Thursday, January 24, 2008

styles of worship

Last night we had a good discussion at home group about different styles of worship. This was a pretty good topic of discussion to help to get to know one another better. Think of it like the learning styles theory. It also reveals what are our strengths and diversity as a community.
The styles that were brought up and discussed were:
1. Nature and Beauty (Someone who appreciates the beauty of God's creation)
2. Thinker (Someone who spends time in thought and prayer)
3. Contemplate (Someone who takes time and rationalizes worship)
4. Aesthetic (someone who worships through touch, feel, sight and sound)
5. Caregiver (someone who worships through caring for others in need)
6. Activist (someone who worships through social causes)
7. Enthusiastic (someone who is just always energized to go out and win over followers)
8. Ritualistic (worship through rituals)
(There might have been a few more, but this is all I can remember)

We then needed to discuss which of these styles we were most comfortable in with the idea that we should do what ever brings us closer to God. After doing a little self analyzing, I felt like I was a little of everything except enthusiastic (most people felt the same way). This may sound bad, but I've not very good at showing my enthusiasm toward the Lord (at least to others). I attribute some of this to the fact that I was brought up in a Catholic Church were ritualism is important than enthusiasm. However since breaking away from the Catholic Church, I feel I've been pretty harsh on it. Now that I'm a little older (and hopefully wiser) I can really see the beauty in some of the rituals and how for some people can find that can be comforting.

The rest of the worship styles I feel I can fit into pretty well. I feel that I lean heavy towards the aesthetic worship style. Weather it is in the beauty of a painting from Monet or Van Gogh, or a beautiful song that hits the right chords, sight and sound can be a window into God's creation. You can hear the beauty of God in a quiet Over the Rhine song, the sound scape of Sigur Ros, the genius of Radiohead, or a spiritual charged u2 concert (which I've always said is as close to a spiritual experience as you can get).

I've found some spiritual meaning in my work with children as part activist and caregiver. Other times, post from Shakedust or Pastor Rick's sermons turn me into a thinker or contemplater. Most recently, I can really get closer to God through nature. This is largely due to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. When our group was talking this, we took a minute to listen to the wind blow through the pine trees outside. It was quiet beautiful to listen to the pines sway in the cold wind outside. Many people compare it to a whisper. Seeing some of the waterfalls around here, you realize that God is the greatest artist of all, and he takes time and detail with his work. You can travel to the top of the Columbia Gorge and take in His majesty or go down to the ocean and see His fury.

I think the real danger is getting pigeonholed in one style. If all you are is about sensory worship, do you miss the opportunities to help those in need? If all you are about is worshipping through helping others and being an activist, do you miss the chance to worship the beauty of God's creation? Does it do good to over think God's wonder that we loss all enthusiasm towards Him. If we are overly enthusiastic is it realistic to never question God? I think ideally, we need to be strong in all areas of worship.


Portland wawa said...

I agree with everything except
"If we are overly enthusiastic is it realistic to never question God?"
I am not sure that questioning God is something we are supposed to do, seeing He is omniscent, all-knowing, etc...
But you had some very interesting points. Nice blog.

shakedust said...

"I think the real danger is getting pigeonholed in one style."

I really like this statement. It is something that I struggle with because I generally only fit in two or three (at the most) categories.

f o r r e s t said...

interesting discussion and good thoughts.

GoldenSunrise said...

Growing up in the church with a "worship" service, I still often forget that we worship God with how we live. Worship is more than the songs, lifting our hands, and prayer on Sunday mornings. It is hard for me to think outside the box.

T said...

Good food for thought. I can't say that I would fit all categories all the time, but I can see where different circumstances bring out different style of worship in me.

f o r r e s t said...

"I feel that I lean heavy towards the aesthetic worship style. Weather it is in the beauty of a painting from Monet or Van Gogh, or a beautiful song that hits the right chords, sight and sound can be a window into God's creation. You can hear the beauty of God in a quiet Over the Rhine song, the sound scape of Sigur Ros, the genius of Radiohead, or a spiritual charged u2 concert"

-You took these words right out of my mouth and I couldn't have said it better. I agree wholeheartedly or at least I think we connect and worship at the same level.

Roaming Writer said...

This is an interesting discussion. I hadn't thought of all those things as worship - some of them were new ideas for me, while some I knew. I never thought of my urge to take care of people at times is an outgrowth of my dedication/pursuit of God. I like that idea plus the more traditional ideas of worship and contemplation too.

Bert Bell Poetry said...

I enjoyed reading this piece on "styles of worship"

I have some concerns about it though, based upon my personal walk with God.

I think God expects us to question him because he created us with curious minds. I have even heard pastors say it's fine to be mad at God. He created us with finite minds, and God is infinite, so we can't possibly understand why he allows things to happen, like natural disasters that kill thousands upon thousands of people, and leave thousands wounded and homeless. We may express anger with God when someone we love dies in spite of all the prayers we have supplicated, asking Him to not let our loved one die.

I remember once The Rev. Billy Graham was asked by Larry King what would be the first question he would ask God when he first gets to heaven. Billy Graham said, "I will ask Him why there is so much suffering."

The bible tells us God is Love and Truth. His love for us is infinite, and all of the sins of mankind are forgiven except for one, and that is to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, it is up to each of us to access and receive His forgiveness.

What I meant when I said I had some concerns is that the bible makes it quite clear that the only way we can get close to God is through his Son, Jesus Christ, because it was Jesus who gave his life as a ransom for the sins of all mankind, past, present and future. However, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the father except through me."

And so, what bothered me, and I may be misconstruing things here, was that there was no mention of the cross upon which Christ died for our sins, and paid the penalty for all of our sins with his own suffering and his blood on that day at Calvary.

The bible tells us that the only place God can be found is in the person of Jesus Christ, and that we cannot go to heaven if we have not been made righteous, which we can only achieve by the blood of Christ. God is so holy, and so pure that he cannot abide sin and cannot be in the presence of it. That is why we need to accept Christ as our Savior so we will be completely redeemed and righteous when we pass into the next life.

People may say that if God loves us so much, why would he let us go to hell for all eternity? The answer is that He gave us the choice to either choose His kingdom, or hell. We choose the kingdom of heaven by surrendering to Christ and entering into personal relationship with him. It’s entirely our decision; not God’s. He created us to live in eternal relationship with him, but if we choose not to accept the gift of eternal life in heaven that Jesus paid for on the cross, then we are choosing the alternative ourselves. If we do choose the alternative (hell) by not coming to faith in Christ, God will undoubtedly be very disappointed, but he will let us choose our own destiny.

So to me, there is no point in trying to get close to God through the beautiful things he has created. We cannot get close to God by seeing and appreciating a beautiful sunset, for example, even if we praise Him for it. We can only get close to God, according to His word in the bible, by accepting Christ as our Savior and confessing our sins to him and our love of him, and repenting (turning away) from our worldly sins and acknowledging his death on the cross and his resurrection.

We don't need to do this through an intermediator like a priest. We can do it in the privacy of our own rooms and talk directly to the Father who loves unconditionally.

The bible tells us that if, at the time of our death, we have not committed our lives to The Lord Jesus Christ, as I have just tried to explain, we will never see the kingdom of heaven.

Finally, it’s very uplifting to me to see others reaching out to God. Thank you for this inspiring post.