My Worship Philosophy

Even though I have other homework due sooner than this, I decided tonight to begin working on my philosophy of worship. It’s for History & Philosophy of Worship class, and it also is probably one of the most important things I’ve written to date, and will be for some time. It will no doubt have a large impact on what happens in my near future, whether that is finding a career, going to grad school, or moving to Hungaria.

The outline I have so far breaks the paper down into three main parts, with several sub-sections. The first sections is about the Biblical foundations of worship. That is the hardest part of the paper, will require the most research and study (if I was writing this before taking a class on Bib Foundations it would all be so much easier… :), and is probably the hardest part to write and read. The next section is on corporate worship, where I will break it down into music, art (visual and drama), technology, liturgy, ritual, and worship as a lifestyle. For now, these are the sections I will be writing in the days to come. Finally, I will write a section on personal worship, and I’ not really sure how it will divide up yet, so you’ll just have to wait on that one. Today I want to start with Worship as Technology. It’s been on my mind a lot this weekend, and I want to get at least some of it out.

Please feel free to give feedback, good or bad. I especially value you helping me know where I’ve done a good job explaining my philosophies, and where I’ve left you unclear or wanting more (if you disagree with some of my philosophies, that’s great; but you’re probably not going to change a whole lot by telling me).

Technology as Worship

Including technology in a philosophy of worship is without question the most recent ‘category’ of worship. Only in the last 50 years has it played any role at all, and only in the last ten has it become overwhelmingly significant. I believe technology has a role in worship that it fits, and should play; but I also believe that its role has been largely misinterpreted and misused, especially recently.

I believe technology has two specific roles in worship. The first is that technology serves as a aid to corporate worship, and the second is that it serves as a platform to which we can make worship more understandable to those who are new or unfamiliar with what exactly our corporate worship is, and what it means. To say technology is a means of worship in and of itself is errant, but rather it is a medium of worship, no different than the altar was a medium which the Israelites used as an aid in their worship to God.

The foremost goal of technology in worship is to completely disappear from thought or conscience of the worshiper. If the worshiper is focused on how great the lighting is or how terrible the sound is, then technology has ceased to fill its role in worship and has become a distraction. This is the reason why I believe it is so important than hours of planning and preparation come before any worship service ever occurs. Technicians must realize importance is in the message, not the media. A certain video may be cinematically thrilling, but if the message is lost in the camera work or the acting, then all that video has done is become a hindrance and distraction to the worshiper. I do want to clarify here that for those working with the technology, their worship is very much in the technology because their efforts to do their best and present the best offering they can is their worship. But for the uninvolved worshiper, a perfect worship service, technologically speaking, is one where the technology is never even noticed.

The secondary goal of technology in worship is to serve as a way which unbelievers or new believers can relate to and understand. To just throw an unexperienced person into a worship service is like putting a passenger in the cockpit of a 747. You may have seen planes in the sky, or even flown on them, but if you have no training in how to fly it, the cockpit will look like an imposing myriad of buttons and switches. In this case, worship serves as a ‘flight simulator’ of sorts. It simplifies everything down to just a joystick, something easier to grasp and much less terrorizing to dive in to. For an outsider who is unfamiliar with what is happening, technology can serve this purpose well. Putting song lyrics or Bible verses on a screen will help focus in on the activity being performed. (I preface this next statement by saying I have nothing against hymnals, and I grew up singing the old hymns and I love them) By eliminating the need to find a hymnal and understand how to use, or keeping a person from searching for a pew Bible, the media has successfully skirted the first obstacle for someone in unfamiliar territory. That is not to say that worship should be a comfortable thing, for I believe it should be the exact opposite; but there’s no reason a worship service need scare a person away just because it’s hard to understand what is happening.