Worship Notes

"Praise or Worship?
Or Neither?"

I believe that worship services should be purpose-driven.  That is, everything you do in a particular service should be done in keeping with whatever goal or purpose you have set for that service.  This helps us to keep our focus and keeps us from being ineffective as ministers.  I'll explain.

If you are leading the praise and worship portion of the service, what is your goal?  Is it to lead the congregation into God's Presence?  Is it to sing songs that are in line with the Pastor's sermon in order to help reinforce his message?  Maybe a combination of the two?  Or perhaps you are trying to find the three fast songs and three slow songs that will fill your song list for the service.

People refer to us many times as praise and worship leaders.  But I like the title "Minister of Music" or "Music Minister" better.  Not that I'm overly concerned with titles.  But I feel that "Minister of Music" most accurately describes my duty and calling, for it goes far beyond the aspects of just praise and worship.

Most people think that there are two kinds of songs: praise songs & worship songs.  A lot of people also think that the tempo of the song determines whether it is praise or worship.  Actually, both of those notions are false.  Some songs are neither praise nor worship.  There are songs of declaration, songs of prayer or petition, songs of dedication, and many others.  It is the content of the song that determines what kind of song it is.

When you are preparing your songlist, look at the meaning of the songs you are going to minister.  Ask yourself this question, "Will the content of these songs ultimately take the people into God's Presence in worship?"  I believe that should be the overall goal in every purpose-driven worship service...to usher the congregation into God's Presence.

Remember that the content of the songs will determine what kind of songs they are.  I have heard slow praise songs and fast worship songs and vice versa.  And I do some songs that are neither praise nor worship.  But my ultimate goal is always to take the people into worship.  

There are many opinions and definitions of praise and worship.  And I don't claim to have the entire handle on everything pertaining to music ministry.  But below are a couple of definitions that I believe are fairly accurate and may help you in determining what kind of song you are dealing with:

Praise:  Acknowledging someone (in this case, God) for what they have done, are doing, or are going to do.  Praise acknowledges God for His acts, the things He does.  It can be personal or corporate.  It can be horizontal (communicated to others) or vertical (communicated to God).

Worship:  Acknowledging God for Who He is.  His Greatness.  Worship is not dependant on the things God does for us.  It simply gives homage to God because He is God.  It says that He is worthy simply because of Who He is...God.  It is the highest form of prayer.  It is not corporate, nor is it horizontal.  It is personal, one-on-one intimacy with God Himself.  It is communion with the Father.  I believe the term "corporate worship" is a misnomer, unless you are referring worship that is done by an entire corporate body (as in church) rather than in one's prayer closet.  But the worship itself is still personal, vertical, and intimate.

If the song does not acknowledge God for what He's done, doing, or going to do...and if it doesn't acknowledge Him for Who He is, it is neither praise nor worship.  There's nothing wrong with that.  The Bible tells us to teach and admonish one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  In an ariticle entitled, "Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs" I break down the definitions for these three expressions of worship.  There are also many other Biblical examples of music that was used for reasons other than praise or worship.

Knowing what kinds of songs you are ministering will help you fulfill the goals you have for every service.  As I have said before, communication is an important key to effective ministry.  Sit down and talk with your Pastor.  Establish goals for a purpose-driven ministry.  Don't just sing songs to sing them, and don't get into the habit of leaning on "that one song" that gets the congregation motivated every time.  Don't rely on those types of crutches.  

There is a lot of material out there to help you in expanding your repertoire...songs that will help you in accomplishing whatever goal(s) you and your Pastor have set for the service or season that your church is in.  Sing them with purpose.  Sing them with conviction.  Then step back and watch God move!