How We Use the Word “Worship” May Be Misleading

worship_off.gifWe all know that looks can be deceiving. And sometimes how we present something can communicate things we don’t intend to convey.

As leaders, we know that worship encompasses every area of our lives. However, if we were to look on many of our church websites and church newsletters, we could easily assume that worship is merely one part of our lives. Often we’ve relegated worship to a category all its own. We even assign certain times and locations where “worship” takes place every week. When we do this, what are we really telling our members about worship?

Please allow me to give you an example that I think will help us see how we may be miscommunicating. Please imagine you have just joined a physics study group. You have little or no prior knowledge of physics, but you join this group because you want to learn more (for some unknown reason!) about this topic.

When you join the physics study group, they immediately encourage you to visit their website. Afterall, it was designed for new members just like you. When you go to their site, here are the titles and links you see on their home page:


Proton Neutron Atom Electron

Looking at this, wouldn’t you assume that these four words are very different and separate ideas and categories? Would you have any idea that protons, neutrons and electrons are, in fact, all part of atoms? Look at it again. Does it not look like an atom is a separate and distinct category all its own? Indeed, in this case, looks are deceiving…

Now, rather than it being a physics site, let’s make it a church website. Imagine you are a new believer with little or no understanding about true, Biblical, whole-life worship, and you read something like this on your church’s website:


Serve Share Worship Grow

Without realizing it or meaning to do it, your church would be communicating to you that worship is a separate and distinct category from the others listed. By inference, therefore, they would be saying that serving is not worship; sharing is not worship, and growing is also separate from worship. This is not what your pastor and church leaders believe, but it is certainly what they are representing to you and anyone else who doesn’t already “know better.”

On many church websites, if we were to click on the category link entitled “Worship,” the picture we would immediately see is that church’s auditorium. Now, what does that tell someone? Exactly this: That room is where those people in that church do their worshiping every week.

Very possibly, if we drove by that same church, we might also see a huge banner or marquis out front that reads “Sunday Worship.” Their service times would even be listed below the title to make sure no one misunderstands: “When we worship on Sunday, this is the time we do it.”

No doubt some who read this will say, “Yes, but that’s how we’ve always described our Sunday services. We’ve always simply called them, ‘worship.’ People know what we mean.” Oh, do they? I wouldn’t be so sure. George Barna and other church statiticians have proven over and over again that few Christians really understand what true worship to our Lord is. In fact, studies have shown that most believers think worship is something they only do at church, and they think it is primarily for their own benefit.

A simple change we might think of making is to add the word “gathering” or “service” to our signs so they read, “Sunday Worship Services.” This clarifies the type of worship we are refering to. And rather than calling the worship leader’s section in the newsletter by the general term of “Worship,” consider naming it, “Corporate Worship.” Sure, it’s a little longer, but isn’t it worth the extra type to clearly communicate what we really believe?

As pastors and worship leaders, we had best not assume our members “know what we mean” when we use the word, “worship.” We need to carefully evaluate both what we are teaching them and how we are teaching them about the reason we were all created in the first place: to worship Him.

(c) 2007 by Dwayne Moore

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