    I was blessed by your words. Thank you. Jenn

  4. Susan, I agree wholeheartedly. You have wonderfully expressed the essence of worship – to minister to the Lord. As “worship leader” at our little church (actually more like “disk jockey” since we use recorded music for worship) I sometimes wonder if I should have picked different songs or played them in a different order when people don’t get into the worship. Sometimes that maybe the case but, usually when worship is flat it’s because we have forgotten that it’s all about Him – ministering to and glorifying Him.

  5. Agggghhhhhhhh! That’s exactly how I feel. Lets just simply say,”just one day in the courts of the Lords is better than anything”.Period. That is worship, no guitar, no singer just a heart that knows the Greatness of God.


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