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5 Things Every Congregation Must Understand About Worship

I see four levels of worship going on, simultaneously, in our lives. The first is the worship God is after, the melody of worship, and the others are harmonies.

If we talk this way about worship, it will change our “music-only” fixation.

4. How Do We Worship? We Worship by Any Means Available to Us.

To withhold worship is to breed cynicism and interior self-sufficiency. That will serve many, it seems, just fine—until we reach our limits (typically revealed by crisis or nearness of death) and see we are not enough.

To offer worship is to get beyond spectating at the electrical outlet; it is to plug into the power that it helps connect us to. That is a choice.

Our physical actions affect our emotions. We posture ourselves to pray, our hearts lean into prayer. We engage in worship physically, our hearts are affected.

This is the reason we’re demonstrative at a football game or a concert. We need to put two and two together.

In other words, what happens in church is important to the degree that we both respond to it, and live out its implications in all areas of daily life.

What We Get Wrong

Every Sunday, in various shapes and forms, the liturgies of all kinds of churches provide vehicles for us to respond to God in worship. The sharing of the word, the sacraments, the singing of the songs that lead us home—these are all vital to the worshiper.

But if a worshiper does not engage with these mechanisms of devotion, then the heart may fail to experience the love of God for lack of initiative.

In other words, if we don’t lean, we don’t glean. (And yet, there is Grace, sweet Grace).

How We Get It Right

If music is provided for us, we engage with it and enter into prayer with it. We don’t spectate, “view” it or get lost in thinking about which songs we prefer, asking if the worship personnel are moving us adequately.

We engage in the Eucharist. We engage in the reading of the Scriptures. (But we also engage in responding to God in the way we talk about our boss when they are not there. We engage in worship by thinking about how we are responding to God in the way we speak to our spouse.)

We engage our whole selves in a time of worship. We step in. We lean in. We then expect God will meet us as we do.

Sacraments and songs and Scripture readings are places we go to meet with God. We choose to meet with God when these mechanisms of devotion are presented to us.

And we begin to develop rhythms in our lives that keep us thanking God at all times throughout the day.

5. When & Where Do We Worship? We Worship Anytime & Anyplace We Can.

First, before I speak to this topic, know that the gathering of the church to worship around the Scriptures, the sacraments and the songs is vital to the life of the Christian in my view.

As a general statement, on a Sunday, or in whatever time and space a community of Christians is gathering for worship that you or I can access, we should always be looking for ways to be with the Body of Christ (in a growing depth of community life).

While being alone in worship is both important, and at severe times, inevitable, we must not give up meeting together as Paul said, or our faith will become fragile and fragmented.

Having said that, this is also true: You and I don’t need a comfortable seat and a well-planned out set of songs to worship. We need a heart that is postured to worship.

We can then worship anywhere. It’s portable. We can sing in the shower, and it will change our hearts. We can listen to music and pray with it, and it will change our hearts.

We can quietly thank God when we can’t sleep in the middle of the night due to stress. It will change our hearts. We can be in captivity, as many great saints are and have been—and we can meet with God in worship.

There are no limits to when and where we can worship.

What We Get Wrong

We often speak of worship in limited, and limiting, terms. We need to begin to see all of life as an opportunity to respond to God.

Then our community gatherings for worship have a context, feeding and fueling the life of faith that can take a Christian through hell and back, and to the ends of the earth.

How We Get It Right

Begin to make plans to engage with God at many times and many places during the week you would not have normally chosen. Try the Daily Office. Try it. Start to see worship as part of your design, and your hope, and your healing.

Fill your life with worship, in all its forms.

God will meet you in the middle of your Life Worship.


Resources: These ideas form the foundation of the Essentials In Worship video course for worship leaders.

Question: Do you agree that these five points are hinge points for many of the things we and our churches miss related to worship?

This article originally appeared here.

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Dan Wilt, M.Min. is an artist, author, musician, educator, songwriter, communicator, and spiritual life writer. With 20+ years in the Vineyard family of churches, he serves in various ways to further a “New Creation” centered vision of the Christian life through media.