My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As a twenty-first century Christian and a Baptist, when someone says the word worship, I find myself often thinking of the song service that is the prelude to the sermons that I hear on Sunday morning. Yet, worship is an honor of God, a bowing down of ourselves to someone who is worthy. I admit that I don’t often feel that on Sunday mornings, as each time I find myself sinking into an attitude of worship, I am distracted by welcomes from the pastor, handshakes, etc. So, obviously, worship cannot be summed up in a Sunday morning service.
So, what is worship anyway?
Warren Wiersbe takes over 200 pages and eighteen chapters to define worship and to consider what constitutes worship and what does not. He divides his book into five sections. The first section is a three chapter examination of what actually worship is defined as. The remaining four parts emphasize that worship involves wonder, witness, warfare and wisdom.
In the section on wonder, we are reminded that when we worship, we are not being entertained. Instead, we are encountering God and leaving forever transformed. We see the different aspects of our God to leave us in wonder, consider idolatry and look at worshippers who leave their encounters with God forever changed.
When we discuss worship as a witness, we learn more about what it means to witness to God and to each other through our worship. We are also exposed to the idea that our teaching and preaching are acts of worship. We realize the relationship between worship and the arts and how artistic expression and worship are intertwined.
The section on worship as warfare reminds us that we are part of a spiritual army. We are reminded that we are locked into spiritual warfare and we realize that we must make a choice to worship God. Sometimes we fail to make the correct choice, and I felt more than a little conviction about that as I read.
The final section on wisdom in worship reminds us that it is wise to take worship seriously. There are practical tips for pastors and music ministers to help create an atmosphere of worship in church. We also discuss the importance of tradition in worship.
This is a book that I’ve been reading slowly, bit-by-bit. Real Worship is an easy read, but the book is densely packed with both examples and scripture references, making this a goldmine of information and wisdom for the reader interested in worship.
I found myself feeling nostalgic as I read it, concerned that my children will never understand what true Biblical worship through song is. The trend right now is for more repeatable and simple choruses and away from the theologically packed hymns of yesteryear, and I think we and our children both suffer for the shallowness of what is called worship now. I also find that worship is much more deep and much more of a natural outflowing of the depth of my personal knowledge of God than I have been previously willing to acknowledge. Either way, I left this book feeling both enriched by how meaningful worship is and discouraged by how often I fall short of real worship.