Did God intend worship to be copy and paste?

Create a safe place for young people to share their hearts without fear of judgement or ridicule. It will encourage honest responses, leading to deeper worship.

We are individuals, uniquely made because of God's inexhaustible creativity. Yet, when it comes to worshipping God, we seem more comfortable being like everyone else.

Music moves us, literally.

Did you know that our bodies are made up of 60 percent water? The incredible thing is that water vibrates when music is played which means that our bodies are literally vibrating to music.

It’s no wonder we’re deeply affected by it. But not all people are affected the same way, and that’s exactly how it’s meant to be.

As a leader of young people, explore the possibility that you may be copying others in your worship. You may live your entire life without acknowledging what God has placed inside you. If you never worship the way God intended for you to worship Him, that would be a travesty.

The gift of you

The moment we try to be like others, we lose our unique gift. When we understand that God works with our limitations, likes, and dislikes, we begin to glimpse how we were made to worship.

Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes if secular music moves me, I want to worship God (gasp!). The thing is, God created everything. He created deeply talented people to create beautiful music, whether they know God intimately or not. He created an innate response in us to worship; we just need to tap into it.

God is creative, and He has placed His creativity within us. We stifle that gift when we try to be like others or become jealous of someone else’s gift. You were created with a purpose, and God has given you ways to worship Him that are not like others. Celebrate that and celebrate the way others worship.

Being completely who you are is worshipping God in truth. It’s an acceptance of who you are and how you were made. It’s giving the world the gift of you, unfiltered.

It’s time to downplay being popular and celebrate being unique.

How can I be unique in my worship?

How you think and feel is different from how I think and feel. Things we deal with in our hearts and how we deal with them make us unique in our relationship with God.

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24 NLT).

For years, I pondered this verse, mostly because I have a personality that wants to do things right. I understood how to worship God in spirit, as we are made up of mind, body, and spirit. When we worship, our spirit connects with the Holy Spirit.

A “worship in truth” journey is a tough one. It requires us to be completely honest with all the gunk in our hearts. Make no mistake that God can see it all, but He wants us to see it and own it. We need to acknowledge our feelings of envy, jealousy, and anger. We all feel it; we just don’t want to admit it.

If we worship Him in our darkest moments, we begin to understand that we are loved. When we’re able to bring Him our jealousies and rejection, it lightens our load. Worship is not only about music; it’s about how we live.

Create a safe place for young people to share their hearts without fear of judgement or ridicule. Teach them to talk to God about these things and to listen for answers. It will encourage honest responses, leading to deeper worship and a relationship with God.

Spread the word that God doesn’t want us to tick off a set of worship rules; He wants our hearts as they are, devoid of perfection. He wants us to bring our weaknesses, darkness, and mistakes to Him alongside our joy.

God knows us better than we know ourselves. When we go into spaces with Him, he reveals Himself to us in the way we need to see Him. The remarkable thing about receiving revelation from Him is that it energises us and makes us feel validated and loved.

Jesus came to break rules

Anyone who has told you specifically how to worship God according to the Bible is telling you one of two things. Firstly, they’re telling you about their experience. Secondly, they may be telling you how they were told to worship God.

Break out! There are no rules, and I believe God purposefully left some things out of the Bible to leave space for our creativity. For instance, He told us He wants us to worship Him in spirit and truth, but He left out how to do this. I think it’s because He didn’t want us to live by a set of rules, yet we still make them.

I once went to a worship seminar, and those running it wanted to bring us out of our comfort zone. Now I’m all for this, but God needs to tell me when, not people. They began playing vibrant music, and I felt immense pressure when they told us to jump around, shout, and sing.

I did what they asked, but I felt like a complete idiot. I was forcing something my heart wasn’t ready to do. The valuable lesson I learned as a worship leader was never to force others to do something I felt they should do. We’re so used to doing what people ask us to do that we lose ourselves trying to please others.

This is one reason to keep our eyes on Jesus when we worship instead of looking around the room. We’re all on a journey, and each journey is different. The Bible talks about shouting, dancing, singing, and blowing trumpets. It also talks about silence, meditation, pausing (selah), pondering, and lying prostrate.

Stop looking at how others worship and worship how you want to.

The church I belong to has a much smaller evening meeting. It starts with a 20 to 30-minute sermon or testimony and ends with an hour of worship. The lights are dimmed, and some escape to dark corners. No one looks at anyone else because they’re all interested in focusing on Jesus alone. Some dance, some sway, some raise their hands, some sit on the floor, and others lie prostrate. I know this because I looked, but for research purposes. It’s all acceptable, and there’s freedom in not caring about being watched.

Take the pressure off and think about how you love to express yourself.

How can I express myself in worship?

It’s important to remember that you're not going to worship God one way your whole life. Lists tend to box things, and there is no box in worship.

There isn’t one way to “see” God in our imaginings. You are uniquely made, and we all see Him in different ways. He is multifaceted and extends outside the realms of our thinking. He is limitless.

I wanted to think of ways to worship God in today’s context. We are inundated with mainstream worship by a few well-known labels. This is great, but it’s taught us to sing or write a verse, a chorus, a verse, and a bridge in a particular style of music.

Today, music is becoming more intelligent and reaching new heights and depths in harmonics, lyrics, and instruments. Christian music is slowly beginning to change to include the individual, but it has a long way to go.

The way we live is worship; we just need to tweak who or what we’re meditating on while we worship. Below are ten biblical ways to express yourself in worship. I pray that you will begin breaking “worship rules” instilled by others and discover new ways to express your worship.

  1. Singing. This includes whistling, beatboxing, and throat singing (like Mongolian techno). (James 5:13, Ephesians 5:19, Psalm 91:5)
  1. Meditating. The dictionary calls this pondering or thinking about a subject. Read a Bible verse and meditate on its meaning. It’s about being silent and pausing. (Genesis 24:63, Joshua 1:8, Philippians 4:8, Psalm 19:14, Psalm 49:3)
  1. Playing instruments. Not just the popular ones like piano and guitar – what about marimbas, theremin, didgeridoos, pots, plates, and spoons? (Psalm 150:1-6, 33:2, Exodus 15:20)
  1. Lying prostrate. Lying with your face on the ground is an act of repentance, adoration, or submitting yourself to God. (Deuteronomy 9:18, Luke 17:16)
  1. Writing or journaling. Poetry, songs, prose, and writing about sadness, pain, joy, and creation. (Psalm 45:1, Revelation 21:5)
  1. Praying. Speak, lament, listen, and be thankful in your car, on your bike, and in the shower. (Ephesians 1:18, 6:18, 1 John 5:14, Jeremiah 29:12, Mark 11:24)
  1. Being in nature. God often speaks to us through nature; He made it all for us to enjoy. (Job 12:7-10, Psalm 96:11-12, Romans 1:20)
  1. Dancing. Dramatic expressions of worship include jumping, ballroom, Latin American, Spanish, modern, ballet, freestyle dance, and more. (Ecclesiastes 3:4, Psalm 149:3, 2 Samuel 6:14-17)
  1. Art. Drawing, painting, collage, photography, metalwork, and sculpture. (Isaiah 64:8, Exodus 35:31-33)
  1. Working. Being grateful for your job and loving those around you is worship. (Colossians 3:23, Ephesians 4:28, Galatians 6:4-5)

We need to start celebrating each other’s unique qualities instead of trying to be like everyone else. Each of us is a gift to others, but we can only be a gift when we start becoming ourselves.

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Author: Celeste Smith
Celeste is a wife to a bald drummer and mother to a bass guitarist/worship leader. She's a pianist, vocalist, worship leader, lover of Jesus, online writer, and author of one book. She loves seeing young people reach their full potential in becoming leaders, particularly worship leaders. She is passionate about finding different sounds and including those musicians who aren't the "norm". What is normal anyway?
Published: 20 March 2023
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