Worship Tricks

An English Christian leader named Jonny Baker has compiled one hundred of what he calls “worship tricks.” Many of them require multimedia resources. Others resemble sophisticated object lessons, such as those used in children’s church, only these are for adults: music videos, mystical poems, spiritual labyrinths. One of them involves a flame-throwing sermon illustration — for the feast of Pentecost of course.

Worship tricks… I might call them “church tricks” instead. Jonny Baker might object to that term, since most of these postmodern, emerging church innovations are designed to communicate to people who aren’t or haven’t been in the church.

But it seems to me his underlying concept of worship actually has much in common with the church traditions he’s trying to get away from: worship implicitly defined as any religious/spiritual action, however vague, often done by official people in official places at official times. Worship as human communication, if not as human duty, not divine communication. Worship as act, not life.

I enjoyed reading these tricks and they have been helpful to many people. But I wouldn’t call them “worship,” except in the sense that everything a Christian does should be an act of worship toward God. But even there, I wonder.

Worship, I am told, was originally spelled “worthship”. The word is used to translate Biblical words that mean “to bow down,” “prostrate oneself”, “do obeisance to another”. If so, Biblical worship is not preaching, not evangelism, not cultural dialogue. It doesn’t have to be done in a church or from a church or because of a church. Indeed, few churches worship in this spiritual sense.

Did I mention that everything a Christian does should be an act of worship toward God?

May my life be an example of true worship. May I prostrate myself before God every day, so I won’t need lighter fluid or a video monitor to see the fire of God fall.

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