TWC CLASSIC: Worship is NOT about Singing


In I AM NOT THE WORSHIP LEADER I explained that I am unable to actually lead anyone into the presence of God, for that is Christ’s job – it was accomplished by his work on the cross on our behalf, and is applied in the present by the Father’s call, and the Spirit’s work in our hearts. However, there is a sense in which I do fulfill an important roll in the Body of Christ as a “Worship Leader”, but without a Biblical understanding of what worship is, we’ll never fully fulfill that roll.

What makes you feel valued? Gifts? A phone call? Has anyone ever sung – or better yet, written – a song for you? Speaking to the fellows – Guys, if you know that you aren’t the most attractive pup in the litter and you want to get married one day, buy an instrument NOW, and START WRITING! Being sung to makes a lady feel good – a very effective dating tool!

However, writing your lady a song will not carry a relationship. Let’s say that someone wrote you a song, but then hit on your best friend? It doesn’t matter how memorable the hook, or how sweet the lyric – you’d despise that song. There is more to feeling loved – to being praised – than simply being sung about, or to. That goes not only for girls, but also for God. God made you a worshiper, and as much as He may be blessed by your songs, they don’t mean a thing if the rest of you doesn’t joyfully come with them.

The English word “worship” is a combination of the words “worth” and “ship”, which works much like “Lordship”; it means to proclaim or display the great value of someone or something. However, the word we translate most often as “Worship” from the Bible is a word that literally means “to kiss the feet of…”. There is a far less-than-subtle difference between me speaking highly of someone, as our weaker English word suggests, and bowing to the ground to kiss their feet when they enter the room. The first doesn’t cost me much, really. The second: I am humbly throwing my whole self out before another – displaying that they are my everything, and presenting myself to them for their use and service. Biblical worship is a BIG DEAL.

The whole drama that is the Bible is a story about worship: as the Right Reverend Bob Dylan wisely preached it, “Yer gonna serve somebody!” Exodus 20:3 states, “You shall have no other gods before Me”, yet from the Fall on we have been tempted to doubt God’s Word, God’s goodness, and believe the lie that we might “…be like God.” As a result there are now two teams: you now find yourself either a “Slave to Sin”, who is a cruel master indeed, or a “Slave of Christ”. There are no other parts to play in God’s story. “Yer gonna serve somebody.

According to Scripture, when we “worship” God, we have a lot of options: bowing down, acts of service, showing respect, kneeling, reverence, kissing the feet of God, working for God, raising our hands towards God, and so forth. We may find it immediately strange that there are so very many Biblical words that we translate as some form of “Praise” or “Worship”, yet only 3 of them have anything specifically to do with singing/music, especially given our great emphasis on musical worship in the church. All of the words we translate as “praise” or “worship”, including those about singing, speak of some physical action which displays or acts out a heart bent towards glorifying God, and displaying God’s glory. This is what Kingdom living was intended to be, and this is true worship: choosing to actively glorify God with your life.

Worship is, ultimately, about a whole life – heart, mind, soul, and strength – given over to God, for his use, and joyful service: a life that expresses a high opinion of, and as a result, glorifies God.

To elevate corporate singing as the heart of Christian worship is like saying that you’re a good husband because you give her roses now and again. Sure, that’s a good practice, but it’s just icing on the cake, and if the cake is actually mud-pie, it’s not going to taste so good. Hosea 6:6 says, “…I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” In modern terms, God wants your heart over ceremony. God hates mud-pies.

As “worship pastors” we need to learn to pastor our people to do more than just sing – to invite them into something deeper than a Sunday morning service. We need to facilitate that next step, where worship is first an act of relationship, and in response a step towards discipleship – becoming like Jesus – rather than letting our people, week after week, bring roses to their Jesus, when they all know good and well that they’re having multiple affairs with other gods on the side.
Worship, my friends, is not about singing.

Stay tuned for part 3, where I will explain that, as long as you’ve got part 1 & 2 down, worship is really about singing after all.

Shannon Lewis is “The Worship Community Guy“. Passionate about helping others respond to God, & training people who are passionate about the same, Shannon also blogs at SaintLewisMusic, where you can grab his free eBook, UNSEASONED: How to see Godly Growth in an Inexperienced Worship Team.