When I was in seminary, I took a course called “Philosophy of Worship.” The course project was to compose a document that described my personal philosophy of what worship is and what it’s for. It’s one thing to write such a thing for class – it’s a totally different thing to make decisions, pick music, plan services, teach volunteers, and serve a church while following that philosophy. However, I think I stick to what I believe about worship in the majority of my actions.
I wanted to share some of my core convictions about worship in order to stimulate thought and discussion. These convictions in no way sum up my philosophy of worship, but are just learnings and thoughts I’ve collected along the way. And I in no way have it all figured out…
1. Worship is for God – not for us.
Worship is essentially an offering/sacrifice. And for something to be offered/sacrificed, it has to be given to someone else wholly [without holding any back]. So when I worship God, everything becomes his – my heart, my life, my song, my thoughts, my will…etc. It is all for Him, not for me.
The problem is when we get too wrapped up in what worship does for us. I don’t deny that we get stuff out of worship – encouragement, fellowship, peace, joy, Spirit-filled…etc. It’s even clear in the first Testament that God rewards the faithfulness of His worshipers. Genesis 22…Abraham got something out of his worship…a ram to take the place of Isaac. Even a portion of some sacrificed animals was kept and prepared as a celebration for the family. But our tendency is to get more wound up over the blessings of worship than the One we worship. We get more overjoyed by grace, rather than the God that provides it.
So worship takes the spotlight off us. God is the central character in the drama of worship. And the sacrifice of worship is for Him, not for us. Any blessings we receive from worshiping God are purely a bi-product of the goodness of God. We shouldn’t worship God to get something out of it. We should worship God because He is worthy to receive glory, honor, riches, wisdom, power, strength…etc.