Consider what it would look like if Polka were the dominant musical form in our country.

I can picture worship leaders nationwide taking up the accordion in order to remain hip and relevant. Of course, there would also be those who boldly stand firm against the worldly “polkification” of the Church. This kind of debate is the heart of the “worship wars” that have rocked the church for a couple of decades.

I’ve been thinking lately about how we “do” worship in church today. I’m not really talking about style of music, here (this is NOT a “Christians can rock too!” blog). I know that many, many churches pour a great deal of time, talent and hard work into the very worthy endeavor of leading a congregation to God’s throne each week, and that’s not going to look or sound exactly the same in every church. It shouldn’t, in fact.

Here’s where I’m going with this: Christian leaders have often been so focused on STYLE of music and FORM of presentation I suspect they’ve never given much thought to what “worship” actually is. To think beyond the “HOW” to the “WHY” of it.

As I’m sure you know, “worship” isn’t limited to simply singing praise to God or listening to a band play. The Greek and Hebrew words that are translated “worship” in Scripture contain rich meaning, but can be boiled down to these basic ideas: to bow, to submit, to serve, to honor.

When we “worship” God, we submit to His authority in our lives; we serve Him and give Him honor in all we do. Singing and playing instruments are simply one way that we serve, honor and submit to God – they are expressions of a worshiper’s life.

One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 12:1:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God
– this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Now try an experiment with me; read that verse again and substitute “voices” for the word “bodies”:

“. . . offer your [VOICES] as living sacrifices . . .”

Now that’s not a bad idea – but offering my “voice” or “instrument” isn’t as complete as the idea of offering my whole self to God.

Submitting to God, serving Him and honoring Him with all of our lives. Becoming a “living sacrifice.”

THIS is our spiritual act of worship.

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  1. Richard says:

    It is also true that biblical worship is not always a preponderance of emotion, but is sometimes dogged perseverance. Rev 2:19

  2. Larry says:

    oddly enough, I live near the Czech capitol of America and every year they put on a Polka Mass–accordions, et. al.!! go, ump pah pah!!!

  3. -brent says:

    Darren and Scott,

    Good thoughts Scott, many of us are aware of the pitfalls of trying to ‘put on the program’ and we miss the worship. As to old songs or new– yes it isn’t just music– but music touches in all kinds of unexplained ways. My wife would not even try to listen to a country version of any song. ‘Old’ music touches differently and many of those hymns can still bring me to right to my knees. example: Randy Travis does his arrangement of Amazing Grace with power; but when he singe Heart of Worship it fall flat (at least for me…

  4. Susan Gadberry says:

    Love the post. I think about it all the time, that worship isn’t a “thing we do”, it’s the life we live. Every choice I make should be worshipful to God. Whether I’m cleaning the bathroom {Down on my knees oh Lord is the most high place…}, or walking my 3 miles at the cemetary {Let everything I do, may it bring glory to You}, it should all be an act of worship.

  5. Scott Riggan says:

    Yes, Darren, I’ve experienced the same thing. Sometimes a song will lead me straight to the throne of God while a different song leaves me on the cold hard steps outside the throne room. But if we think of worship as only an emotional or spiritual experience, we aren’t thinking Biblically. To “worship” is to serve, bow before, honor and submit to God. I’m still wrestling with this, but I think my point is that we all tend to place too much emphasis on musical preference, while God is interested in something more.

  6. Darren Simons says:

    Worship is more than music, yes. Romans 12 is a great way to make that point. But worshipful music can be so helpful in a life of worship. Maybe it’s totally personal and individual, but some music really moves me and other music just doesn’t. I wasn’t raised in the church, so maybe that’s why older music just doesn’t mean anything to me. Is it just that I don’t have the “nostalgia factor”…? Anyway, thanks, Scott, for contributing to the dialog about the how and why of worship.

  7. Shar Brown says:

    I think you’re right that worship is more than just singing to God, and that musical preference is not the issue. But I’ve been in the middle of the “worship wars” at my church and it gets ugly sometimes. People feel so strongly about how music in the church is done.

  8. Rob Riggan says:

    I was just thinking along those same lines last week. John 1:23 “…Make straight the way of the Lord…” According to this verse, are we supposed to making it easier for People to get to God, or for God to get to people? One thought works hard to make church/worship relevant, hip, and easy. The other thought, asks “What is it you want to bring, God; what would please You?” just a thought…

  9. Mary Fischer says:

    Very true – thanks for that explanation. I feel like true worship gets lost in the whole presentation of it all in church.

  10. Tony Brown says:

    That’s great. I love the experiment with Romans 12 – it really drives home your point.

    So when are you coming back to Wisconsin?

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