The Concept of Worship

Nowhere in Scripture is worship actually defined. Prayer, praise, confession, sacrifice, faith, obedience, and many other terms describe different aspects of worship. But when three key word groups are examined in different contexts, it is clear that homage, reverence and service to God are central to the concept of worship.

—David G. Peterson, Encountering God Together, 29


The Content of Worship

The content of public worship is of immense importance. Writing in a different context, P. T. Forsyth said, ‘The preacher is not there to astonish people with the unheard of, he is there to revive them in what they have long heard.’ What is so for preaching—which is in itself an act of worship which is foundational to any public assembly for worship—is also true for the context in which preaching takes place. Every element of the public worship of the people of God must communicate the true content of the faith, which finds its focus on the person and work of Jesus the Messiah.

—Noel Due, Created For Worship:  From Genesis to Revelation to You, 235

Pastoral Worship

In an earlier time, a pastor caring for his flock, engaging in the activities related to the cure of souls meant, in great part, leading them in worship.  There is much truth to the Jesuit liturgical scholar Jungmann’s sweeping statement that “for centuries, the liturgy, actively celebrated, has been the most important form for pastoral care.” 

—William Willimon, Worship as Pastoral Care, 35

Off on the Right Foot

The opening lines of worship reveal much about the congregation’s notions of what worship is supposed to be and do. Just as the first minute can set the tone for a sports game, a business meting, a job interview, or a musical performance, so the opening words of a worship service communicate expectations that will influence worshipers’ experience of the whole service. Think about these opening words, and imagine what is being communicated in each case about what worship is:

“Alleluia, Sing to Jesus” (lyrics to an opening song)

Good morning, and welcome to worship!

There’s plenty of room up front:

Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We’re going to start now, so a bit of quiet please.

Hey, good morning.  I said good morning! Welcome to Vanguard Church. There seems to be a lot of energy in the room. Let’s start off by standing and singing “You Are Worthy.”

Grace to you, and peace, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(For the whole list of questions and to read worship reports, visit

—Debra and Ron Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 48

Happy Reformation Day!

It is often said that Luther restored congregational singing.  This is true, but he did more than that: Luther restored preaching to the congregation—a most appropriate activity for lay priests. “If, now, the congregation is to proclaim the divine truth, it must have a sermon worth preaching. This is the reason for the substantial…doctrinal content in many of the Reformation hymns.”

—P. J. Janson, “The Reason We Sing, Reformation and Revival 4.4 (Fall 1995), 19