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Are You Cutting the Crust Off of Worship?

Four phrases I despise, five that I abominate.

“Man, I loved the worship.”

“I won’t be at worship today.”

“As we begin worship … .”

“OK, when the worship is done, let’s show a video.”

“Let’s do some more worship after the sermon.”

Can we please stop having the micromachine view of worship? Worship is more than a song.

Where’s the crust?

When we refer to the worship of God through song as the worship, we are, unintentionally, paralyzing the kind of worship that extends to the crust of life. When worship is only song, we’ve served up a meal for kiddos—we’ve axed the crust. And that’s the stuff of adults. And didn’t our parents say that’s where the best nutrition lies? (Maybe they were lying.)

Worship is not less than singing, but it is so much more. The whatever we do in life is an opportunity to worship the Triune God. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

The whatever is the crust of life. A dad who stops making his coffee and slings together some almond milk with stirred in chocolate syrup for his kid—that can be worship. Drinking coffee can be worship. Coffee is amazing. Repentance is worship. Thinking over the wonder of sovereign grace is worship.

Worship is more than a song. Life under the reign of God is worship. “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1). Worship is more than a song.

Sunday worship.

I don’t mean to go on a vocab-induced rage against “worship” being used solely for the music portion of a gathering of saints—maybe just a flare gun, a spiritual spit-wad, if such things are allowed in Blogdom.

There are two Newtonian effects from the choppy use of “worship.”

When only the music is referred to as worship, this draws a long pause in the sheet music of the church’s liturgy. This communicates that the sermon isn’t worship. But isn’t it? This communicates that the giving of tithes and offerings isn’t worship. And dumbest of all, we pit serving in the kids’ ministry versus being “in worship”—as though, you know, serving the little children isn’t worshipful.

Heaven is what?

The second result of worship just being a song is that we end up selling people a fear and trembling view of eternity. Many Christians find themselves embarrassingly nervous about eternity because they think it’s going to be an eternal worship service. Yes, there will be singing, but that won’t be all we do—because that’s not all worship is. Why have streets of gold if we are going to be cooped up in an eternal chapel service? Eternity will look a lot more like Eden than it does on any given Sunday. Eternity will be filled with worship, not in pews, but in spirit and in truth.

Mindful of our meanings.

Leaders in local churches must lead in this area. Our theological thesaurus matters. Here’s what I try to do at Redeemer Church. I’m not perfect. I fall into the easy-speak oven from time to time, but here’s how I try to speak about worship at our local church.

At Redeemer Church, we worship through song, sermon, serving and sacrificial giving.

The songs, if sung in faith, are worship.

The sermon, if given and received in faith, is worship.

The serving—the greeting, the diaper changing, the encouraging one another, etc.—if done in faith, is worship.

The sacrificial giving, if given in faith, is worship.

We must remind people, just like the woman at the well in John 4, that worship isn’t just about this mountain or that mountain, or that song or this song—but it’s about worshiping Jesus in spirit and in truth, in the whatevers, for his glory, fame and under his lordship in all of life.

Like Jimmy Needham sings, “Worship is more than a song.”