It seems, with increasing regularity, that we are making the term “worship” stand for the singing portion of church service—what used to be called the “song service”. “What’s wrong with that?” you may ask. Here’s the problem: it shows the ever-increasing error that most American church-goers are making in thinking that the bulk of their Christian experience is spent in a church service and all other time away from the church service is their own to use how they see fit.
Worship is a lifestyle. It is not just singing to/about Christ in a church service. It is not paying God your dues (which can be especially deceptive if you are really engaged in the service). It is mowing your neighbor’s yard while their away on vacation. It is doing devotions with your family at home. It is letting someone else go in front of you at the checkout line. It is doing all these things (and everything else!) for the glory of God.
What am I trying to say? In calling the singing portion of the church service “worship” we are making a tidy little dichotomy in our lives that says “I am worshiping here at church and don’t have to out there in the world”. We are duping ourselves into thinking that we are worshipers of God by what we do for 15-30 minutes a week when God is desiring worship 24/7. We begin the first step toward deceiving ourselves into thinking that we have fulfilled our biblical “duty” to Christ for the week by having our emotions on all cylinders during the song service.
I know that’s not the intent of those who do so. At first, folks calling the song service “worship” (as a synonym) are those who may be experiencing true worship. But over time, as that individual thinks of the “song service” and “worship” as one and the same, they begin to read passages in the scriptures dealing with worship and replace the word “worship” with “song service” in their mind.
They begin to harden their hearts towards commands from scripture and the pulpit to die to themselves. After all, “I just worshiped in the song service”, they think to themselves, “Surely me and the Lord are tight as we need to be. What more would God want of me?” However, anything that gives me a false sense of assurance in my sanctification must be avoided—even the smallest steps toward that something.
In my next entry, I’ll look at an example of some folks who thought they had “worship” all figured out.