I fear we have been deceived, or at best mis-led. The modern "wanna-be" mega-church movement, has established itself as a "worship experience" production company, focused on providing a "unique" and "powerful" encounter with God. One church in my town has a banner out front of the building that literally reads, "You have to experience it to believe it!"
Consider the church's current "worship-centric" mode of operation - we have Worship Leaders, Worship Teams, Worship Services, Worship Centers, Worship Conferences, and are told that the whole reason we gather on Sunday is to "Worship".
It seems that we have equated singing Matt Redman's chart-topping hit "Heart of Worship", to actual worship. When in fact, the song itself decries what we have turned worship into, merely a song... Consider the powerful themes within the song:
- Sacrifice - Bringing something that is of worth, that will bless the heart of God.
- Selflessness - It's all about you Jesus.
- Submission - All I have is yours.
Worship is not about singing such things. Worship is about living such things, whether we sing about it or not.
We conveniently just invite people to come and sing, when Jesus invited people to come and die.
Think about it. When Jesus called his followers, he admonished them, "If any of you desire to be my disciple, you must take up your cross daily and follow me." Sound familiar? Sacrifice, Selflessness, Submission.
Did you know that the Greek words for "worship" in the New Testament are never used to refer to singing? NOT ONCE! In fact, "worship" is never even used to describe a "church service" or "Christian gathering". NOT ONCE!!
So when and how are these words used?
There are three Greek words in the NT that are translated into "worship":
Latreia, which means "sacrifice".
Leitourgia , meaning "act of service or selflessness"
Proskyneo , or "submission".
All are used in the context of personal obedience to Christ and how a community of believers engage each other and the world.
In other words, "worship" can be understood as both "Discipleship" & "Mission".
Paul would define true "acts of worship" as the following (taken from Romans 12):
- To not conform to the norms of society (v. 2)
- To humbly express spiritual gifts in practical ways (v. 3-8)
- To love others (v. 9-10)
- To be spiritually zealous, hopeful, patient, and prayerful (v. 11-12)
- To be hospitable and generous (v. 13)
- To live in harmony, with munificence and charity toward unbelievers (v. 14-21)
When Jesus sent his disciples out on their first "mission trip", he gave them very interesting instructions... (Luke 9:3) He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt."
We miss it in our culture, but Jesus' disciples would have made a startling connection. The items mentioned would be the same that every Jewish man would know are to be left at the gate of the Temple, before you "enter to worship". Profoundly, Jesus is equating being a disciple sent into the world on mission as the same as entering the Temple to worship .
Submission... in all of life.
This is the heart of worship.
by Clarke T. Cayton
Michael Frost, Exiles, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006 (126)
- See more on 'greek terms for worship' at: http://www.xenos.org/essays/worship.htm#sthash.Yaf7oDpB.dpuf