What is Worship?

I heard it explained that worship is the combination of internal essence and external expression. In Matthew 15, Jesus said the people honored them with their lips but their hearts were far from Him. Their worship was being done in vain. That is external expression without an internal essence; they had the acts down, but there was nothing going on inside their hearts. We can do a million good deeds each day, whether at work or at home, wherever we find ourselves; we can come to church every weekend and sing all the songs and take notes on the message; but if nothing is going on inside our hearts, it’s not worship—it’s merely external. Jesus was talking to the Pharisees and some other teachers when he called them out and said that their hearts were far from Him. 


We need to know God and have a grasp on His value in order to truly worship Him. God’s worth is infinite, so our worship is valuing Him above all other things. When we begin to understand how sinful we really are, we begin to understand how undeserving of Christ’s sacrifice we really are. We’re reminded that Christ died and rose again in spite of us, not because of us. 


Worship is a response of the heart to the knowledge of the mind.


Worship is to put God’s glory on display, to lift up His name. In bible times, they used to sacrifice bulls and goats to honor God and show His worth. In Romans 12:1-6, we are told to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God. We all have different talents and abilities, given to us to be used for God’s glory, but we make up one body of believers. We all contribute something different. 


Something I think that all of us struggle with from time to time is that we make worship about us. We need to remind ourselves that our worship is not based off of our current life situations, our problems, our sicknesses, even our victories and blessings, and worship certainly has nothing to do with our preferences. The more we focus on these things, the less we worship. Here’s a way to check where you’re focusing: When you come in for a church service, are you more focused on what songs are being played, than you are focused on God and what He’s done for you? Are you caught up in the plans you have after church, the things you need to get done, the bills you need to pay? Or are you committed in that moment fully to God?


One of the greatest struggles of being on the stage is that it’s so easy to make the worship about yourself. One day, I was trying to figure out what to do in order to fight those feelings, and I was reminded of this verse that God had revealed to me previously: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NKJV). We are nothing without God’s grace. Ephesians 2 reminds us that we were once dead in our sins, but we are made alive in Christ. We are saved by grace through faith. “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Seeing the world through that lens is worship. Recognizing that all things in our life are given to us by the grace of God and operating through that lens, is worship. It keeps the focus on God and not on ourselves. That’s true worship. 


“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”John 4:23-24 (NIV)




Adam LaVerdiere

Worship Director / Central Church