Monday, October 09, 2006

Where Worship Begins

People often think that the success of a worship service depends on the "excellence" of the preaching or music. A.W. Tozer writes that if worship doesn’t happen in your heart then it won’t happen in the church you attend either.
If you do not know the presence of God in your office, your factory, your home, then God is not in the church when you attend. I have come to believe that when we are worshipping, if the love of God is in us and the Spirit of God is breathing praise within us, all the musical instruments in heaven are suddenly playing in full support… it is my experience that our total lives, our entire attitude as persons, must be toward the worship of God.
A.W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship? P. 123

7 comments:

Jim C said...

Ahh yes... Tozer!!

I really enjoy a lot of what Tozer says simply because it shows us that many of the struggles facing the church today are "nothing new".

I'll be honest and confess that I've never read any of his books from cover to cover, but my wife is on her second book of his and is constantly saying "Hey.. listen to this... this is just what you were saying earlier today!"

I totally agree (and have stated on your blog before, Scott) that worship etc is not something we do on Sunday mornings. Its something we strive to do with every detail of our lives.

We don't need to "play church" on Sunday mornings... instead we need to look at the other 6 days of the week and see what our actions and reactions look like then.

I won't even pretend to say that I'm good at being worshipful in all that I do... I'm not. I do know that it is where I long to be though... worshipful in all I do and experience.

Vitamin Z said...

I am sensing that you are trying to push my buttons here Scoot. I still love you.

Excellence with a little dose of contextualization is my moto baby! I'll take that one to the bank. `

scooterpastor said...

Jim- It is so true that weekend community worship should flow from a life that is surrendered in worship to God every moment of the week. It is just so funny how we North-Americans get so formulaic about what makes worship good.

Zach- You know I agree with you that excellence and contexualization (formerly known as relevance) are both important. It is just that these do not worship make.

First Theology said...

I think there are two nuances/usages of worship that we often play against each other inappropriately.

1. Worship - focusing on and responding to God = worship as an act. We do that in a special and specific way corporately each week in the Christian assembly (and of course at other times too).

2. Worship - centering your life around something = worship as a lifestyle. We do that 24-7 as we choose to order our priorities/thoughts/energies/resources... on God (hopefully).

False (unGodly) worship could be conceived as making any good and finite thing an ultimate thing - whether it's thru intentional/conscious act (first nuance) or lifestyle (second nuance).

The first nuance is clearly present in all the commands to consciously, intentionally, set aside other things to worship God in purposeful action (Ex. 20:5; Matt. 4:10).

The second nuance is clearly present in all the commands to center your entire life around God (Rom. 12:1) [specifically God's resurrected Son as the perfect picture & paradigm of a person in constant communion and worship with the Father].

The odd thing is to play one nuance (action) vs. the other nuance (lifestyle) as though one were "worship" and one were not. Of course God demands we center our lives around him which includes intentional time of worshipful actions. Of course there is inherent hypocrisy in worshiping intentionally at moments and then centering our lives around other things (and we all do this to some extent). Just as strange as it is to worship with intent & fervor at moments w/o connecting that to the rest of our lives, it seems equally strange to me to center a life around God and then never take intentional times to worship thru conscious and directed actions toward Him.

The first definition is good to remind us that we must set aside times for worshiping God intentionally and exclusively (I'd say thru Word and sacrament). The second definition is good to remind us that even those who don't worship via intentional actions are still in fact worshiping (in the sense of centering their lives around something) and sometimes those who do worship with intentional actions and fervor are betraying those actions by the rest of their lives.

I better stop or I'll get too convicted myself... If we lose either one, we will have a reduced picture of worship as God intends for us as finite and fallen people this side of resurrection.

scooterpastor said...

Those are good distinctives Josh. According to your classification....

"Action" worship cannot exist properly without "lifestyle" worship and arguably "lifestyle" worship can't healthily exist without "action" worship.

I think my main bent is that we tend to focus on some kind of formulaic, methodological means of "action" that will somehow result in larger churches, more emotional impact, etc... All along many people (maybe even a majority of people) are trying to find from "action" worship what will only come from "lifestyle" worship.

Jim C said...

Scott,

Perhaps its safe to say that purposeful excellence and such in worship ("action worship" as you put it) in a church should be the result of the combining of our personal worship outside the church, rather than the other way around.

IE - our church worship is thre result of our worship, not the formula for larger churches etc (though to some extent, this does happen).

emily said...

good word! miss ya scoot!