Jeff Lawrence

Rethinking Worship


As the parent of a savvy brand new teenager – I have come, quite by accident, to the knowledge that my understanding of words is lacking.  Through the force of time and culture, words that once meant one thing have now been reborn to mean another.  And you better stay with the times or you’ll be “So 2008“.

Vocabulary is a vital part of understanding.  When I use a word like awful – do I really mean wonderful, delightful and amazing?  Or by saying this dollar is a counterfeit do I really mean a perfect copy?  Or if I call someone nice, do I really mean they’re ignorant & unaware?

Culture has a way of changing meaning and time reinforces these changes by eliminating any recall of what once was.  The mistakes of past generations can be repeated so easily when we forget and lose connection with truth.  And truth is the ultimate goal.

For followers of Jesus Christ, truth and meaning are securely preserved in the Bible.  Unfortunately, time and culture have redefined our vocabulary and replaced a new meaning to words that have critical importance in our understanding of God and His purposes for us.  Without a deep understanding of these words we lose the wonder and power of influence they can have on our lives.  Allow me to show you:

  • Church – modern meaning: A building where you go to attend a worship service or the group of people who regularly attend worship at the same place under the same leaders.  Biblical meaning: The one, united body of Christ-followers, called out of the world and the regional and local expressions of that one body.
  • Faith – modern meaning: Agreeing intellectually that something is real or exists.  Biblical meaning: Belief that rises to the level of increasing trust in a promise or person (beliefs that you lean or put your weight down on).
  • Salvation – modern meaning: Accepting Jesus into your heart to avoid hell and go to heaven after you die.  Biblical meaning: God’s rescue plan to save people and all of creation from sin and death to himself.

Adding to the list, allow me to offer one word that has been so diluted and corrupted that we have now accepted a new meaning that has destructive consequences!  That word – WORSHIP

Within the modern church, worship is now defined as songs, music, media; that moment of time before the teaching/preaching begins.  We applaud soloist and soak in our favorite songs – or we endure the forever long song service that doesn’t meet our preferences.  We’ve redesigned worship to be about us and for us.

And allow me to be very clear: we have so polluted and reduced this word and concept of worship that it has defiled our sanctuaries and corrupted our theology!

Our redefining of God’s word and meaning of worship will not be excused and has robbed us of the higher and magnificent scriptural meaning.  Worship is a great gift, created by, defined by, and empowered by God.  The wealth of this offering can transform our lives and bring God’s transcendent presence to even the smallest of moments – transforming the menial daily tasks to holy and divine.  The natural road we walk becomes hallowed ground when we understand God’s definition and purpose of worship.

Our worship: sound, lights, choirs, guitars, bands, orchestras, soloists, big, bold, quiet, moving.  Phrases such as: “loved that song”, “that was beautiful”, “that was long”, “do I have to stand(?)”, “I can’t see the screens”, “that’s too loud”, “I loved it”.

God’s worship: glory, honor, reverence, sing, shout, applaud, kneel, sacrifice, live, pray continuously, give, come, draw near.

Over the next several weeks – I hope you’ll join me as we reclaim the definition of worship.  We’ll take a look at the empowering of the Holy Spirit and the vital role of private worship.  We’ll see how worship is indeed God’s offering of power that once raised the dead and healed the sick.  So stay tuned as we journey over the next six weeks to encounter God in a new way and repeal the counterfeit worship in our lives and churches.





2 Responses

  1. Hello old friend… always, your words are rich and your wisdom is needed….so encouraging to soak in the truth you speak…..I miss you and Lisa so very much, even now…..I am reminded more often than you know of our days worshipping and doing life together at FBC….cherished for many reasons….though God has brought us on different paths in different cities, please know that you are both ALWAYS in my prayers and the years of wisdom and growing in worship with you as my leader and mentor have helped make me the worship leader and WORSHIPPER I am today……still very far from where I need to be, but so much further along because of you and the investment you made and huge chance you took by asking me to join the team that day…..I am so thankful for you and your ministry! Hug your wife for me and I look forward to reading more of what God has laid on your heart!! Love you brother!! Please let me know if yall make it to Atlanta anytime !!

    1. Thanks Brenda! You have been such an inspiration to so many – and a great friend of old (not saying any of us are old of course). We’d love to see you guys next time we’re in Atlanta! Blessings – Jeff

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