Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches

Home

SERIES:  "RESTORING THE CHURCH'S TRUE IDENTITY"  

 

Session No. 4    A CELEBRATORY PEOPLE  

 

INTRODUCTION:   What words or images come to mind when you hear the word, "Worship"?  

___________________      ______________    ______________     _________________

 

How do you respond to the following definitions....  

 

a. "Worship is singing hymns and songs."  

 

b. "Worship is what we do in Church on Sunday."  

 

c. "Worship is praying to God."  

 

d. "Worship is giving ourselves to God."  

 

How do you define "worship"? While we recognise that this is a spiritual reality that does not lend itself easily to definition, it is important that we have some understanding of worship so that we can know whether or not we are engaged in true worship or in some form of a human substitute!  

 

Consider and discuss the following quote. What do you like about it? What don't you like about it? What don't you understand about it? What would you change?  

 

Worship is the total response of our wholel being to God's self-revelation. It cannot be confined to a special hour in a particular building. It is our conviction that every other dimension of the Christian life flows out of the priority of worship. Even before the obvious evangelistic task of the Church, we are called upon first to be worshippers of the True God......Service that is not born in worship becomes sterile. Worship that does not issue in service will become selfish.....true worship is related to the state of the heart, not to the state of the art".  

 

We are a people who celebrate their God and this celebration is a major component of the privilege of worship. It is obvious from the Old Testament that religious festivals and celebrations played a major role in the corporate life of the people of God. They celebrated feasts of various kinds. Can you think of any on the spur of the moment? These celebrations recalled high moments in the life of the nation. Can you remember, for example, which Jewish feast celebrated the Exodus from Egypt?  

 

Under the New Covenant we often talk about celebrating the Lord's Supper and that is absolutely consistent with the event it recalls (even though we don't usually link the idea of celebration with "death").  

 

Our worship and celebration of God is not something we initiate. True worship is always a response to God's self-revelation ie. something He initiates by making Himself known to us. Without that revelation, worship becomes a distortion or an abberation and we end up with gods who have been created from our imagination ratherthan from God's revelation. Such distortion is not limited to those who bow down to idols of stone and wood. In the 21st century, "sophisticated" Christian Western world, there are all kinds of abberations. Can you give an example of what you believe to be a distortion of true worship and why you think that is so?   When it comes to b eing a worshipping, celebratory people, what can we learn from the following Scriptures?  

1. Mark 12/29-33__________________________________________________  

2. Isaiah 6/1-8____________________________________________________  

3. Luke 4/5-8_____________________________________________________  

4. Acts 13/1-3_____________________________________________________  

5. Romans 12/1___________________________________________________    

 

Because God is to be the single focus of our celebration, worship ought to be the most unifying experience we share together. However, worship perceptions and "styles" vary greatly and this tends to generate tension and, in some cases, division. This is especially true so far as music in worship is concerned. Of course, if worship is our highest calling, then it is a priority target of Satan so the tension and division ought not to surprise us.  

 

Which of the following factors have been most influential in shaping your understanding and practice of worship/celebration of God?  

a. Individual Upbringing - Church setting or tradition in which you were raised.  

b. Biblical Understanding - a study of both Old & New Testament expressionsof worship and celebration.  

c. Cultural Norms - "acceptable" cultural practices determining our worship expressions  

d. Personal Preferences - your own temperament, personality and nature.  

 

Worship can be expressed variously. The Biblical picture gives us no one unchangeable pattern for expressing our corporate worship. What do you note from the following verses:  

a. Psalm 46/10__________________________________________________  

b. Habakkuk 2/20________________________________________________  

c. Psalm 98/1-6_________________________________________________    

 

As you think about worship in the Church (and your Church family in particular), what word best describes your current conviction.  

Wonderful                   Shallow                    Uplifting                   Dead                         Authentic                   Traditional             Diverse                     Heartfelt                 Predictable                  Moving

 

Questions:  

[1]Why do you think the subject of worship/celebration causes tension and division in churches today?  

[2]As a group, discuss ways in which that tension can be creatively & lovingly faced and resolved.   

[3]What kind of guidelines for us all do you think would assist us in our differences if they were introduced?    

 

Although in this session we have tended to focus on the music aspect of worship, it is important to remember the definition we gave right at the beginning - "Worship is the response of our total being..." Worship is expressed in every act of love and obedience, every expression of social mercy and care, every deed of kindness done in Jesus' Name, every service offered to God's glory. In fact, the whole of our life is meant to be our worship to our God Who is worthy to receive all glory, honour and power.    

 

Please bring your session to a close by reading Revelation 5/9-14     FOR YOUR READING THIS WEEK KEY THOUGHTS - "CONSECRATION" OR "HOLINESS"  

  1. 1 Chronicles 29/1-11
  2. Isaiah 35/1-10
  3. Ephesians 5/1-21
  4. 1 Thessalonians 3/11-4/8
  5. Hebrews 12/1-14
  6. 1 Peter 1/13-2/9  
Download free ministry resources.
give us your feedback.