Don Miller wrote a post yesterday about his experience in corporate worship that has left me thinking. In the post (read it here) he writes that “I don’t worship God by singing.” He also says that he is nearly alone in this confession. I know that he is not alone because I’ve encountered many people that really just aren’t into singing (I usually don’t sing much outside of my own faith community). Miller also goes onto to say that corporate worship is geared towards auditory(listening) learners (sermons are often central) and not visual(seeing) or kinesthetic(doing) learners. Miller identifies with being a kinesthetic learning- and finds intimacy with God with his “hand to the plow.”
I had several thoughts about the post and would love to hear your feedback about his post or my thoughts. I’m not trying to be disagreeable but using his article as a launching point to talk about corporate worship.
1. Worship is not primarily about learning. Does learning take place? Sure it does. But our primary focus in worship is to give God our praise. To give God the praise and adoration God deserves for being, well, God.
2. Worship should not be reduced to singing and listening. Let’s be honest that in many American churches- these are the two main ingredients on Sunday morning. The worship of God is more than just singing and listening to a sermon (which is more than a lecture as Miller suggest), a service of worship is filled with liturgy. Worship, whether a church is traditional, contemporary, post-modern, or (insert favorite worship label here) is filled with liturgy. The definition I have always been taught of liturgy is that it is the “work of the people.” That is a kinesthetic definition. It is not sitting and listening- worship is doing something. Worship is when the body of Christ comes together to pray, to give God praise (sung and non-musical), to give, to encourage, to admonish, to teach, to confess, to build-up, and to be sent-out.
3. Corporate worship is not as much about “me” as it is about “we.” I have a congregant who doesn’t particularly care for our style of worship- but says that they love the church because of the community that they are part of. The church should be a community of people who live a life of worship and mission together. Each person has an important role to play, and when they don’t the community suffers. Community also provides us with a safe place to engage and develop our theology of God. Community encourages us to go deeper in our understanding of God and God’s love- and it also can bring us back when we’ve gone far in our thinking and are outside of the guide of scripture.
4. Corporate worship is a great place to celebrate what God is doing through the “hand on the plow” work. We are to put our faith in action- and gathering for worship is a time when we should celebrate the work that God is doing in and through us. In fact, this heighten’s our worship of God because it is a regular reminder that God is working in our midst. This creates a holistic approach to worship- we worship God in our personal disciplines, in the world by the way we live our lives, and as the gathered body of Christ.
Miller writes that Sunday worship is geared towards auditory learners. How does your church engage the senses in worship? How does your service allow worship to be the “work of the people” and not just the worship band and preacher?