This was a question I was asked several years ago, just before being asked to head up the worship at my previous church. After much thought, I came up with a definition which, at the time, surprised the church leader. I am a musician, and music plays a vital role in our worship (especially corporate worship) but my definition has no mention of music at all. Worship is so much wider than music alone.
I would define worship as ‘The unselfish, conscious act of giving adoration to God’.
‘unselfish’ – it is not about us, or how we feel. It is not about somehow getting recognition for what we are doing. It is all about Jesus, and ensuring that whatever our act of worship is, it detracts from us and focussing on Him. If our personal worship becomes a distraction to others, we have to watch that we are not acting selfishly and therefore preventing someone else from worshipping.
‘conscious’ – worship (certainly corporately) is a conscious, or deliberate, act. It is difficult to worship ‘by mistake’ during our Sunday services.
‘act’ – worship is something that requires us to do something. Whether that’s singing, giving thanks to God, dancing, drawing or any other number of activities that could be defined as worship – all are actions. I don’t know how we could worship by doing nothing.
‘giving’ – worship is not about asking or getting, it’s about giving. Too often we can leave a service and say something like ‘the worship didn’t do much for me today’. We have missed the point of what worship is.
‘adoration’ – worship is about expressing our love, gratitude, devotion, respect to God.
‘to God’ – our worship must always be God centred. It is not about us. We can strive to excel in what we do to in the worship team, but this should be in order to give God the glory – not to gain attention or accolade from others.
It strikes me as interesting that the last mention of worship in the Bible is also about keeping the focus on God and not on anything/anyone else – Revelation 22:8-9 – where John gets ‘told off’ for worshipping the angel and told to worship God.
Below is a link to a great video called ‘The Gift Of Worship’, which I think summerises it up pretty well – it’s quite a challenging watch…
As ever – I’m interested in your thoughts and comments on this!