Part VI – Sorting Out “Worship”

tn_IMG_0300 In my meeting with Pastor-In-Charge and Pastor overseeing our contemporary service, I proposed that “worship” be understood in three ways, namely:

  1. “Worship” as a biblical concept
  2. The “Worship Service” (as a subset of Christian gatherings)
  3. “Worship Music”

I’ll go through how we broke it down.

“Worship” as a Biblical Concept

We’ve touched briefly on this in the first post. What is clear is that that “Worship” underwent a significant change from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

The OLD TESTAMENT – mostly referred to “Worship” as the physical representation of “service” (Hebrew: abad) of priests in the temple, and “submission” (Hebrew: shachah) by kissing the hand of, or bowing down (on the ground) to a more superior person.

In the NEW TESTAMENT – Paul used the Greek equivalent of “service” (Greek: latreia) in Romans 12:1-2 to clearly extend the concept of “service” beyond acts of service in the temple to include the person himself, his life.

Also, Jesus redefined “submission” (Greek: proskuneo), or more accurately, “acknowledging of God as worthy of honour by virtue of being superior”, in John 4 when talking to the woman at the well. “Worship”, Jesus says, will be “in spirit and in truth”.

So “worship”, or in this case, " “giving God glory”, is not defined by location, but rather by our spirits (Greek: pneuma), or as a result of the Holy Spirit (pneuma) residing in us.

So we can say that “Worship” has now been extended to our lives, not just acts of worship, but essentially who we are, 24/7.

The “Worship Service”

There is no detailed prescription for the “Worship Service” in the New Testament. However, there are detailed descriptions of what early Christians did when they met. In other words, there are descriptions of NT “church life”.

ACTS 2:42 – Word, Prayer, Fellowship, Sacrament
EPH 5:19, COL 3:16 – Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs
1 COR 12-14: Exercising of Spiritual Gifts

While I don’t think that we are commanded by Paul to conduct these in any particular order, what he does require though, is that there must be “order” (1 Cor 14:33)

So, what I’ve found is that most church service liturgy (Greek: leitourgia), or public worship, is based on Old Testament examples.

In fact, the most commonly alluded to bible passage for designing the “Worship Service” format is actually Isaiah 6. The Church Membership Manual of the Methodist Church in Singapore describes it this way:

“Isaiah 6:1-8 describes a typical worship experience. In it, one can find five elements of worship which are used by churches in their worship services – Preparation, Praise, Prayer, Proclamation, and Promise.” (edit: what’s a “worship experience” anyway??)

It also does state that there “are no enshrined forms of worship in the Methodist Church”. That’s pretty encouraging. Meanwhile, we’re left to wonder why our church services are the way they are.

I think it’s fair to say that large church services (>100 people) cannot foster close fellowship (Acts 2:42), and that it is difficult to maintain order (1 Cor 14:33) in practicing the spiritual gifts if there are >100 people.

This leads to very important conclusion – that the “Worship Service” is not “Church” – it must be conducted in tandem with other church ministries such as a Small Groups etc.

Added that to the fact that there is no prescribed form for a service in the New Testament leads us to ask questions.

What is the purpose of the “Worship Service”? 
Should it include all the New Testament church activities? 
Should we continue to base it on Old Testament frameworks?

Leave a Comment!


~ by jonhyz on February 19, 2009.

2 Responses to “Part VI – Sorting Out “Worship””

  1. […] Part I – Definition of Worship in the OT & NT Part II – Definition of Worship in the Church Part III – Definitions by Experts on Worship Part IV – Why it’s our fault Worship is all messed up Part V – Differences between Individual and Corporate Worship Part VI – Defining Worship & the Worship Service (Meeting with Pastors) […]

  2. […] Part VI – Defining Worship & the Worship Service […]

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