It seems like such a simple, harmless question. But what does it mean? What are we really trying to get at by asking such a question? How do we judge whether worship is “good” or not? Are we even entitled to make such a judgment? If our worship is truly for God, then shouldn’t God alone be the one who passes judgment on whether worship is “good” or not? God sees our hearts and knows the motives behind our offerings of worship.
At the heart of this question, “How was worship today?” is the idea of evaluation. Worship is always being evaluated. Although it may be informal, everyone that leaves church on Sunday has evaluated that service in one way or another. The real question becomes what is driving our evaluations? Evaluations might be based on any number of things: the number of people in attendance, the length of the sermon, the pronunciation of the lector, or the number of flubbed notes by the musician.
Is it possible to move beyond these surface-level evaluations into the deeper substance of worship? The next time you’re leaving worship and you catch yourself evaluating how it went, try using these questions to consider the things that are essential to worship:
- Was our worship Trinitarian? Did we name the Trinity and include Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in our worship?
- Was God’s epic narrative of salvation, from beginning to end, the centerpiece of our worship?
- Were the primary symbols of baptismal font, communion table, and pulpit central to our space for worship?
- Was there enough scripture reading in our worship for a full, rich telling of God’s story?
- Was there time for prayer and reflection in our worship?
- Did our worship engage all people assembled and invite them to participate with all their senses?
- Were we connected to the death and resurrection of Jesus and pulled deeper into our baptismal journey through our worship?
- Did our worship send us out following Jesus in joyful, loving service of the world?
So, how was worship today? Perhaps a better question is, “Who was worshiped today?”