Worship & The Whole Person

Date: | Author: Shawn Newby | Category: Worship

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made

Psalm 139:13-14a


As we know, worship is far more than singing songs on a Sunday morning. Worship is a way of life that encompasses all our activities. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul says, “…whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Whether eating or drinking, working or resting, studying or playing; whatever it is, He has freed us and called us to do it as worship to Him, for the glory of His name.

When we gather on a Sunday morning we do so as one body, whose head is Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). We gather to be refreshed, restored and redirected by the gospel, to grow in our love for Jesus and tell others about Him. Some of us come weary and worn, some joyful and expectant, and some with doubts and frustrations. But we all come to the same source of life: Jesus. Sometimes the songs we sing flow from our hearts and lips with ease, but more times than not we must force ourselves to sing through our pain despite our lethargy and in the face of our doubts. However, as we sing something happens. The truths of the scriptures in the lyrics of the songs act as kindling to the embers of our forgetful hearts. When we force ourselves to sing we are reminded why we sing. The joy of remembering the gospel results in more singing, and more singing results in more remembering, and so the upward cycle of joyous worship begins.

God has created human beings with tremendous complexity (Psalm 139:13-15). We are not simply thinking brains, nor are we merely feeling hearts or just cells and molecules walking around; yet, these are the main components that make up our being. We consist of a will (the mind), emotions (the heart) and a body (the physical). They are all inseparably connected. Each of these components are affecting one another at all times. The mind affects the heart, which affects the body, which affects the heart, which in turn affects the mind; like a dance. The Holy Spirit, who takes up residence in the believer, joins this dance and is present with each of these components. What a gift! To have our very Creator residing in us, His creation, directing and influencing the very core of our being is astounding! He guides our minds, tempers our emotions and helps us use our bodies for His glory (Psalm 139:1-6; 23-24)!

Because we are such complex creatures we also require a complex practice of worship. The same dance that occurs within us between our hearts, minds and bodies must also be present in our worship services. Without these connections, we neglect to use our whole person to worship God. If only the mind was engaged, we might learn theology and doctrine inside and out and yet it wouldn’t affect the way we live! If only the heart was engaged, we would be passionate about God, but would easily run loose into all kinds of heresies! If only the body was engaged, we might become great singers, dancers and instrumentalists, but at the cost of the mission of God!

For this reason, the pastors at Providence work hard to design each worship service to communicate the gospel to the whole person. This is done to grow people up to love and worship Christ. This is why there are so many varying elements in one service. From upbeat praise songs, to reflective hymns, to times of personal confession, to public readings of Scripture, to prayer, to listening to a teacher expound the Word, to eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper together, to being baptized, and the list goes on. These are all intentionally chosen to communicate the gospel to the whole person: the body, the mind, and the heart.

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Psalm 130:5

 

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