What is Worship? (Live Like We Sing)

Today’s post is written by Shawn Wallace. He’s a bit of a tech gadget/nerd. He has a wife, a daughter, a cat and a dog. We stumbled across him because he links to us – shawnw.org.

You know how it goes. Sunday church finishes and we walk out feeling good about ourselves. “Wow, the music was great,” or “Pastor was spot on today in his teaching.” We feel revived and refreshed.

And, just as quickly as worship began, it’s over. We go home, have lunch with the family, maybe mow the lawn, or go to the park, or watch the game.

We stroll into work on Monday and grind out another week. A week just like last week. A week just like any week a year ago or ten years ago, our mind venturing no further than our own tiny sphere of influence.

Friday rolls around and we’re glad the week is over. We blow through Saturday with festivals and shopping and movies and relaxing. Before we know it, we’re putting on our Sunday best and heading to worship.

Repeat, ad nauseum.

There’s a Matt Redman song that goes like this:

Let worship be the fuel for mission’s flame
We’re going with a passion for Your name
We’re going for we care about Your praise
Send us out

But it doesn’t end there. Tim Hughes sings this:

We must go
Live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward
Keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go

But what does that mean, “Send us out?” What does “We must go” mean?

It means it’s time to live like we sing.

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” –Matthew 10:42 (NIV)

When Matt Redman says worship, he’s talking about worship in church. Singing. Raising hands. Kneeling before God. Beating our chest and groaning to the Creator of the universe and seeking the face of Christ.

People in a crowded church singing and lifting their hands to praise God

But worship doesn’t end with that last up tempo song. Worship doesn’t end when you drop your tithe check in the offering basket. Worship doesn’t end when you help clean up after the pot luck. Worship doesn’t end when you pile the kids in the van to head home.

That’s when worship begins.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” –James 1:27 (NIV)

“To look after orphans and widows…”

Compassion’s mission is to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. And whether we want to admit it or not, the children they help get sponsored have been orphaned. Orphaned by the world. They’re the forgotten. Living in slums and shanty towns. Surviving in conditions we’d quickly write off as lethal.

Compassion helps to stir the world’s memory, bringing to the surface the forgotten so they become the known. We see faces and names. Their eyes cry out, “don’t forget me.”

It’s time we step out on mission. It’s time to go with a passion for His name and to stand beside the broken. It’s time to look after widows and orphans. It’s time to live like we sing.

It’s time to worship.

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16 Comments |Add a comment

  1. A. August 22, 2008

    Definitely an amen!

  2. Heather August 21, 2008

    Beautiful post Shawn! I think that this is all too common with many Christians and church goers. Going to church and the camraderie with other Christians gets you all fired up for God but once you get back into the daily grind and hostile non believers life really takes a toll on you..Thanks for the reminder Shawn!

  3. Kees Boer August 21, 2008

    I like what Michael W. Smith says about it. Sponsoring a child is an act of worship. In many ways, I feel that the songs that are sung in churches fall more under the category of prayer than under the category of worship, that is if I had to differentiate between the two. (I’m kind of splitting Ecclesiological hairs here) LOL!


  4. Marci Carpentier August 21, 2008

    Thank you Shawn; that was beautiful.

  5. Juli Jarvis August 21, 2008

    I agree — and I feel just like Compassion Dave when I get to volunteer behind a Compassion table to sign up new sponsors. It was particularly evident at a recent Jeremy Camp concert, where we were on the baseball field near the stage and the teens were literally running to our table to sponsor children while the worship [in the form of music] was going on. I was thinking, “Now this is true worship.” I would drive 6 hours again to see this happen anytime!

    Then we saw the kids that were leaving church in a refurbished ambulance [license plate Luke 911] to take food and supplies to the homeless in their community [I wrote about it and posted photos on my blog] and I thought, “This is true servant leadership…and this is what it means to worship!” They said to us, “We know how to find them. We know where they live. We know where they sleep.” Worship and love in action!

  6. Wealthy Bob August 21, 2008

    My name’s Wealthy Bob (or so I call myself) and I just wanted to introduce myself since I just came across your blog and actually read what you posted! You’ve been bookmarked, I’ll definitely be back.

  7. Jill Foley August 21, 2008

    You hit the nail right on the head! This is awesome and I hope oodles of people read this and ingest it! (including myself).

    I had a little dose of “doing what I sing” yesterday morning when my 3 1/2 yr. old wanted to bake cookies for the neighbors. It was 7:30 am…too early for baking cookies. But the Veggie Tales were singing “love your neighbor….” and so it was a teachable moment and we grabbed it!

  8. Vicki Small August 21, 2008

    Interesting timing…for a week and a half, I’ve been haunted by the reality that I sing one way, and when the chips are down, I live another way. Case in point: Learning on a Saturday that my niece had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer left me thoroughly unable to sing anything in church, on Sunday. The first song was “Blessed be Your name,” which I usually sing with gusto. But here I was when the darkness was closing in, when the world was not all that it should be, and I couldn’t begin to bless His name. I was too mad at Him, not to mention the crying (I can’t sing and cry at the same time).

    You should hear me sing, when things are going well, though.

  9. Beth Ingersoll August 21, 2008


  10. Compassion dave August 21, 2008

    Its weird, but I feel closest to our Lord (in worship) when I am serving Him, and less so in Sunday worship.

    I am not saying I don’t feel close to Him on Sundays (or that there is something wrong with my Sunday worship), just that I feel closer when I am doing His will.

    I am so glad that that often becomes manifest while standing behind a Compassion table and finding sponsors for children.

  11. Scot Longyear August 21, 2008

    Dead on man. Dead on.

  12. Steve Dean August 21, 2008

    Great Post Shawn
    Thank You for that

  13. Gin August 21, 2008

    Great post Shawn. I read something about how we go to church and talk to God but we often leave Him there. I am guilty of this at times and I must remind myself that God is always with me and I should always be with Him. It’s not enough to talk to Him in church and leave Him there. Thanks for this great reminder! Many Blessings!

  14. Toby August 21, 2008

    Spot on brother! Well thought, well written, well done!

  15. Sarah August 21, 2008

    I really like that- “it’s time to live like we sing”. Very well written!

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