Directed Worship

As pastors, what do we teach our churches about worship? Do we approach worship as an event or a lifestyle? As singing or breathing? As being or attending?

In John 4 Jesus tells the woman at the well, “We know what we worship.” He is putting his finger on the fact that worship of God is a response to revelation of God.  How much emphasis do we put on the idea that we are able to worship God because he has revealed himself to us (primarily through his Word)? For years I referred to our singing as “the worship”. I know all the readers here at Cross Connection understand that our music is an opportunity to worship according to a certain form (singing). But how much do our churches catch that? Is worship event based or life based? No doubt there is something special about worshipping God in the assembling of ourselves, but the fundamental fact is, we never actually stop worshipping.

We are incessant worshippers. Jesus doesn’t deny that the woman at the well worshipped. He simply said that she didn’t know the object of her worship. This is why idolatry is such a strong theme in Scripture. Our hearts fixate on objects to worship. In fact, Harold Best, in his book Unceasing Worship, says that when we sin, we don’t actually stop worshipping. Our worship has simply changed direction. This reality is touched on by the woman who asked Jesus about the locality of worship (this mountain or Jerusalem). Jesus moves the discussion from one of locality to one of centrality (spirit and truth).

As the gospel is revealed to me over and over through reading the Scriptures, preaching, good books, the church community etc., my heart is thrilled by the revealed Christ which leads to Godward worship. So too, for our churches. If our churches think that worship is more the issue of on or off instead of direction, then we will be content worshipping the wrong thing on Monday morning or Friday evening. Connecting worship of God to revelation of God helps people see Jesus as all satisfying. This means at work Monday morning they can joyfully and diligently, work fully satisfied in the acceptance and work of Christ versus the acceptance and satisfaction from the job in an of itself. The office then becomes a sanctuary of worship. The mother with small children can joyfully serve her needy little ones recognizing that all her needs are met in Jesus and her service to her kids becomes an outpouring of worship to God.

4 replies
  1. Simon Lawrenson
    Simon Lawrenson says:

    Great post Matt and some really interesting thoughts about the object of our worship.

    A few years ago I was so convinced that true Biblical worship, worshipping in Spirit and in Truth, is a direct response the revelation of God through Jesus in His Word that that I made the conscious decision to move our corporate singing to come after our sermon. I felt strongly that, for us at least, this shouldn’t be something we just proclaim as true but we should act as true.

    • Matt Kottman
      Matt Kottman says:

      That’s great! Sometimes our systems or structures can help foster a misunderstanding, and changes like that can help underscore a more accurate expression to the reason we do what we do. We did the same thing a couple years ago. We sing a couple songs at the front but most of our singing is after the teaching.

    • Matt Kottman
      Matt Kottman says:

      John, yeah it’s really helpful in understanding our nature as worshipers and thus why we sin.

      Harold Best unpacks this idea really well in his book Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply