Some time ago I began memorizing Psalm 34:1-3.  For the life of me I can’t remember why I started memorizing it.  At the beginning I remember thinking that, on the surface, this verse was lacking in practical application (can I say that?).  However, as this verse has sunk in the meaning of it has been very valuable to me, especially as a worship leader.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together (Psalm 34:1-3, ESV).

  1. The psalmist starts off with a singular expression of praise: “I” will bless the Lord & “my” mouth.
  2. It then includes the “humble” who will join him in their rejoicing.
  3. These three verses culminate with the psalmist exhorting other to join in magnifying and exalting the Lord’s name together.

Maybe I’m reading more into it that I should but I see the progression from individual to larger group and it seems to reflect my experience leading praise and adoration as well.  The leaders come in prepared – or at least they should.  A small number of others will initially join, followed by an invitation for others to join in as well.

I pray that we would make the most of every opportunity to “magnify the Lord” and “exalt His name together.”


Is there a simple solution to our worship dilemma?

The truth is, probably not. There is not going to be an easy answer. The exciting part about that, however, is that the process will continue to shape and mold us!

In my previous posts, Part 1 and Part 2, I raised a lot of questions and thoughts as to what worship is all about. Despite what this following clip might advocate it is not about us…

Some time ago I got fed up with this idea of “doing” worship. Because of this frustration, and maybe because I didn’t know what else to do, I made a distinct change in what I called our Sunday morning music.

I began calling it “Praise & Adoration.” It made sense to me, and it still does. Our Sunday morning music is only part of worship. What we are ultimately doing is offering up our praise and adoration in song.

Our praise is celebratory in style and our adoration is reflective.

There is probably a flaw in it somewhere, but to my thinking, it goes beyond style and still maintains the heart of what is happening. God is worthy of our highest praise and adoration. It is worship, but it is not all of what worship is.

Some people around me have adopted it and some haven’t. I’ve gotten many weird looks. I can say that I’m original! No one has adopted it yet, and they probably never will.

Is my thinking flawed? I’m open to someone setting me straight. Regardless of whether my wording does the ultimate justice, the angels have it right!

They cry out…

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!
(Revelation 4:8)”

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

No, that isn’t a typo. Repeat it for yourself and see!

Better yet, live like it’s true.

In my previous post I tried to lay out what worship “should be.” If I am correct we have really gotten off track somewhere.

I believe that worship is more than our church gatherings. It is all of life. Read this quote by Archbishop William Temple.

Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, nourishment of mind by His truth, purifying of imagination by His beauty, opening of the heart to His love, and submission of will to His purpose. And all this gathered up in adoration is the greatest of human expressions of which we are capable.

This is a tremendous quote that certainly gives definition to more than just our church gatherings. To be sure, it includes our church gatherings, but it is not limited to them. Maybe I’m just playing word games here, but how can we adequately describe all the facets reflected in worship?

We call our church gatherings “worship services” or “services of worship.”

We call our singing time “worship.”

We have “worship ministries” and a “Worship Ministries Pastor.”

We call what we should be doing in all of life “worship.”

And we wonder why we are confused???

There are some good questions that should come out of this though…

First of all, we should ask how the Bible defines worship. Do you know? How does worship fit into what we call church? For that matter, what is the purpose of our church gatherings?

Secondly, if we believe that the church gathering is about worship, we need to be asking how each element of the church gathering point us towards “worship?” For example, what about the announcements? Where do they fit? Prelude music? Stand up and greet your neighbor time? Drama? Lighting? Decor? Offering? Communion? Baptism? Preaching? And, gasp, our music? How do we answer these questions in light of our consumer-driven society?

These are tough questions that we must continue to grapple with! What answers, solutions, or compromises have you come up with?

In my final (?) post on worship I will explain one simple thing that I’ve done. It is very simple, but I believe it has had a profound effect on how we look at “worship.”

“We have seen the enemy and he is us…”

This quote, belonging to the legendary cartoon character Pogo and his owner Walt Kelly, applies equally well to what we have commonly termed “worship wars.” The battles continue to rage on but the boom is now over. People have gotten it out of their system and artists are no longer rushing out to remake the greatest hits or hymns. The fad has passed on and worship remains.

What can we learn from this?

In the midst of retooling every popular worship song of the last twenty years many new gems have emerged. For that we should be thankful. In addition, we have also discovered many new hymn writers in the church today. I believe that they will continue to add to the richness of our historical traditions and infuse beautiful colors into the tapestry of music.

Even with everything we have been through there is still so much left to learn (and unlearn). For example, I still get irritated when I hear comments like the following:

“Our worship is boring.”

“I can’t worship to hymns.”

“We need more worship.”

While I understand the idea behind the statements I’m still concerned that they show such a narrow understanding of worship. I believe that we have muddied the biblical definition of worship by solely linking it to music and church gatherings.

Read and think on the following verses.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
(Romans 12:1)

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

(1 Corinthians 3:16)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17)

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
(Matthew 22:37)

If my reasoning is correct our lives are to be “worship” to God. Our bodies are God’s temple and thus our lives should be a living sacrifice where we die to our own desires as we seek to serve God.

Is this how we look at worship?

Is this how we live our lives?

What about our church gatherings?

What about our music preferences?

In the next post I would like to consider both the positive and negative implications of “worship” as it is commonly understood and suggest a possible alteration.