Philosophy of Worship: Introduction (or a directive thesis)

This is part 1 of the Philosophy of Worship, basically just the intro, setting up the rest:

An observer of a Sunday morning worship service, especially at a more ‘contemporary’[1] service, would notice that worship in our churches is primarily in a musical format. The language we use in the worship service tends to lean toward emphasizing worship in the musical format. A casual, first-time observation of a worship service might also lead one to believe that the band is there for a performance, especially when your musicians are gifted and talented. What is not observable in a singular worship service is what is happening underneath the surface.

A few months ago I was asked to lead worship for a High School camp. I spent time picking out songs I believed High School students would enjoy and engage with. I sent the list to the youth pastor to check over, made adjustments and prepared myself as best I could to lead a group of students I had never met. While at the camp I attempted to perform at my best, to engage with the students and to pull them into the experience with me. Despite all my preparation I did not know how the students were truly engaging, I just had to do my best every time I was playing and singing. Now, that same observer from above may have seen a young guy with ‘cool clothes’ and stylish haircut and probably one too many guitars for a one-man show. What that observer could not know, without being apart of my side of the experience, was that the most important part of my preparation and performances was my heart condition.

An observer cannot see what is happening under the surface, where the leaders heart is. An observer cannot see the heart condition of the worshiper in the congregation either. This, however, is the most vital part of worship. It is the difference between a secular concert and an authentic worship experience. In my experience as a worship leader, it was the times I led from the heart—even if I felt ill prepared to lead in other ways—that God moved the most dramatically. At this camp I led from the heart and through a song and an exegesis of this song a girls life was changed dramatically. Even months after, when I talk with her, she still thanks me for my leading, for that song and for what I said. Over the course of the rest of these blogs I will explore different aspects of worship and see how the heart condition affects those areas.


[1] Distinctively modern in style

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