Worship is not primarily about you and your bundle of felt needs, wishes, desires, good intentions, or a desire to escape dull or threatening realities of life through a swooning spiritual experience. “Worship is not about performance! The worship leaders are not there to keep us amused and entertained; they are not performers fishing for double encores. They are to guide us in offering a sacrifice of worship to God.” Worship is about God. We worship God because of who he is (Tracy, The Wesleyan-Holiness Way to Spiritual Formation, lesson 15). ” From “Spiritual Direction in the Wesleyan-Holiness Tradition” by Wesley D. Tracy in Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls: A Guide to Christian Approaches and Practices.

I think this is why I lean toward liturgical worship. It is firmly centered around God in music, sermon, prayer and communion. It’s focus is this is how we come into God’s presence corporately. I also like how music cannot take over the worship service. So many times worship is reduced to music and singing, and that is only one part of worship. Public proclamation of the Word is also worship (one of the reasons I like the lectionary: reading all the passages for Sunday focuses us on the importance of God’s Word itself instead of just the interpretation of a passage during the service). The sermon is part of worship as is the prayers of the community, offertary, and communion.

The one thing I have loved about the emergent movement is its insistence on broadening what worship is and its communal nature. Corporate worship is “us and Jesus” not “me and Jesus with all these other people.” That’s one of the reasons responsive readings and readers’ theaters are some of my favorite forms of worship: it emphasizes that we are worshiping together as a community (as does singing, but I’m not great singer, and I love to proclaim Scripture). We are not sitting in a cocoon separated from everyone else (which is why I rarely close my eyes during singing–I like looking at the people I’m worshiping with).

What about you? What do you think worship is and what should it do? How do you like to worship with your community of faith?