Defining Worship Part 2

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Reposted from The Archives at Worship Matters: A great blog with “Resources for Leading Worship from Bob Kauflin”

One of the pieces of advice my friends gave me before I started a blog was “Whatever you do, don’t make it too long. People don’t like scrolling down.” I’m sure that some of my entries will be VERY short, but this probably won’t be one of them. Yesterday I shared some definitions of worship that I’ve found helpful, starting with the general and moving to the more specific. Here are some more that I think do a great job of incorporating what’s important in biblical worship.

First, from Ralph Martin:

Christian worship, then, is the happy blend of offering to God our Creator and Redeemer through Jesus Christ both what we owe to Him and what we would desire to give Him. (Ralph Martin, Worship in the Early Church, pg. 17)

This is the first definition I’ve mentioned that draws attention to the fact that our worship is offered through Jesus Christ, that God deserves worship as our creator, and that our worship is both a duty and a glad choice. In a book that is now out of print (as many good books are), Robert Rayburn wrote:

Worship is the activity of the new life of a believer in which, recognizing the fullness of the Godhead as it is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ and His mighty redemptive acts, he seeks by the power of the Holy Spirit to render to the living God the glory, honor, and submission which are His due. (Robert Rayburn, O Come Let Us Worship, pg. 20)

This is a wonderfully nuanced definition that includes the concepts that worship is an activity of our new nature, cross-centered, and enabled by the power of God’s Spirit. In other words, biblical worship is trinitarian. This one, by David Nelson, is a little longer, but it includes many of the ideas already mentioned in previous definitions, and is still pretty compact.

Worship is the human response to the self-revelation of the triune God, which involves: (1) divine initiation in which God graciously reveals himself, his purposes, and will; (2) a spiritual and personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ enabled by the ministry of the Holy Spirit; and (3) a response by the worshiper of joyful adoration, reverence, humility, submission and obedience. (David Nelson, Authentic Worship, Herbert W. Bateman, ed., p. 149)

Still a little long, though. But not as long as D.A. Carson’s on page 26 of Worship by the Book. But I’ll save that for another post. Finding all these great definitions of worship motivated me to come up with two of my own. Here they are:

Christian worship is the response of God’s redeemed people to His self-revelation that exalts God’s glory in Christ in our minds, affections, and wills, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And because I like alliteration at times:

Biblical worship is God’s covenant people recognizing, reveling in, and responding rightly to the glory of God in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Defining Worship: Part 1 | Part 2Part 3 | Part 4



is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church, where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community and at HighestPraise.com.

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