Dave Wainscott has put together some excellent quotes around the topic of “Worship is not Music.”
“It would be true to say that during the last twenty-five years or so amongst those churches which would own the label 'evangelical', a significant change in understanding has taken place over the meaning of the word 'worship'. If a few decades ago the person leading the service had said, 'We are now going to have a time of worship', most people would have looked on in utter bewilderment. Now everyone would know exactly what to expect: a lengthy time of contemporary Christian songs, maybe interspersed with a few prayers and exhortations, perhaps with hands held up in the air and a far-away look in the eyes.”
We have, first of all, limited the concept of worship to an event that takes place for twenty minutes rather than a life that is devoted in love and surrender to a compelling God.
Even worse, we have reduced corporate worship to times in which music must be present. Further, we have become so dependent on great-sounding music to drive the worship times that very little true heart-worship is needed. In fact, some would say, the result is a steep decline in actual corporate “worship” and an increase of music-moved emotion.
I share this only because simple/organic churches have the opportunity to re-capture the heart of worship. We want to re-affirm that the Christian life of worship is one that is not segmented into times of worship and times of non-worship. Every day, and every gathering (whether at home, or with friends, or with nonChristians, or with community) is an opportunity for worship of many different kinds.
AND, when we do gather together and find ourselves expressing love-sick worship toward God with our hands, lips, body, soul, and spirit… we can recover heart-driven worship. We can learn the wonder of a small group of believers who have developed the daily discipline of turning their hearts toward God in adoration coming together to do the same corporately. In that time, music can be good but it is not essential. Spoken praise works, psalms read works, silence works, spontaneous non-professional singing works, poetry works. When our hearts are driving worship the external forms become far less important than the inner longings that truly do usher in a deep conscious sense of God’s presence.
I love worship. And I love music. But I long to see our gatherings re-capture the numinous awe of God simply around the fact that a group of Jesus-lovers have gathered who are in awe of Him.
When the music fades / All is stripped away / And I simply come / Longing just to bring / Something that's of worth / That will bless Your heart
I bring You more than a song / For a song in itself / Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within / Through the way things appear / You're looking into my heart
I'm coming back to the heart of worship / And it's all about You / It's all about You, Jesus