the weblog of Alan Knox

Worship again

Posted by on Feb 23, 2009 in blog links, worship | 9 comments

I’ve enjoyed the discussion about worship over at Arthur’s blog “the voice of one crying out in suburbia” (see his posts “A call for a new Reformation in the church: Worship, regulative or normative?“, “Good thoughts from John Frame on the Regulative Principle“, and especially “More on worship“). In that last post, he says:

I think I ended up being more narrowly focused in my post on worship than I intended. My point when I started thinking about this was not to throw mud at the RPW (regulative principle of worship), but instead to question the more broad sense of worship in the church. I have long sought a more pure worship form in Sunday gatherings (which I defined as being more “Reformed”), and I am still sympathetic to that desire, but that is not the end all of the Christian worship experience. I am concerned by an attitude in myself that if we “go to church” on Sunday, we have fulfilled our worship quota for the week when nothing could be further from the truth…

One, but only one, expression of a life of worship is corporate worship. That statement is not to denigrate or diminish the value of corporate worship, but to recognize that culturally and traditionally we expect to see the pinnacle of our worship to take place in a church on Sunday morning but that may not be the reality and probably shouldn’t be. We may affirm the idea of constant worship being a part of our general lives, but we still use the term “worship” in reference to corporate church gathering and focus our worship attention on the corporate expressions which I believe has led to an unhealthy delineation between worship and “the rest of the week”.

The disconnect between Sunday morning piety and the other six days where we live differently are crippling to the church.

(What follows is not a response to Arthur or to anyone who commented on his posts. Instead, his post, epsecially the last one, triggered me to think about worship again.)

Arthur brings up something that I’ve noticed as well. It is very difficult to discuss “worship” in the context of the American church (and perhaps in other nations as well, I don’t know) without the discussion centering on the church meeting. In fact, some readers probably bristle because I used the phrase “church meeting” instead of “worship service”. However, we must realize that the inclination to associate the church meeting with worship did not arise from Scripture.

Go ahead and study… you should. Studying the association in Scripture between the church meeting and worship is one of the reasons that I became interested in ecclesiology. But, that study also encouraged my interest in worship – not singing and praying and preaching, but worship, from the perspective of Scripture. And, as I studied worship in Scripture, I found that worship has more to do with how I live my life than what I do on Sunday mornings – although that is certainly part of it – around 1% of it (1-2 hours out of my 168 hour week). So, why do we act as if that 1-2 hours is 90% of our worship (or even all of it)?

In fact, our Sunday church meeting is not the entirety – not even the majority – of my “corporate worship” – that is, worship along with other people. What do I mean? Well, I work with other people; I live with other people; I invite other people to my house; I go to other people’s homes; I serve with other people. These activities happen throughout the week and should be lives as worship in the presence of other people, and since many of these people are believers as well, they are (or should be) worshiping also – corporate worship.

But, our worship principles (think regulative and normative principles of worship) are not very helpful in these times of worship – the majority of our worship. Whether the church sings hymns or choruses or chants or psalms does not help me worship God during 99% of my week. Whether the pastor’s teaching is expository or topical does not change how I worship God when I’m at dinner with friends. Whether we stand when we read Scripture or not does not tell me how to worship when my friends are visiting my home.

Yes, we need to talk about worship. We need to think about worship. But, more than that, we need to worship – we need to live a life – a whole life – 100% life – that honors God in everything that we do. As long as we continue to use the word “worship” as slang for the church meeting, I do not think we will understand what it means to worship. We will continue to caught up in things like what to sing or how to pray or how to teach – things not covered in Scripture at all – and we will the most important parts of life – walking daily with God, trusting him with every aspect of our lives (yes, even that insignificant aspect and yes, even that huge national problem), showing his mercy and grace, loving others, worshiping.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-23-2009


    Christendom has very firmly welded the word “worship” to what happens on Sunday,in this country as well.

    Until we grasp the truth of your last two paragraphs we will never be able to “worship in spirit and in truth”.

    “…an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”

    I’m certain Jesus wasn’t taking about those who do their “thing” an hour or so once,or twice, a week.

  2. 2-23-2009

    Jesus exalts two commands as true worship Alan. They are found in Matthew 22:37-38. I know this may be too simple of an answer, but worship for me starts there and ends there and is to be the plumbline of my being. I think if I get these two right (within my own subjectiveness) then these other subpoints of worship will be exactly that subpoints.

    What I mean is this. Rahter I lift my hands, sing from the Trinity Hymnal, sing Josh Redmons, Chris Tomlin, Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Toplady, Newton……. it doesn’t really matter because I am doing out of gratitude not some principle. My thoughts.

  3. 2-23-2009

    I have always refused to call what happens on Sunday mornings “worship”. One might ideally call it a meeting of Jesus’ followers, and identify what those people do when they meet (sing praises to God, pray, discuss the Word, encourage one another, etc.).

    The word that the NIV and some other translation translate as “worship” in Romans 12:1 might also be translated “service”. However, I think “worship” fits. Alan, you’re the Greek expert, so maybe you have something to say about this.

    If “worship” works there, then I see most of the rest of Romans telling us ways in which we can do this:
    -Do not conform to the pattern of this world
    -Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but…(use your gift)
    -Bless those who persecute you
    -Do not repay evil for evil

    The list goes on through the middle of chapter 15. Although not a complete list, Paul certainly seems to cover as lot of territory here.

    Is this not worship – love God and neighbor, believe God, accept His Son and obey Him (as explained in His Word)?

  4. 2-23-2009

    Aussie John,

    I read this “status” on Facebook today: “XXXX had a great time at YYYY church yesterday and can’t wait until next Sunday.” What about the other 7 3/4 days of the week? When we learn what worship is, and how to live a life of worship, then I think we’ll begin to understand what Jesus means in John 4 (which you referred to) and what Paul means in Romans 12.


    “Loving God and loving neighbor” is certainly necessary for worship! And, this is required of us ALL the time. Again, thinking about how to love God and love neihbor 24/7 is important and key to understanding what worship is.


    I’m already working on a follow-up post that traces Paul’s description of worship in Romans 12-15. It is a very interesting study.


  5. 3-4-2009

    I’ve watched a few episodes of American Idol the last few weeks, especially the Final 36 competition. The three songs that I remember most were “oldies”: one from the 80s and two from the 60s. Two of the songs, “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” (1966) and “Bette Davis Eyes” (1981), were deemed “too old-fashioned.”

    These comments remind me of worship services in churches today. A song from one or two years ago would be judged too old, if people even remember it. This is fallen human nature, ever craving for new things, as when Paul was asked by the Athenians if he had any new teaching to introduce to them (Acts 17:19).

    The appetite for new songs in churches is never satisfied. Why not? The Bible even commands us to “sing a new song to the Lord” in many places. Taken at face value, this would seem to justify the weekly new song introduced by the worship team.

    But what does the Bible really say about “new songs”? Read more here:

    “‘New Song’ and American Idol(atry)”

  6. 7-30-2012

    Worship is spiritual warfare. I’ll let that one sink in.

    Also, until man’s churches stop the “spectator-focused” style of worship they demand of their “flocks”, then Jesus isn’t glorified, but the “worship team” (?) surely gets their reward in full.

  7. 7-30-2012


    Yes, there is so much more to worship than what is usually presented.


  8. 8-22-2012

    How we live is our worship to God. How we meet is our service to one another.

  9. 8-22-2012


    I agree. And how we meet together as service to one another is part of living. This means how we meet together is worship to God if we are obeying him as we meet together.