Rick Gregory, Writer

Translating Messages From Heads To Hearts

Worship? What’s It Really All About?

I read an article by Russell Moore of Christianity Today this morning. He was discussing some of the different ways Christians respond to God in worship. I was struck by how quickly what he said touched my heart. He was drawing comparisons between how the staid and conservative —and the free and charismatic believers expressed themselves (primarily in a church service) in response to God interacting with them through His Spirit. He illustrated this by reciting an experience he had at a particularly conservative church: “Once when I was preaching in a church that’s more on the “decently and in order” side of Christian liturgy, my host warned me that one woman there was a lot more demonstrative than the rest of the congregation. “There are certain songs we sing that make her start crying and waving her hands,” he said. “And that’s fine. We just want to make sure that we don’t move into a kind of emotionally driven worship.”


I’ve been chewing on this concept of worship for some time now. I’m “stranded” here in Davao City, wondering what the Lord has for me here . . . And not coming up with any good, substantive answers. What I have wondered is whether I’ve really been worshiping Him. Typically, I’ve seen worship as singing. Period. Sure, I know that prayer, time in the Word, and other Christian activities demonstrate a kind of worship. But do I really give myself to worship?

Specifically, do I allow emotion to invade my worship? I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t often allow that. In fact, I was surprised at my immediate emotional response to the article. As I consider my own worship, I have to conclude that I do pretty much everything possible to prevent emotion. Somehow I hold it in, and now I wonder at that. Why don’t I allow emotion in my worship when I regularly tear up at the end of a Hallmark movie?

I suspect it goes way back to being taught that men don’t cry. I can still hear my dad saying, “You want to cry? I’ll give you something to cry about!” And he didn’t mean words. I’ve pretty much always stuffed my emotions, except in those safe places where it’s just Sherry and me.

Moore finishes this part of his article by saying, Only sometimes do we truly perceive how God is reaching us at that deeper place of the heart. We can’t engineer it or manufacture it. But we also shouldn’t ignore it or squelch it.

Maybe the recovering drug addict in the pew in front of you sobs when he sings “Amazing Grace” because he knows how lost he once was. Or maybe singing “Amazing Grace” is what changed him enough to want to be found.

Maybe the Christian whose emotion embarrasses her church in worship is just seeking an emotional dopamine hit. Or maybe what she’s doing is losing all the self-censoring image maintenance that keeps her from crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Maybe underneath all of that, there’s a Holy Spirit who still changes lives.”

And reading the article makes me want to see feel Him change mine!

8 thoughts on “Worship? What’s It Really All About?”

  1. Rick – you are such a gifted writer and this was amazing and hit home with me as I, over the years, have tended to stifle my worship emotions. Reading this article has touched me and touched my heart in a way to inspire me to not be hesitant to demonstrate, at least in a mild manner, what I feel. Thank you my brother for the inspiration. M & M are praying for you two.

    1. Yes, Maynard. I had my hands lifted for much of the worship this past Sunday. It was awkward . . . and . . . fulfilling! Praying for you guys regularly, too!

  2. Hey Rick, I love all the maybe’s here. Thought I would drop in to say hi. Blessings to you and Sherry.

  3. Thank you Rick. I relate to these thoughts for sure with my “Dutch background” of keeping our emotions in check. I really do need to just check in with Jesus and allow emotions to flood into worship of Him! Missin’ you and Sherry!

  4. Rick, it’s interesting you have been having these thoughts on worship. Lately, I have been thinking much more about worship than ever before. Not necessarily what it looks like as you mentioned but “when”should we worship. I don’t believe God intended worship to be for a Sunday mornings only. I am finding that God wants me to worship Him throughout the day….. every day. Yesterday, it was on a bike ride to the beach with Jana. I was looking at my surroundings and was overwhelmed by Gods goodness in my life that I couldn’t help but respond by worshipping. It helped that I was streaming Big Daddy Weave on Pandora but a song came on and all I could do was respond by worshipping along with the praise song at how good God is and how blessed I am…. How could I not? How can WE (the church) not respond in praise? I know I have shared this with you before but I will share it again. If the church (or myself) fail to worship the God of all creation, the rocks will !!! How embarrassing it would be to have a rock worship more or better than us as individuals or a church. Lately, before going to bed at night I have been asking the Holy Spirit to worship within me as I sleep which may sound unusual but I find I sometimes wake up in the morning with a praise song on my mind. My takeaway from all this is we need to worship and give thanks throughout our day every day. Now regarding our expression of worship, I completely relate to your comments. My day said the same thing about crying as a child and I was also raised to not show emotion too (I think it was generational because my dad was a loving God fearing man). So the question still begs. Why don’t we express more emotion in our worship? Why is there such a disconnect there? Rick, I am going to reflect (and pray) on this thought this week as I evaluate this “flaw” in my worship experience. Thanks for sharing this with us…

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