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