Not Worshiping Worship . . .

Our American culture is very much a consumer driven entertainment-based culture.  That has transferred in some ways to the concert style church. The very picture included was the first image I came up with in a google search for the word “worship;” A concert spectator style worship. I realize that all church services must be relatable to the people they serve. So making use of the familiar rock concert may not necessarily be a bad thing if there is a way to build meaningful relationships on a deeper level.

What most people don’t seem to realize is that the sermon as the main stay of the traditional church came about in an age where public rhetoric was the main stay of entertainment.  Our culture has mostly moved on from long informational speaking and debates and now rely on pithy tweets to convey information in short bursts. With the onset of electronics, speakers and lighting, our entertainment choices have shifted. Today we seek out the visual in music, movies and on the internet through such apps as TikTok. Blogs such as myself, though read across the world, do not have the visual appeal that multi-media apps have. Something down the road I hope to also transition into as I still work out my thoughts on the church and how to communicate them.

So, it becomes too easy to throw shade at mis-appropriation of the love to worship verses the love of who we worship. The concert style church may be the most popular, but it does not hold a monopoly on worship.

Recently I have had the opportunity to visit two very distinct churches in my area.  Both are generationally way different, but it was great to be in two congregations that sang enthusiastically their worship either via hymns or contemporary choruses.  But you may be surprised to hear what they did have in common whether they realized it or not (beside their love of Jesus). They both expressed worship in a very biblical sense though worlds apart musically.

There are seven basic Hebrew words for worship (and multiple applications and variations).  This is something I learned early on and I wish to share with you.

  • YADAH (2nd Chronicles 20.19-21) to lift one’s hands acknowledging need and dependence upon God.
  • TOWDA (Psalm 50.23) the lifting of one’s hands as an offering of praise and love for things received and yet to be received.
  • HALA (Psalm 13.3) Halleluiah! Derived from to shine, to boast, to rave, to celebrate – to talk and clamor about God all the time.
  • SHABACH (Psalm 63.3 117.1-2) to SHOUT with a loud voice
  • BARAK (Psalm 72.12-15, 18) to kneel in worship, sedate and formal, in total awe, to receive something in humility, rejoicing in God’s strength.
  • ZAMAR (Psalm 57.8,9) to worship on stringed instruments, to worship musically, to twitch or twang.  (Please note that this also implies a sense of rhythm instruments of their day not to dissimilar to the the modern day rhythmic guitar.)
  • TEHILLA – (Psalm 22.3, as well as referenced in Eph 5.19, Col 3.16, 1 Cor 14.15) to sing out loud to the Lord.

One was a very traditional evangelical church, and the other one geared specifically to reach millennials and zoomers.  Ironically what they also both had in common also was their emphasis on the need to love one another.

What did Jesus say the two greatest commandments were?

  • Matthew 22:37-40 ESV – 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

And I think that is why though they worshiped, they did not worship their worship.  Because they had the love of God and others as their foundation.  (I have been in too many evangelical churches that loved their organ more than the people they hope to reach as much as a contemporary churches loves their worship band at the expense of previous generations and their need to worship.) The answer to “professional only” performance-based Christian worship is not bash someone’s music style or the generation they are relevant towards just because it may not be our style, but to preach more about love, which they both did! The unspoken theology is that love must be the basis for worship over talent or style.

  • John 13:35 ESV – 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

So as always, love much my friends.

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