Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Reverence, Dogs, and True Worship

I've been involved in youth ministry for about a year and a half now, but before that I had all sorts of experience in different forms of church ministry. My resume within church ministry is eclectic and odd to say the least, but it might give you a better idea of the kind of guy I am when it comes to ministry.
  • Puppet Ministry; VBS, missions trips, Sunday School, anything. If there were kids, there were puppets telling bible stories and lip syncing Sunday school songs. As long as no one found out that I was doing puppets, it was cool.
  • Cooking; Sunday morning breakfast, community events, feeding the homeless, etc. Any given weekend, we might pull up in a massive cart and grill up 500+ hamburgers and then disappear in a flash.
  • Camp; the longest and most recent category of ministry that I've been involved in. Within that ministry itself was a myriad of different opportunities from scrubbing toilets to teaching on stage. As far as camp ministry is concerned, I've done it all. Scrubbing toilets, starting camp fires, leading worship, being a counselor, teaching lessons on stage, choreographing Western gunfights, running the zipline, canoe instructor, hike guide, the list goes on for days, but this blog is already a day late, so let's move on.
  • Short Term Missions; There's not a lot more encouraging than seeing followers of Christ passionate and excited to spread the gospel in every nation throughout the world.
  • Worship; Youth group bands, camp fire guitars, unpracticed worship on an outdoor stage in the forest. Worship can be made anywhere.
My experience in the world of worship ministry is limited to say the least. Never before would I have imagined that I would be living in Las Vegas, Nevada, leading worship next to the skilled and bearded king of Seattle, Bradley Linkins.

Bradley is the Associate Pastor here at Summit Ridge Church, and I recommend that if you have not yet Facebook stalked him, do so. He is a man with a heart for deep, intentional relationships and who desires to lead and love in holiness with all that he does. He has a beautiful, gritty singing voice and a love for deep, meaningful lyrics.

He also has infallible side burns.

But before Bradley came to Nevada with his family, we were left without anyone to lead worship. The church staff consisted of Pastor John and myself, and PJ had a sermon to work on.

Worship is an important aspect of Sunday morning ministry, so until Bradley arrived, the congregation had to deal with me. They quickly learned to sing louder than me so they could not hear me, and they were so excited when Bradley finally arrived.

So was I.

As the months went by, I became more and more passionate in leading worship, and now I get the chance to lead with Bradley nearly every week alongside four or five others from the church.

This brings me to my obscure thought of the week inspired by my obscure roommate, Steve.

"Why do we classify worship as singing?"

I was standing in the kitchen washing dishes when he asked me. I stopped and looked at him. 

That was a good question.

Time to consult James Strong. I brought out the weighty tome and dropped it on the counter.

worn...worrisome...worry... Aha! Worship.

The word "worship" is used 110 times in the bible in 104 different verses.
In Hebrew pronounced shaw-khaw
In Greek pronounced pro-skoo-neh-o

The common definition for these two ancient words point to something much different than standing on a stage singing in front of an audience of believers. The common denominator is this picture of humble reverence, kneeling or prostrate before the master. The Greek, προσκυνέω, literally alludes to the same manner a dog would lick his master's hand in submission and love.

That paints a different picture.

So then what are we doing? Are we being unbiblical by not prostrating ourselves on the ground every Sunday morning? Are we treating worship incorrectly?

I think not. At least not for me.

Reverence, humility, and love are states of the heart. You can act humbly, speak in reverence, and perform loving actions, but all three are possible to be performed insincerely. Reverence, humility, and love are all heart statuses. 

Loving actions are an overflow of the love within. Revering action is the precipitation of reverence within. Humbling yourself before another requires inward humility.

Based off of this idea, worship, being an illustration of love, reverence, and humility, is a state of the heart, not necessarily an action.

Usually, in church, the roles of worship are assigned as such:
  • God- Leading the congregation in worship.
  • Musicians- Performing the worship.
  • Congregation-  The audience of the worship.
Humans were created to worship God. We are the product of an outpouring of God's perfect love and glory, made into matter, and given the breath of life from the maker Himself. Our worship is a response to God's greatness and holiness.

When we worship, it is directly to God. We are humble and reverent before our loving, perfect maker. Our worship is directed at God, so that makes God the audience, and us the performers. 

So it could be said that the roles could be reassigned like this:
  • God- The audience of the worship
  • Musicians- Leading the congregation in worship
  • Congregation- Performing the worship.
Worship is a state of the heart, a conscious reverent and humble celebratory attitude towards our maker. 

With this in mind, the moment music becomes worship is the moment it becomes a humble celebration of the greatness of God.

The moment an activity is done with a humble celebration of the incredible perfect attributes of God, it becomes worship.

So in that context, anything can become worship: running, washing dishes, prayer, driving, delivering fruit baskets, cooking fish, anything! Worship is a state of the heart, not an activity.

We were created to worship our great God with every aspect of our lives, in our relationships, in our jobs, in our everyday lives.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 
--Hebrews 12:28

Nate T B