A Case for Dynamic Worship: The Definition
Over the years I have seen so many words paired with worship in an effort to somehow illustrate what worship should be or accomplish. There are the by now ubiquitous stylistic terms of traditional, contemporary, liturgical, alternative, and so many more. Each of these are geared to contextualize the cultural representations in music and media, as well as the environment, of our worship. Then there are the terms which appear to be intended to express our, as the worshipers, intentions or motivations for worship using words such as passionate, charismatic, prophetic, and others. Lastly we have the terms which indicate the “targeted demographic” of our worship with things like Boomer, Buster, Millennial, X-er, or others.
People like having a target and we want to have some kind of goal or objective to hang on our worship efforts. So, what would or should that descriptor be? In an effort to reach and teach others about the biblical, theological and historical understandings of worship I looked for a term that could describe this understanding, not merely contextualize some outside style, emotion, or target. The word I finally chose is dynamic.
Why dynamic worship? In its adjective form dynamic “is characterized by constant change, activity or progress.” In other words this is worship that is alive and full of action, constantly in motion. To be dynamic, worship would have to go beyond emotions, style, or target audience. It goes to the heart of the worship event itself. As a noun, dynamic is “a force that stimulates change or progress within a system or process.” It also describes an interactive system or process between two or more forces. Why does this fit worship so well? We know that when we gather and worship God we do so in the very presence of God. In the Bible when anyone encounters God, there is a change in the life of that individual or group of people. Dynamic worship indicates worship that stimulates change because of the interaction between ourselves and God. Lastly, the roots of the word dynamic come from several Greek words whose meanings include power, powerful, and to be able. Worship is the relationship building activity between ourselves and God whose power feeds us and enables us to carry out the work of God.
To say Dynamic Worship, therefore, describes an event that includes an active exchange between ourselves and God that ultimately, through the power of the Holy Spirit, enables and empowers us to be the Body of Christ in the world. This understanding of worship then precedes any other descriptor we may attach such as those which indicate emotions, style or demographic.
The ability to bring dynamic worship to your church is not a great mystery. It comes from meeting the challenges that lie at the core of what congregational worship is intended to be and addressing the unhealthy predispositions and expectations we bring into the worship environment. How do we do that?
In the next several articles I will address specific steps that any worship leader can take to ensure that the worship of the church is dynamic in nature before it is anything else.
Dr. Craig Gilbert is an experienced worship leader who is passionate about all aspects of congregational worship. With a graduate degree in conducting and a “road degree” playing in bands, Craig brings a love of all musical styles to his worship planning. In his 20 years of church worship ministry Craig has served in churches of all types, sizes and worship models. He has been blessed to serve with pastors of all types as well; even a Catholic priest! Craig is the founder of the worship renewal ministry TheWorshipDoctor.com.
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Dr. Craig Gilbert, a consultant and coach fondly known as The Worship Doctor, is the founder of Purposed Heart Ministries, a worship renewal and education program for all churches. Craig 25 years as a music and worship minister working with choirs, bands, and various artistic groups while leading and designing worship in churches of all sizes and styles. Now he spends his time helping churches across the country imagine what worship could and should be in their local context and then helps them get there!