All of Life is Worship1
Robert, our lead worshiper, has served faithfully for our entire existence. We are grateful that he has been there with us the whole way. His thoughts below on how our music fits with the vision of our church are challenging.
One of the parts of our new values statement here at the theGathering is that we are “rooted in worship.” This, of course, is based on the truth that all life is worship, that everything we do—be it our jobs, school, interactions with friends, literally everything—should reflect the truth about who God is: that he is holy and full of grace, but also powerful, jealous and desiring of our praise. The music of our church is an element that we look at a continuation of that idea, not just the main output of our worship. It is vital, then, that the music choices aren’t just sonically or aesthetically driven. Churches have broken up over this, and while the belief certainly holds that you can’t please everyone, what the songs sound like are secondary to what the songs are saying.
Since the songs are an extension of this idea of “life as worship,” they must be rooted in Scripture. We don’t want our worship to sound like what God called out his people for in Isaiah: “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught’” (Isaiah 29:13). Instead, we want for our worship to reflect the truth about who God is. This isn’t “self-centric” worship, where it’s all about what we want, about what God can do for us, or about our feelings; rather, worship is Christocentric, focused on who God is, on his power, on his grace and on our one and only appropriate response—his praise.
The Bible is clear about what our worship is to look like. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that “since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29). John tells us that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth,” while Paul tells us that we don’t have any other way to respond: “What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say ‘Amen’ to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?” (John 4:24; 1 Corinthians 14:15-16).
This is why the songs we sing at theGathering are all Biblically based and Christocentric, and why they look to express our response to his glory, to his power, to his grace rather than the “self-centric” view of other songs that don’t make the cut. This is how we ensure that this part of our worship gatherings is just as rooted in Scripture as the messages are. This is an essential part of who we are, an unshakable, nonnegotiable truth of our church’s existence.