Several groups in our church have been talking about worship over the past couple of months. In one of those discussions, I offered some of my own thoughts about the purpose of worship—not the parts of worship or specifically what we do on Sunday mornings—but why we worship and what we are trying to accomplish through our worship. Those thoughts were built on work that has been done by Dan Kimball who is a pastor at Vintage Church in Santa Cruz, California.
As we begin a new year, I decided I would share those thoughts with all of you through this article. Kimball suggests that there are three primary purposes for worship:
- To worship the holy God who created the universe and everything in it (Philippians 2:10-11). First and foremost, our worship is to be directed towards the One who created us. The Calvin Institute of Worship suggests “Christian worship should be a generous and excellent outpouring of ourselves before God. Worship should not be stingy. Like the perfume that anointed Jesus’ feet, our worship should be a lavish outpouring of our love and praise to the God
who has created and redeemed us.
- To be a gathering where those joining us will know without a doubt that God is among us (1 Corinthians 14:25). Our worship provides a witness that God is alive and active in our world and in our lives today. Our worship proclaims that God is personal, present and powerful.
- To create a time for followers of Jesus to gather and encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25). While we should certainly offer praise and thanks to God daily, it is also critical that we come together to worship as fellow Christians. We need the support of the community—the body of Christ—to help us effectively follow Jesus.
I believe that if we focus on these three purposes in our planning of worship and in the attitude that the entire congregation brings to worship on Sunday morning, that we will discover a new power both in what happens and what we experience each week.
One of my favorite passages that states the reason we worship comes from Revelation 4:11: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created
and have their being.” I pray this year that we will discover a renewed commitment to worshiping God each week.
God bless, Hank