Worship…what is it?
Worship, in the Christian traditions, has taken on many forms and expressions…but what is it? Bob Roglein, in his book, “Experiential Worship”, makes an excellent point, “Ultimately it doesn’t matter what we are saying or doing in worship if we don’t know what it means” (Rognlien, 2005, p. 88). This is true, when we consider that ‘who we worship’ is foundational to ‘how we worship’.
The editor of “Worship Leader Magazine”, Chuck Fromm applies the working definition of worship across our diverse expressions thus,
It is the opinion of Worship Leader magazine that the centre of worship communities is the preaching of the Scripture, which in partnership with the Holy Spirit of God, becomes the Word. From this central act of worship, a community is formed and constantly reformed. Music serves the reading and preaching of Scripture and ultimately the responsive process, but it is not the main thing. God chose the word “Word” to represent Him. Jesus was thus the “speech of God.” Word is therefore a metaphor for God. Singing, it can be argued, is a form of speech. We often refer to music in God’s house as sung prayer. But speech is a broader communicational concept than merely a song. For example, Psalm 19 speaks of nature pouring out praise to God, day and night. (Fromm, 2007, p. 6)
I like the theological balance conveyed in Fromm’s description of worship. It’s central theme is focused on God’s Word and allows choice expressions, such as singing, to find their way into our ever evolving traditions. It could be argued, however, that we are only ever one step away from disrupting the ‘theological balance’. Gary Parret writes, “Almost every time I hear the word worship used by believers today, it is clear that they are referring to singing praises” (Parrett, 2005, p. 40).
I know that I have found myself ‘over-balancing’ on many more occassions than I would like to admit. Activities, such as singing do play an important role in many of today’s worship traditions, but we must continually assess through self and group reflection whether our focus remains squarely focused on God’s Word or whether other fancies, such as singing, have won our attention.