PHILOSOPHY OF WORSHIP MINISTRIES
By: Holland Davis
1774 Crofton Lane
Escondido, CA. 92027
The philosophy of worship describes the way one approaches worship and includes a thorough analysis of our underlying presuppositions. In my philosophy of worship, I have included a statement of theology, values, priorities, practices, and programs. These statements are the current culmination of my life’s education and experience. They are dynamic and are constantly being modified as I grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. With this in mind, let me present to you my philosophy of worship
STATEMENT OF THEOLOGY
The Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Peter writes,
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. -1 Peter 2:9”
The scripture clearly teaches that we were set apart to God for the purpose of worshipping and enjoying Him. God, in His mercy, chose us, delivered us, and now woos us to come and live in His presence. Richard Foster describes worship as “our responding to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father.” Simply put, worship is loving God in each other’s presence and loving each other in God’s presence. Paul gives us the foundational basis of worship in Ephesians. He writes,
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. – Eph 2:4-5”
Strong’s concordance defines grace as “the divine influence upon the heart, and it’s reflection in the life.” The divine influence is God’s power focused on our lives. It’s reflection in our lives is our own unique expression of worship. Each one of us is impregnated with worship. This worship that impregnates us is the result of experiencing God’s love and grace. The great theologian, Bob Dylan, said it like this, “Lord,
you’ve done everything for me. What can I do for you?” Let me now list for you a synopsis of various beliefs that I have concerning the discipline of worship.
1. Worship is for God. “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ -Mark 12:29-30”
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the trueworshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. -John 4:23”
2. Worship is through Jesus. “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:5”
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise– the fruit of lips that confess his name. -Hebrews 13:15”
3. Worship is by the Spirit. “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh– -Phil 3:3”
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” -John 4:24″
4. Worship is a lifestyle. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. – Romans 12:1”
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. -1 Cor 6:19-20”
5. Worship is a participatory response. Let’s look at the words for worship (for this section I have relied heavily on Carl Tuttle’s previously published works):
a.Halal (Haw-lal) Hebrew: To be boastful or make a noise; to brag about, to magnify; to be clamorously foolish; to praise. The root word of Hallelujah.
b.Yadah (Yaw-dah) Hebrew: To throw your hand; worship with an extended hand. Originally associated with gestures that accompany praise. c.Todah (To-daw) Hebrew: Thanksgiving, praise, thank offering,
hymns of thanksgiving, sacrifices of thanksgiving, throwing out your hands to God with an attitude of thanksgiving for God’s promise of victory.
d.Zamar (Zaw-mar) Hebrew: To make music (in praise toGod); to touch the strings; to strike chords; to make harmony; praise, praise in song, sing praises, to chant.
e.Shachah (Shaw-khaw) Hebrew: To bow down, do homage, be down, to prostrate.
f.Segid (Seg-eed) Hebrew: Pay homage to, bend down, bow, stoop low.
g.Samach (Saw-makh) Hebrew: To be glad, happy, rejoice, take pleasure.
h.Siys (Sece) Hebrew: To be bright, (to leap up; leap for; to be extremely joyful): rejoice, rejoice greatly, make mirth.
i.Proskuneo (Pros-koo-neh-O) Greek: Most prevalent New Testament word for worship: to turn toward and kiss or come close to and kiss: to reverence, worship, to prostrate oneself, adore on one’s knees.
j.Agalliao (Ag-al-lee-ah-o) Greek: To make glorious, exult (elevate by praise); rejoice greatly; the outward demonstration of joy and pride and the exultation experienced in public and private
worship; shouting for joy; attitudes of thankful joy before God. Even God joins in this rejoicing.
STATEMENT OF VALUES
Values are things that one really deems important. They are the kind of thoughts that assign worth or significance to things. The following items are things that I value in the worship experience and
1. God’s real, experiential presence. “The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. All the Levites who were musicians–Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives–stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and
thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God. -2 Chron 5:11-14″
“When Solomon finished praying, fire came down fromheaven and consumed the burnt offering and the
sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” -2 Chron 7:1-3″
2. Free and expressive worship to God. “Of David. I will praiseyou, O LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. -Psalm 138:1-2″
“Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD. -Psalm 150:3-6”
3. Worship as an expression of life. Worship has context in the larger picture of our lives. We celebrate life, long for intimacy, welcome spontaneity, pursue the leading of the Holy Spirit, turn from evil ways and false gods as expressions of the life that is ours in Christ Jesus.
“When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” -Acts 11:18″
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. -1 John 1:1”
4. People as and end in and of themselves. I value non-manipulative relationships. I value adult-to-adult
relationships vs. parental control relationships. I see people as having worth and significance.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:29-31”
“and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. -Matthew 12:10-13″
5. Biblical Integrity. “With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. – Psalm 119:13-16”
“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of soundteaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. -2 Tim 1:13”
6. Honesty and integrity in worship. “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. -Psalm 145:18”
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offeringswere put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything– all she had to live on.” -Mark 12:41-44″
7. Musicianship. “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, andshout for joy. -Psalm 33:3”
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord,not men, -Eph 6:7”
8. Original Music. One of the signs of revival is the writing ofnew worship songs. Songs given to the local church are for the purpose of specifically facilitating the work of God in that church. Oftentimes these songs also minister on a regional, national or international level. New songs give new breath and expression to worship. “A psalm. Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. -Psalm 98:1”
“I will sing a new song to you, O God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you, -Psalm 144:9”
“And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. -Rev 5:9”
STATEMENT OF PRIORITIES
Priorities are visual extensions of values. They are the things that one spends time, energy, and money on. Priorities grow out of what one really values, how one perceives himself, one’s vision and calling,
and what one thinks to be true of life. With that in mind, here is a list of priorities that I hold in the context of worship ministries. I am indebted to John Wimber’s material on Building a Worship Philosophy for this section.
1. Worship is directed and focused upon God Himself. We do not merely sing about God, but to Him. We choose songs that direct us to God and not ourselves.
2. Time is set aside to worship. Pliny the younger wrote to the emperor Trajan that the first century Christians would frequently worship far into the night singing chorus after chorus for hours at a time. This includes time spent corporately and privately.
3. Invest money for musical instruments and sound equipment to have needed resources for quality in worship.
4. Time is spent preparing for worship. This includes setting up equipment, planning rehearsals, preparing support materials for the congregation, doing sound checks. We want to remove every barrier within our control to better facilitate people in the worship experience.
5. Train others to lead worship in order to have enough people to lead in small groups, other congregational settings, multiple worship teams, etc.
6. Teach others how to worship so they may experience intimacy with God. I also encourage participation from the congregation by “coaching” them in the worship experience.
7. Time is spent developing relationship with other worship team members. I think it is critical to the health of a worship ministry that all the people involved have open, honest, relationships with each other.
8. There is freedom to integrate change as the worship ministry grows and expands. Although we are careful to bring changes consistent with our values, I believe that worship is a dynamic and free flowing ministry. Care must be taken that worship never becomes stagnant or rote.
STATEMENT OF PRACTICES
Practices are those symbols that communicate one’s values and priorities. They are the things done that expose what one thinks is important and worth spending time, energy, and money on. Listed below are
specific practices that I engage in within the context of worship.
1. Uninterrupted flow of worship. We sing many songs in succession with very little input. Our goal is to
connect people to God.
2. Worship in a contemporary musical style. We use drums, keyboards, electric guitars, and other modern instruments to facilitate worship. Our goal is to provide people with a worship experience that they can culturally relate to and enjoy.
3. Choose songs that speak primarily to God and affirm God’s grace and love for us. Although “body life” songs or songs that speak to the church are important, our primary responsibility in worship is to give God the glory due His name. Our goal is to worship Him, not focus on ourselves.
4. Encourage the total participation of each individual through the use of body (clapping, dancing, shouting, bowing, kneeling, etc.) soul (reading scripture, reciting creeds, testimonials, singing, etc.), and spirit (charismatic gifts, awareness of God’s presence, naked spirit to naked Spirit). Worship is a response to God’s love. We all know what to do when someone makes a touchdown at a football game, but don’t know what to do when we worship the King of all Kings. Our goal is to model worship in a way that enables other to participate.
5. Worship often and in many different circumstances. We worship whenever we gather in small groups, congregational meetings, celebration meetings, and other spontaneous events.
6. Look for new expressions and experiences with God. We are constantly looking for new songs, new modes of worship, new ways to say “I love You.”
7. Look for the manifestation of God’s presence. We wait upon the Holy Spirit’s leading through prayer, meditation, divine observation. We desire to see God resting on people in peace, moving upon them with power, and touching them with healing virtue.
8. Constantly look to scriptures as the basis and guideline for all spiritual experience. Although not all modern manifestations of spiritual experience are listed in scripture, we seek to “test the spirits” by scripturally discerning the benefits of such experience. In my estimation, the key test is 1) Is Jesus the focal point? Is He exalted as Lord of Lords? 2) Is it loving and caring for the individual? 3) Does the experience benefit the person and promote devotion and discipleship to Jesus?
9. Encourage participation by other musicians and worship team members. Although my personal focus is music, we also encourage the use of dance and the arts in worship. As means of encouragement, we constantly communicate clear vision, provide opportunities, and provide resources.
10. Encourage the writing of new worship songs and liturgy. We are committed to local songwriters and artists. God brings together many diverse giftings for the purpose of building up the community. One of the most profound ways to maintain freshness and vitality in worship is to use material that God has given to the worship community. Our goal is to encourage those whom God has gifted in the ability to provide language for the worshipping community to express love for God.
11. Develop ministries based on giftedness. As a gift based ministry, we are committed to releasing into leadership those chosen by God and endowed with spiritual power and authority to perform the task at hand. Our goal is to participate with the Father and recognize authentic, Spirit empowered leaders and in doing so, create an environment where personal power and perspective gives way to God’s power and perspective.
STATEMENT OF PROGRAMS
Programs allow opportunities for the practical aspects of ministry to occur. These are the most highly visible aspects of one’s worship philosophy. The following are program areas that I am most familiar with.
1. Small Group Meetings. This is the best place to develop new worship leaders. It provides a “safe” atmosphere for growth. These are home based meetings.
2. Mini Congregations. These are meetings that occur on a larger scale than small groups, but smaller than congregational meetings. Groups like Single Groups, High School Groups, Young Married, Divorced, etc. fit into this category.
3. Congregational Meetings. These are meetings that consist of several home groups or mini-congregations. They may be thought of as regional groupings of home groups, or mini-churches. The concept is to have one church with several congregations meeting in different parts of a county.
4. Celebrations. These are the meetings generally considered to be “church.” These are large meetings of multiple congregations, home groups and visitors. Although we typically think of Sunday A.M. services, this is not limited to that particular model.
5. Seminars. These are meetings that are designed to dispense a particular focus of information. They provide opportunities for further training and involvement regarding particular topics.
6. Spontaneous Events. This can range from picnics to birthdays. Any creative reason to gather and worship can be included here.
7. Short Term/Long Term Mission Teams These are groups of people that are specifically trained in the ability to equip other church groups in the skills of worship ministry. They would go into groups and do one of two things. They would either (1) move in for a specified period of time, or (2) go in for specific training events. These would be groups of musicians who are skilled in a variety of areas such as sound reinforcement, theological concepts, assessment, developing philosophies of ministry, musical arrangement, etc.
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