“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth” John 4:23-24
Davis Duggins wrote an article entitled, The Worship Gap – Is Something Missing in our Response to God? That’s a good question. Is something missing in our worship? Randy Vader certainly thinks there is. Vader, a song writer and music publisher who’s worked alongside Christian artists such as Bill and Gloria Gaither, says, “So much of what we do in church really is not worship … There’s a lot of teaching that goes on, there’s nurturing – so many things. That’s not to say it’s bad … but it’s not worship.”
Vader has a point. A church can have one of the finest orchestras in town, or one of the greatest choirs, and be clueless about worship. You can put some of the best preachers in the pulpit, have a technically outstanding praise band, and still not know how to worship the Lord.
Ronald Allen, a seminary professor and columnist for Worship Leader Magazine says, “There are a lot of times, frankly, when I’ve sat through a church service and haven’t really been worshipping. I’ve been critical or apathetic or just there.” You may relate to Allen’s sentiments. You’ve experienced mindless or boring services. You’ve gone through the motions. You’ve desperately wanted to worship the Lord, yet it didn’t happen. Which is why it’s time for the “missing jewel” (A. W. Tozer) of worship to be restored.
Restoration should always be rooted in God’s Word. The Bible describes worship as the reading of Scripture (cf. Colossians 4:16), teaching and preaching (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:26; 2 Timothy 4:2), singing (cf. Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), praying (cf. 1 Timothy 2:8), collecting money for the Lord’s work (cf. Philippians 4:18), everyday words and deeds (cf. Colossians 3:17), taking communion (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34), and confessing Christ’s name (cf. Hebrews 13:15).
A study of the Hebrew and Greek words for worship is also helpful. The Hebrew word for worship is shachah, which means to “bow down” or to “prostrate oneself.” Another common Hebrew word is abad, which means “to serve.” In the Greek the most common word for worship is proskuneo, which literally means “to kiss (kuneo) toward (pros).” It’s the same word that’s used to describe the kissing of the hem or the feet of a superior. Another common Greek word for worship is latreuo, which means “to serve.” Robert Webber says that if we put these Hebrew and Greek terms together we could say that worship is “an inner and outer homage to God as a token of awe and surrender.”
Worship is therefore far more than Christians just singing or speaking about God’s worth. It’s also something more than an inner heartfelt response of thanksgiving. True worship isn’t lip service – it’s life service. It’s a total response to divine truth. It’s an all-encompassing attitude of 100 percent commitment. It’s a life that’s both inwardly and outwardly totally given over to serving God – a life of consecration and surrender. In the words of Romans 6:13, it’s offering “the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.”
That’s a far cry from what we see in today’s church. As Paul Yerden, a music minister in the Midwest, says, “Church has become a spectator sport … We watch football games, we watch baseball games, we watch concerts, and we watch religion on TV. So we come to church, and we want to watch it happen there.” Yerden exposes an insidious problem. It’s common practice for churchgoers to shop around for pleasing worship experiences. If the “show” is good in one place they’ll go there but if a better “show” starts up down the street they may go there. Instead of thinking of worship as something we give we’ve come to think of it as something we can get. The focus has become entertainment instead of involvement – about what we can see in worship instead of being about what we can make of worship.
Which is why we need to remind ourselves that worship involves the whole of the believer’s body, mind and spirit. Nothing should be held back. Believers must engage in worship wholeheartedly. We must make it “a sacrifice of praise” Hebrews 13:15. For true worship is when you “quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, feed the mind with the truth of God, purge the imagination by the beauty of God, open the heart to the love of God, and devote the will to the purpose of God” William Temple.
It starts with you. You need to fill the worship gap (cf. Ezekiel 22:30). You need to do your part, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to restore whatever’s missing in your response to God.