A long-held premise:
There is no more familial, encouraged, edified state than that which comes from any group’s having worshipped God authentically and deeply together.
Put more succinctly, if less poetically: genuinely fulfilling horizontal expressions emanate from authentic vertical expressions.
Stated negatively: the group that makes edification and encouragement its chief goal will fail. Moreover, the church that puts all its worship eggs in a basket labeled “celebration” will, over the long haul, also fail.
Framed institutionally, for the sake of any who might have difficulty seeing outside the bonds of what happens in church buildings on Sunday mornings:
- Edification (horizontal) occurs when people in church gatherings sing, speak to, or somehow communicate with others. It is associated with serving and encouraging others but also may involve less “positive” activities.
- Worship (vertical) occurs when people are involved in communication directly to/from God—including, but not limited to, collective thoughts of adoration or gratitude, and participating in the singing of bona fide hymns (see definition here) with a congregation.
Caveat lector: neither edification nor worship is confined to what happens in church buildings, but both are regularly experienced in such buildings. Neither is worship confined to any group experience, no matter the group size or venue; in fact, worship may more readily occur in private for many of us.
The next posts will deal with the semantic domains of words translated “worship” in English Bibles. This will be the somewhat “heady” material, but I am earnest, believing that those who will dig into this kind of thing will emerge with a better founded, and more useful, approach to worship.