Worship 101 – The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How — Part I

I just realized that this is a great forum for reviewing my first sermon I ever preached – my philosophy of worship! It’s pretty long, so I’m gonna break it into three parts. And if you’d like to listen along, here’s the mp3 audio of the whole sermon as well:


So there are a few people’s thoughts on worship… I’d like to share my thoughts on the subject!

We’re going to take a look at the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of Worship. Let’s start with the “who.” No, not “who do we worship”, but “who worships.”


The truth is: Everybody is a worshiper. Every one worships. It’s just a matter of who or what you worship.

  • Have you seen footage of Beatles concerts? Or Elvis?
  • Have you known any avid sports fans?
  • Or what about the work-a-holic who puts his job before his family?

“A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let’s define worship. Here’s the “What” question:



“Worship is simply counting God Worthy; proclaiming His Worth-Ship”

“Worship is the response of all that I am, to all that God is.” Or to expand on that:

“Worship is the response of all that I am, say and do to all that God is says and does.” – David W. Miller

Or, more poetically put:

“Worship is a thirsty land crying out for rain, a candle in the act of being kindled, a drop of water in quest of the ocean, a voice in the night calling for help, a soul standing in awe before the mystery of the universe, time flowing into eternity, a man climbing the altar stairs to God.” – Dwight Bradley

In answering the “What” question we can’t just stop at the definition, so let’s take a deeper look.

John 4:22-23 – “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” – NIV

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself – Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” – The Message

Worship is…

  1. A. Intellectual – “worshiping in truth”

If we’re supposed to worship in truth, we’d better be paying attention to what is truth and what is not. We need to use our minds.

Mark 12:3 – “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

Psalm 119:27 – “help me understand the meaning of your commandments and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.”

Deut. 6:4-9 – “ “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Having God’s word on your mind all the time…that is worship. That is counting God worthy; worthy of your attention, worthy of your concentration, your focus.

Rick Warren says: “If worship is mindless, it is meaningless.”

I’ve Got Brains = Our God Reigns

Here are mice and me” = Here am I, send me

Pizza passes understanding” = Peace that passes understanding down in my heart

That saved a Wrench like me” = Saved a Wretch like me

Obviously if you’re singing words like these to a worship song your mind is not fully engaged and I would suggest that you’re not worshiping in truth.

  1. Emotional – “worshiping in spirit

Matt. 15:8-9a – “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain.” NLT says “Their worship is a farce.”

Ps. 51:17 – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

1 Chronicles 21:24 “I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing.”

Isaiah 1:11 – “the multitude of your sacrifices – what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Is. 1:13 “Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me…” vs. 16 “…Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

1 Sam 15:22 (Samuel is rebuking Saul and he says “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice.”

Hosea 6:6 – “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burn offerings.”

Rick Warren says: “Heartless praise is not praise at all! It is worthless, an insult to God.”

If you don’t FEEL something while worshiping, maybe you’re not really worshiping.

  1. Physical – “with all your strength

God wants us to get our whole self into the worship, including our bodies.

Romans 12:1 says to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Sometimes it feels a little weird to try and include your body in worship, but if you think about it it’s only natural.

Usually when I am particularly excited or emotional, it shows in my body. It’s hard for me to hide my facial expressions. When I wanted to express my love for Carla, and ask her to marry me, I got down on one knee. I was very conscious about my physical position. It was intentional. What we do with our bodies communicates what we’re feeling.

The same thing should happen when we worship God.

– Close your eyes, raise a hand, sway a little, bow your head, get on your knees, lay prostrate (Deut. 9:18)

Tune in a few days from now for Part II of “Worship 101 – The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How”

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