Empty stadium seats

Spectators to Worshipers

By Weston Ring

Worship is an action.  It is not passive, it is not watched.  Worship is more than an experience, a feeling, or a well written chorus.  The word “worship” is actually a contraction of “worth-ship.”  In other words, our worship is the act of assigning and proclaiming worth to that which deserves it.  

How often do we approach Sunday morning with such a different definition of worship?  Instead of actively bestowing honor, praise, and worth to our deserving God, we expect a show.  If we are entertained, worship was good that morning.  If we’re bored or the band was off, worship was lacking.  It’s time to redefine and re-frame our conception of worship.

Let’s look at a few definitions of worship.

Bob Kauflin defines it this way,

“Biblical worship is God’s covenant people recognizing, reveling in, and responding rightly to the glory of God in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Similarly, Warren Wiersbe says,

“Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does.”

What I like about both of these definitions is that they highlight the fact that worship is first and foremost an active response to God.  Also notice that worship is not just emotion, it is both cognitive and physical as well.

With all of these things in mind, that worship is an active response to a holy God, and that worship is a holistic expression and not simply an emotional experience, let’s shape our understanding of corporate worship on a typical Sunday morning. Every Sunday we strive for our worship to fulfill three requirements.  In our worship we are to be: boldly approaching the throne of God, surrendered to the spirit of God, and declaring the Kingdom of God and God as the King.

Boldly Approaching

Hebrews 4:16 says,

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

And 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us,

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

We are not called to be bashful or ashamed, but bold in our worship.  Not only does God desire for us to worship him boldly, but it is also a witness to others around us.  Authentic, passionate worship is contagious and attractive both to other believers and visitors.  Your appropriate response to God could give others the boost they need to fully engage in worship.

Spirit Surrendered

We all need to be in tune with what the Spirit is doing on Sunday morning.

John 4:23-24 says this:

>“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

And Acts 1:8 says,

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Often people feel like the “right way” to worship means standing when the pastor tells them to and singing along with the words on the screen.  They never let the Spirit penetrate or work any deeper in their hearts than that.  Remember that we all have freedom in worship, and my response to what the Spirit is working in my heart may be completely different than yours at any given moment.  Kneeling in adoration, sitting and reflecting, using lyrics to guide prayer, and spirit led spontaneous worship are all appropriate responses to our God.  The trick is to not get caught up in whatever everyone else is doing.  Just listen to the Spirit and let him guide your actions.

Declaring the Kingdom and the King

It is one of our primary roles as followers to declare and create God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).

1 Peter 2:9 tells us this,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Luke 17 tells us,

“the Kingdom of God is in our midst.”

It’s important to remember that the Kingdom of God is not just a future occurrence, but that we’re living in the “now and not yet” of the Kingdom.  We are called to reveal the Kingdom of God here and now to the world around us.  Every Sunday we should be striving to declare the Kingdom through our words and actions to those we are leading in worship.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to worship, but there is a huge difference between being a worshiper and a spectator.  A worshiper engages, a spectator observes.  A worshiper is impacted, a spectator is entertained.  A worshiper is growing, a spectator is stagnant.  In the end, it’s all about assigning worth and honor to a deserving and loving God.  Worship is food to our souls and a sweet fragrance to our God.  Let your worship be bold, spirit surrendered, and loudly declaring the kingdom of God.

Weston Ring is the lead worship pastor of Existence Church, overseeing the technical and creative worship teams of two campuses.  He is passionate about creating excellent environments where people can be free to boldly and freely worship God. You can find