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Chat About Worship (feat. Peter Ong)

Much ado about worship these days…and rightfully so, it’s a kaleidoscopic subject.

Click here for a good sample of articles from Billy Park, and then my last post, “You Don’t Even Know Hymn…

Here Peter Ong and David Park share some thoughts on the topic. Feel free to jump in the conversation, we know this happens at a church near you. 🙂


ExportJoy: thanks for the comment on the blog

Peter Ong: i had a heated debate with a pastor about this

ExportJoy: really?

Peter Ong: yeah, he said that the idea of worship is a corporate expression and all these “I” this

ExportJoy: i understand that…so, do the psalms not qualify as worship? there’s a lot of “i” going on in the psalms. i think the definition and categories of worship can be painted much broader than that. there is individual and corporate worship. much as there are prayers that we all know, ie. the Lord’s Prayer, as well as prayers that we speak in our quiet times that are unscripted and improvised.

Peter Ong: that is what i expressed, but i think his idea was that the psalms were “solo” pieces. there is this element of eroticism (self love) that disturbs some people in the songs

Exportjoy: yeah…i understand. there are songs that are theologically soft, but not all of them are like that. and also to complicate the matter is that most of the laity are not theologians, some of those songs are very foundational in understanding God’s love for them. just like they teach you simple songs when you start piano. not everybody starts off with rachmaninoff

Peter Ong: agreed, but even if you were theologian, which some churches have worship pastors, i think that it is critical to understand the tier at where that heart is. when i spoke to this pastor…he rebuked me, but I told him that I believe that worship is boundless as language and as long as the direction is going up and in that is “theologically” sound, but at the end of the day

ExportJoy: i think you and i may view it differently just because we’re looking at it more with grace, that God accepts our hearts more than the melody or the words, but i think there is always the notion that this should lead to a standard and that is very difficult for people to let go of

Peter Ong: but I beilieve that there is an insidious element to it, as if directing lines

ExportJoy: to which side

Peter Ong: of what is “correct” and what is considered to be [the] “winning” way. like we designate these doctrines to set boundaries of who is right or wrong, not really to help or nurture, but to establish a “self” kingdom mentality

ExportJoy: that’s the problem. i agree with you, even if we have a “worship pastor”, does that mean that he’s definitive of what worship is? and how it happens? and what words we use?

Peter Ong: it makes me sad.

ExportJoy: i believe that we need to be encouraged to see all sides of the issue, that worship is for God, that we declare him worthy. yes, we can sin in both ways, like you said, we break all the rules, or we keep them [meticulously] — ultimately to glorify ourselves. but the “right way” is to be broken ourselves that’s where honest worship comes from, that i am broken and even if i were to follow all the rules, i would still be broken, i would need Jesus. I would need a savior

Peter Ong: but what does needing a savior do?

ExportJoy: isn’t that the heart of worship? declaring that i need a savior and my gratitude for that? isn’t it both a response, and a declaration? isn’t it an acknowledgement that only God is worthy?did i miss the point?

Peter Ong: i am wrestling through that point

ExportJoy: what are your thoughts on the goal of worship?

Peter Ong: i like the part about a response and declaration. worship=esteeming worth…which leads to acknowledgement…which leads to presence…experiencing the working of the Holy Spirit through creative art.

ExportJoy: hmmm, yes, “he inhabits the praises of his people”. that is a wonderful dimension to worship and i think it’s a definition that is broad enough to fit in the simple and erudite. to me, it doesn’t matter whether we sing hymns or david crowder songs, it really doesn’t. it matters on my heart being softened. just the act of lifting my voice and realizing that i don’t deserve to stand there without his grace. it bothers me when people focus to much on the boundaries, because we could pay a great deal of attention to the components of worship and never worship. going back to the analogy of music, i could play all the notes on the piano, but the point is not to play the notes, but to play the music, to elicit the passionate song. the point is not to practice and get the right posture, and whether or not i’m sitting correctly. the point is to get that music out…the real melody. all of the discipline is for that. but if i don’t fall in love the music first, i don’t even care about the discipline

Peter Ong: yeah. it says a lot about the converging of the two

ExportJoy: the passion for God fuels the theology, not the other way around

Peter Ong: amen


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

7 responses to “Chat About Worship (feat. Peter Ong)

  1. I couldn’t disgree with the last comment (beside “amen”) more. How can you have passion for a God you know little about? It’s like the old Doors’ song (if you know who they are): “Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name.” This is not love. It’s fleshy passion or infatuation.

    It’s theology that leads to doxology not passion that leads to right understanding. I can support passion that follows right understanding, not the other way around. Do you wonder why so many young people jump up and down in a worship concert yet there is no visible fruit in their lives of what they so “passionately” sing about.

  2. dpark

    I see your point, but the notion that a full understanding is necessary for the passion to start is not always true either. For instance, in the analogy of music, I fell in love with music long before I knew music theory and studying an instrument seriously. My degree of taking the instrument seriously grew out of my passion to get the music right.
    Those certain intangible aspects that drew my interest helped me to pursue tangible disciplines so that I could reproduce that intangible. And part of the understanding for me is when you switch the metaphor to something like “love”, I can honestly say that I had a incomplete understanding of love before I got married, but that I long desired it and to know it better before I could even venture to say that I understood it.
    Sure, young people do jump up and down and worship “passionately” before they understand it without any visible fruit. I’m sure I could say the same for legions of young people that sit through bible studies as well in terms of fruitful living. But ultimately worship is when the fuel is put to fire. Both elements have to be present then. Perhaps this is the chicken and the egg argument — God is attractive to me, so I pursue understanding. Or I understand God more, so He is attractive to me.
    Either way, I’m fine with, as long as God gets the glory.

  3. dpark

    Oh yes, and keep in mind that I'm speaking in the context of the theology of worship. I'm not speaking from the perspective of the "Hello, I love you — won't you tell me your name." The theology necessary to worship is pretty simple. "God is bigger than me, and I need him. People have said you are deliverer. The bible says you are a deliverer. Can you deliver me". That's pretty much all I need to sign off on in order to enter into worship, no? Or would you say that there's more to it than that…? That's an interesting question…If you say that theology precedes doxology — how much theology do I need, before I can get my praise on?

  4. Let me add that theology without doxology is just as bad as passion without theology. We need light (truth) and heat (affections).
    In answer to your question, how much do we need to understand in order to worship? Not much. Sometimes an awareness of our sin is enough — “Have mercy on me a sinner?” (Luke 18:13). I’m not saying that you have to get your theological ducks all lined up in order to worship properly. What I am saying is that biblical worship has some basic criteria — right view of ourselves (creature / sinner) of God (Creator / Holy / Merciful) and of Christ (Savior of sinners through the cross). This is theology – not mechanical theology but living theology. We need to be aware of who God is and what he has done. This awareness is what the proper motivation for worship. We are not to call every movement of our passions – worship. Remember, idolatry is a form of worship (false worship). We should take care to worship in the way that God has prescribed rather than out of our own desires and wills.

    Having said that, I am glad that you desire to worship God freely and passionately. May God deepen your worship in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Have a great day, brother.

  5. Peter

    i wonder in the midst of all of this posturing of theology and when faced with Pentecost would be considered passion without theology. It is as if there is no possible expression of worship without a sense of knowing who God is…but the question that is posed for me is if worship could happen without understanding in the cerebral sense who God is…Paul expresses that the seeker can experience God in the worship of his people…but please do not misunderstand this as a license for us to worship without any pursuit of theology…it is our understanding that deepens our expression…but, just that I find the stance of having this idea of “proper” is not really a form of nurturing of what are the possibilities of God’s work in His central work of redemption…He speaks our heart language in the midst of our doxology. He speaks to those in the midst of an absence of full revelation of who He is or even the general narrative of redemption (thus Zacheus, the paralytic whose sins are forgiven…) but we have access to such a wealth of theology which is a critical and generous outpouring of His to enrich our faith…but I wonder what is to be said to those around the world who are limited to hand written bibles…or what would we say to those who have never heard of Calvin, Barth, Tillich, Luther, etc. To those whose seminaries are prisons, or torturing as their theology…do we say…”hey, do you know God?” Again, I want to emphasize that theology is primary for the sake of confronting our fallen tendencies to lean on our own whims and appetites or perversions of doctrine that degrade to heresy…We are not fighting heresy when we sing “Draw Me Close” and I believe neither our appetites nor theology will compare to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. One insufficient analogy that comes to my mind is as if we are all cancer survivors and one person says…”wow, I am so thankful that I am alive…” and another survivor goes “hey, do you know how you are saved? do you know the oncological aspects of your treatment that is moving in the cells of your body? I do, I have gone to medical school and know the process…Until you do…you are really not thankful…(with a smug smile)” I know, I am gonna get some ribbing for this…but it just seems a bit ridiculous to me.

    I want to challenge the notion of “jumping up and down” and the evaluation of their fruit is a dangerous one…the journey of the pilgrim is not a series of snapshots that are to be seen seperately but rather a mosaic of the story that is unfolding. I have seen youth “jumped up and down” and have seen them as instruments of God’s redemption, I have seen them tithe their allowances, I have seen them part of church plants, I have seen them weep over the nation in prayer and fasting…so I just want us to be careful of making these conclusions…It does no justice to the working of the Spirit in the lives of our brothers and sisters and borders who sometimes are a “work in progress” or even more dangerous, make us one who judges who I find myself robs God of His due judgement.

    • gnxc ⋅

      Is anyone about to answer / challenge his post? .. Just that it’s been about 3 years already, heh.
      Be great if someone could, I’m really interested in hearing more views, thanks!

  6. gnofam lantame ⋅

    This is my testimonial,I’am GNOFAM LantameI am 32 yrs old, born in Lomé capitale fo Togo. I became christian in year 1975 at Pentecost church of Togo, and I have been baptized in the same year. I was member of musical group specially trumpetist .As mecanician by proffession, God was calling me but I I did not know it antill a prophet of Gof saw a me and tell me verbaly that God is calling me, from there he directed me to foursquare Gospel church for my ground training, it was year 2000.So we do rural evangelism, from village to village and from town to town, and in year 2003 I have been enroled in bible school named IBM “Bible Institute” Metamorphose” from 2003-2005. In janurary 2007 I Foundeda prayer center named: Centre de Prière d’Intercession et d’Evangélisation “Cité de Dieu” I maried and have a girl.So as I just start it I need your spiritual support and phisic , specially in prayer for my self and my familly for my ministry and for my country. Thank your .Your sincere GNOFAM lantamemober phone 00228918066349 AV AUGUSTINO PA DE SOUZAPO BOX : 61884 49 AV AUGUSTINO PA DE SOUZA LOME Togo

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