This is the first in a series of notes that will appear in the bulletin, in the next while, on the topic of worship.
Worship is, above everything, an activity in which a dialogue takes place between God and the worshipers. In worship, God speaks to the worshipers through the Bible, and the worshipers speak to God through their prayers. Worship is therefore neither a form of entertainment (that is, those who lead worship do not put on a performance for the congregation), nor a form of education (although learning can take place within a worship service).
Different styles of worship appeal to different people. Some people, for example, prefer worship that engages the emotions, while others prefer worship that engages the mind. Some prefer worship that is informal and spontaneous, while others prefer worship that is structured and dignified. Some prefer worship that is traditional, while others prefer worship that is innovative. The challenge for leaders of worship, therefore, is to include in each service elements that appeal to a variety of tastes.
The worship service is called a “service” because worship is a way in which we serve God. The word “service” comes from the Greek word leitourgia, from which we also get our English word “liturgy”. Strictly speaking, then, all worship is “liturgical”, not just worship that is traditional or elaborate. In other words, there is a wide variety of liturgy in the Christian church; different styles appeal to different people.
Worship can be either public (involving many people) or private (involving just one person, or a very small group of people). Both public and private worship are important and necessary; neither is more important than the other.