Growing up, I used to think that worship was a time when you sing hand-clapping songs and pray. Then, it evolved to having to attend a 15-20 minute assembly to sit and listen to somebody to tell me how to be like Jesus because He first loves me. A few years later, it became a mandatory obligation to attend in order for me to avoid receiving a twenty-five dollar fine for not attending and to obtain a late/overnight leave from campus during undergrad. Then, I thought about worship as Christian duty to attend church in my Sabbath/Sunday best so that I could sing with more people and instruments.
But I was wrong.
I am realizing that worship is not a mere service with fellow Christians, nor is it a weekly routine. Neither is it a 5-10 minute song service.Worship is much deeper than that.
Worship is defined as, “The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” The word worship comes from an Old English word, weorthscipe which is the combination of worthiness, respect, from weorth worthy, worth + -scipe -ship. Thus, worship is the acknowledgment of worth, a high value or merit.
From reading the story behind Matt Redman’s song, The Heart of Worship, I decided to take time reflecting on what it means to go back to “The heart of worship.” Here is the story behind the song:
The song dates back to the late 1990s, born from a period of apathy within Matt’s home church, Soul Survivor, in Watford, England. Despite the country’s overall contribution to the current worship revival, Redman’s congregation was struggling to find meaning in its musical outpouring at the time.
“There was a dynamic missing, so the pastor did a pretty brave thing,” he recalls. “He decided to get rid of the sound system and band for a season, and we gathered together with just our voices. His point was that we’d lost our way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.”
Reminding his church family to be producers in worship, not just consumers, the pastor, Mike Pilavachi, asked, “When you come through the doors on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God?”
This song has a powerful message that many churches have used in their services. I remember listening to this song but didn’t understand what the song means until something similar happened at my church last year. We were dealing with a season where we didn’t have musicians accompanying us and there were Sabbaths when we would have to lead out in praise and worship acapella. That’s when I thought about the story. Many of us would rely on our worship leaders to sing certain songs to get them in the mindset of worship. There was a time when I had to lead out in worship acapella and I noticed that the congregation was engaged in the worship service. The church was filled up with people giving acknowledgment to a Great God.
For some of us, we dictate our worship experience. I have heard of many church members who would attend a church service because of a well-known preacher is speaking there or would go for their preference of music. Yes, I know, we all have every right to have a preference but what is our motive behind our preferences in relation to worship?
Sometimes, I feel like we tend to fall victim to losing the primary focus of the meaning of worship. We tend to acknowledge the singer and the preacher more than we acknowledge our encounter with God.
My prayer is that we all would return back to the Heart of Worship and that our personal worship experiences would draw us to a deeper relationship with God, the one who is worthy of our worship.
Forever Naturally Adorned,