What is Worship?

One of my hopes with this blog is to share why and how we worship on Sunday. But, to do that we have to define what worship is.


Worship is far more than just music. I broadly define worship as the action of giving praise to something. I’d argue that we all worship something.

A good litmus test for what you worship is to keep track of what you spend your money on, what you can’t help talking about, and how you spend your time.

Obviously for religious folks the primary object of worship should be their god. For the Christian that’s the God revealed to us in the trinity: God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Any action of the Christian that gives praise or glory to God could be considered “worship.” But, that’s way too broad.

For the purpose of this blog I want to focus on one type of worship: “Gathered Worship.”

“Gathered Worship” is all the songs, prayers, scripture readings, sermon, offering, dismissal, etc of any given Sunday morning. The working definition of worship I use when choosing songs, scriptures, and prayers is this:

“Christian worship is the response of God’s redeemed people to His self-revelation that exalts God’s glory in Christ in our minds, affections, and wills, in the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Bob Kauflin*

“Gathered Worship” is different than “Personal Worship.” I don’t ever want to dictate what an individual would do in their own personal devotion. But, I would hope that individuals would take their cue from what we do in community. Because God exists primarily in community we should also exist primarily in community.

But, sometimes a song leads an indivual in their private devotion to a place of worship – which is awesome! – but it wouldn’t be appropriate for “Gathered Worship” for various reasons (too difficult for corporate singing, too vague, too specific, musically innappropriate for the context**) and this is a fine line to walk.

When I talk about “Worship” here I’ll almost always mean “Gathered Worship.” If I’m talking about “Personal Worhsip” I’ll do my best to note that.

For further reading I’d suggest checking out these websites:




To find out how I plan a worship service check out this post:

What We Talk About When We Talk About Worship Part 1

*This definition is from Kauflin’s blog series on defining worship. If you’re interested in learning more I suggest reading all five parts. Here’s the first:


**Examples of contextually innapropriate music: hip-hop at a cowboy church; hymns and organ in a rock oriented service; electronic dance music at a traditional service

What is Worship?

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