25th Sep, 2009

Worship Notes from Kevin Norris

In a wonderful conversation with a long-term missionary from New Zealand, Kevin Norris, this afternoon we discussed “worship.” He pointed me to this brief article he wrote and published at his website. I think he succinctly argues for a distinction about what God reveals about “worship” in the bible in a healthy way. I’m curious if his words strike any chords in others. He is writing in the context of Youth With A Mission (YWAM), but the revelation he has received in this arena applies universally.

Why Calling Work “Worship” does not solve the Sacred-Secular Dichotomy

by Kevin Norris

 

As YWAM has grown over the years, a problem has emerged with our attitudes towards practical service. We have carried on the popular belief that evangelism, prayer, worship, etc. are serving God, while housework, business, maintenance, etc. are secular (non-holy) endeavours.

 

This is shown in the difficulty of staffing practical ministries such as kitchen service, accounting, grounds maintenance, construction, etc. Those involved in these areas often feel second rate for two reasons. Firstly, they haven’t adequately gained God’s perspective on practical service and secondly, because YWAM’s main emphasis is missions (and rightly so), those involved in evangelism and missions “out there” are the ones who are heard from mostly in public meetings.

 

One answer put forward to solve this dichotomy has been to say that everything we do is worship – i.e. work is worship. When people catch on to this they seem to feel really happy about their practical work and begin to sense that it has value. Why is this? I believe this works because using the word worship puts a connotation of “holy” or “valuable” on their work. Why does calling work “worship” help? It’s because deep down we believe that worship is a holy occupation and if work is worship then work is holy.

 

Why don’t we believe that work is holy and valuable to the Lord in and of itself? . . . . If we have to call it worship to make it valuable, we are calling on the idea that worship is somehow more valuable and that attaching the word to daily tasks will somehow sanctify these more mundane activities. [In fact, by so doing we are demonstrating that we still believe in a sacred-secular dichotomy rather than recognizing that God calls us to a holy life.]

 

If we say that everything we do (our work) is worship then we fall into the trap of over-generalizing the meaning of worship, and we lose the distinctives of what the bible calls worship and therefore are in danger of trivializing worship.

 

Calling our work “worship” is only a bandaid to the problem. A better way to solve the sacred-secular is to get God’s perspective of the material world – to see what He thinks of practical tasks and be guided by that revelation in all that we do.

 

Then worship can be seen for what it is,and have its rightful place among all the other holy and valuable activities that we engage in.

Responses

Hello

I have question if you can reply please about article written by paul tripp

Paul tripp says : WORSHIP AS AN IDENTITY

When we read Romans 1:25, I think our immediate tendency is to find practical ways to “worship and serve” God more. For example, we look for areas where we can spend less money and time on us and commit that money and time to the ministry of the local church.

I want to encourage those actions, because they’re biblical, but you need to consider your worship as an identity before you think of it as an activity. You, the worshiper, are always attaching your identity – your meaning, well-being and sense of purpose – to something or someone. And where a worshiper finds his or her identity, there they’ll find practical ways to worship.

Another way of saying that is this: something, or someone, is always ruling the heart of a worshiper. Since the Bible says the heart is the control center of the human being, whatever rules your heart will automatically exercise control over your desires, thoughts, words and actions what controls your heart will control your behavior and he gives example of picnic illustration:

Paul tripp says: Here’s an example of worship that has nothing to do with religious activity. Your friend is hosting a picnic and everyone in the neighborhood is invited. Whether you know it or not, you have named popularity as a god in your life, and you live for the social acceptance of others.

Everything you do and everything you say at that picnic will be an attempt to get people to listen to your stories, laugh at your jokes and spread the glory of your character to others in the neighborhood. If you feel as if you were the center of attention, the picnic would be a success! But if you feel ignored, or if someone else takes the spotlight, the picnic is a disappointment, and that other person is now your enemy!

Go back to that picnic illustration. If you’re worshiping God in that moment, you won’t be concerned about your personal status; you’ll have a compassionate heart and you’ll use those conversations and interactions as opportunities for ministry. But if you exchange the worship of God for worship of social popularity, you’ll look for every opportunity to make those conversations and interactions about you.

You see, that picnic has nothing to do with religious activity and everything to do with worship. You didn’t put on your Sunday clothes and drive to church, but you surely worshiped! We must expand our definition of worship to everything we do and everything we say.

My question is to clarify for me concerning the idea that paul tripp is saying that “worship is what controls your heart therefore what controls your heart will control your behaviour actions and therefore everything we do and say is worship”?

Please reply because I am confused on this question which paul tripp is trying to prove that everything we do is worship!!

Best Regards,
Johnny

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