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Worship is so much more than music

Jared Wilson | June 7th 2018

I think you could make a pretty good case that evangelicals don’t really know what worship is—or, at least, they don’t really know what worship fully is.

Scroll through your social media feeds on a typical Sunday morning and you will see lots of talk among your churchgoing friends about worship—but I’d be willing to bet that most of that talk is focused entirely on music.

But worship is more than a genre of music or one section of a worship service. Even to speak of worship largely in terms of a worship service is not to do the subject justice. We tend to talk in compartmentalized ways about something that by its very nature cannot be compartmentalized; because, according to the Bible, worship is every human being’s way of life. We are never not worshiping. We just can’t help it.

At each and every moment of our lives, we are living in a way that “gives worth” to something. For many people, their ideas of worth are centered on themselves, or their family or their job. In one way or another we are worshiping ourselves. But for those who have discovered the grace of God in Jesus Christ, a massive change has taken place. By the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are enabled to start worshiping the one true God instead of the many false gods we fill our lives with.

What is true for us as individuals is true for us as a gathered community of God’s people. We discover in the Bible that a church that is centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ will be shaped by the gospel of Jesus Christ. And a church shaped by the gospel of Jesus Christ will see that its true “service of worship” is conducted both inside the formal gathering of believers and outside it as well.

Worship is every human being’s way of life. We are never not worshiping.

We worship when we sing, yes, but we also worship when we preach and receive preaching, when we pray, when we share the gospel, and when we love our neighbors in a million different ways throughout the week. The Gospel Coalition has included this statement in their Theological Vision for Ministry, entitled “Empowered corporate worship”:

The gospel changes our relationship with God from one of hostility or slavish compliance to one of intimacy and joy. The core dynamic of gospel-centered ministry is therefore worship and fervent prayer.

In corporate worship God’s people receive a special life-transforming sight of the worth and beauty of God, and then give back to God suitable expressions of his worth. At the heart of corporate worship is the ministry of the Word.

In each session of Gospel Shaped Worship—part of the Gospel Shaped Church curriculum, our aim is to refresh our sense of God’s love for us in Christ, so that every aspect of our community life would be shaped by the gospel and lead us to glorify the God who supplies his grace so abundantly in Jesus.

And as you work through this program as a church together, my hope is that you will capture a vision of worship that goes way beyond a song or a service on Sunday morning. I pray that you will discover an enlarged and empowered vision for your life as a worshiper, as we look again and again into Christ’s glory in the gospel found in his word.

Jared Wilson is the author and presenter of Gospel Shaped Worship.

Jared Wilson

Jared C. Wilson is assistant professor of pastoral ministry at Spurgeon College, author in residence of Midwestern Seminary, general editor of For the Church, and director of the Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. His books include Your Jesus Is Too Safe, Gospel Wakefulness, The Imperfect Disciple, and Supernatural Power for Everyday People. He lives outside Kansas City with his wife, Becky, and their two daughters.

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