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The What and Why of Worship

The What and Why of Worship

Don Purdey

The following is an excerpt from the book, “Don’t Fret: The Worship Leader’s Pocketbook.” This book can be purchased by clicking here:

Don't Fret: The Worship Leader's Pocketbook


Worship is first a choice we make, and then an action we take.

I look at it this way. Worship is first a choice we make, and then an action we take. Worship first and foremost is we, the people, choosing to honour God because of who he is. We choose to recognise God—Father, Son and Spirit—and then we act on that choice by bending our knees to him in humility and reverence, and living through him and for him. It occupies our whole life. It is afterward, when we look back on living out our life of worship, that we realise the blessings we have received in return. So for me, our heart’s desire in worship is to offer all that we are in honour of all who God is.

Years ago, I wrote a song trying to express this notion. It’s not a “known” song as to my knowledge it hasn’t been used outside my own congregations, but I print it here simply so that you’ll grasp my point more clearly:

You’re all that is good

You’re all that is perfect

You’re all that is holy

You’re all that is wise

You’re all that is mighty

You’re all that is lovely

You’re all that’s majestic

You’re all that’s sublime

Father I worship You

With all of my mind

Jesus I come to You

With all of my heart

Spirit, come flow through me Lay open my soul

So all that’s within me

Can praise all that You are.

Worship is a Lifestyle

As Paul put it so wonderfully in Romans 12, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices is a spiritual act of worship. To me, that means that I can consider all that I am, and all that I do, as worship. Every facet of my life can be counted as an opportunity to worship the God who created me, saved me and loves me.

Worship of God is the most important thing we do. Our Christian faith defines us. Often when we are getting to know people we will ask, “What do you do?” And the answer will be a doctor or a teacher or a shop attendant or whatever. And if we are a Christian, we become known as a Christian doctor, or a Christian teacher.

That has it all backwards. We are not defined by what we do—especially in God’s eyes. You aren’t a teacher who happens to be a Christian. You are a Christian who happens to be a teacher, or a doctor or whatever. You are a doctor Christian, or a teacher Christian. And your whole life is given for the purpose of glorifying God.

Worship is My True Purpose

So whether I am an artist, or a shop assistant, or a plumber, or a computer programmer, or a farmer, or a house-husband, or a nurse, or a factory hand, my daily work would be worship, my interactions with my fellow workers would be worship, my love for my family would be worship, the way I spoke my words and disciplined my home life would be worship, the whole way that I conducted my life would be a part of my means of honouring God. Because it is my faith that defines me and worship is my true purpose.

So worship can and should encompass every activity of our lives. Yet, as we saw from the dictionary, we also use the word to indicate what happens in a church service. It is that other definition that is the focus of this book.

What we do in a church service is, in a sense, an attempt to mimic in a corporate way the worship that we offer as individuals. The intent is the same: to glorify God. And the process is the same too: we take all that we have available among us and offer it together to God in honour of him. We want to apply our minds, our creativity, our skills, our hearts, our emotions, our passion, our bodies and our wills to this joint opportunity to fulfil the first commandment, that we love God with heart, soul, mind and strength.

Church worship is a freewill offering from a congregation of the people of God to the Lord they love and serve. And in saying that, I am also saying that it is NOT what it sometimes appears to be: a carefully programmed performance put on by a preacher, a choir or band and a few chosen leaders. If the congregation in their hearts and minds are separating themselves from what is being done at the front on their behalf then the service has failed in its most important duty.

Worship in Church

Worship in church is an amazing blessing, as it brings the heartfelt desire of many to honour their God together in a blessed unity. It fulfils a longing within us to unite with like-minded people and join with them to amplify all that is within us. We derive pleasure and satisfaction from blending with others for this supreme purpose.

Worship leader and vocalist Darlene Zschech describes walking into a church service shortly after her conversion with her “new heart and spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26) this way:

…here it was, the sound of one voice, one heart, one song, a sound that was more spiritual than musical, and a sound that was very beautiful… it was the sound of the church at worship… it’s the sound that everyone was born to recognise and contribute to… 

Most of us can probably recall a worship occasion that has been the pinnacle of our experience. For me, it came at a conference featuring John Wimber in Sydney in 1991. Five thousand Christians had gathered and they sang with all their hearts, not the latest modern song but an older tune, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory, hosanna, hosanna in the highest”. Some describe a mist, some say smoke, but whatever you call it, there was a whitish haze across the room that for me was the tangible presence of God in the old Hordern Pavilion of the Sydney Showground. There was a great band, and a really gifted worship leader, but it’s not just those people who made that moment special for me. It was ultimately those five thousand voices, joining as one in honour of their Lord. When worship is at its best, it is a freely given, thankful and joyful outpouring of the whole gathered body of Christ, focussed solely on their Lord.

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Checkout More Articles from Don Purdey:

Song Leading: The Vocalists

Worship Leading

Presenting the Music

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Purchase Don Purdey’s Book: Don’t Fret: The Worship Leader’s Pocketbook

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