Vol.IX No.I Pg.7
March 1972

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

In many churches the worship seems so cold, so "matter-of-fact" or just a "form". Please give suggestions for making the worship more spiritual.


"Worship" is a feeling of respect or reverence, a frame of heart or mind, an attitude. This should be fixed in ones mind before any further discussion takes place. An act of worship is an act proceeding from or the result of that feeling.

Singing is not worship, in the strict sense, but it may be an expression of worship. Eating bread and drinking grape juice is not worship. We do this -- if indeed we do -- "in remembrance of Christ" -- and that is the worship.

All overt or observable worship has some form. The feeling of awe, reverence, thanksgiving, or praise is expressed some way; and that form will take some pattern, orderly or haphazardly. Varying the order may prevent habitual actions, but it may also create an air of uncertainty and confusion. No order, fixed or varied, will make spiritual worship. Anytime the form is substituted for the worship -- when the act is there, but the proper feeling, frame of heart or attitude is missing -- that act becomes a hollow, vain shell.

There are two ways in which today's worship may be in vain. We may ignore God's instructions (precepts and examples) regarding the means of expression -- assuming that any means we choose will suit God (MAR.7:1-7; COL.2:20-f), or we may use the means or form of expression authorized, but utterly fail to make them expressions of genuine worship in our hearts. (It is imperative that our worship to God be "truly spiritual" JOH.4:24) Often our efforts to "improve" the worship are only efforts to regulate the form, and have little or nothing to do with improving the hearts out of which true worship must come. Some react to the "cold formality" of worship by proposing bizarre emotion-stirring props. What is more "artificial" than lighting effects, "mood" music, or tricky little antiphonal songs that force participation upon some person who could not be moved by the love of God. How is the "hypocrisy of traditional services" helped by providing a better mask -- an emotional screen that can not take the place of genuine worship.

I am deeply aware of the "rut" or "habit" type of service -- and I deplore it. But the fault is not necessarily in the form, and is never altogether in the form. There are plenty of brethren who worship acceptably with "three songs, a prayer, and another song". And there are brethren who could shift the order every time they met together, and would never worship God acceptably.

Improving the worship is part and parcel of the whole job of turning people to God, getting them to partake of the divine nature. It is not the service that needs change, it is the people that must be changed to new creatures, truly converted. These will worship God acceptably.