There are a multitude of ways to grow our relationship with God. Studying His word, prayer, fellowship with others, attending services or small group, giving, singing, dancing, art…the list is endless. 12Stone Worship Pastor Chris Morgan says these are all considered worship, and there are as many ways to worship God as there are people worshipping.
Worship is a highly individual practice that should be present in every aspect of our lives. At Central Campus, when we see Chris on the stage as 12Stone’s worship leader, we may mistakenly think that music is the only valid form of worship. But in this interview with Chris, he contends nothing could be further from the truth.
What Is Worship, Really?
The verbs of worship vary – singing, reading, studying, meditating, writing, giving and serving to name a few. But no matter what your style of worship, they all have these three things in common:
Worship honors God for who He is.
Worship celebrates God for what He’s done for us through Jesus.
Worship is saying “Yes” to His great invitation.
Worship, in its simplest form, is putting God first. When we say “yes” to making God our priority, we begin to see His transformational power across all facets of life.
“First is first,” Chris said.
“That means when we put God first, He is the domino that pushes every other domino in our life. We then have to take tangible steps to reinforce that decision. For example, the first thing I do every morning upon rising is spend time with God. I center my life and my day on him. I journal about His word, because knowing God’s stories is a way I mature my faith. By worshipping in this way, I’m acknowledging His lordship in my life.”
So often, we tend to think of worship as a single slice of our spiritual pie. Chris contends, “Worship is not a slice of the pie; it’s the crust of the pie. Every quadrant of life sits upon this foundation of worship.”
Worship is surrendering control of our life to God. This often means changing our habits and our thinking. We tend to compartmentalize our lives, and we can easily forget that God wants to be Lord of all aspects of our lives, not just our Sunday church time. Building a foundation of worship guides us to a life of submission to his Lordship. This frees us to experience the joy and peace of living a life that puts Him first.
How to Grow Worship Practices
1) Be Intentional
Worship is incredibly intentional because it is about prioritizing. For example, Luke 7:36 tells of a sinful woman who wets Jesus’s feet with her tears, pours out expensive perfume on them, kisses them, and then wipes them with her hair. These were intentional acts of worship. God wants us to intentionally devote every aspect of our lives to Him.
2) Be Immersed
All too often, we limit God to our weekly church visits. But if we truly put God first, that means He is Lord of our workplace, our family, our neighborhood, our hobbies, our family time . . . not just for 75 minutes on Sunday. Growing in worship means expanding the reach of God in our lives.
“For families,” Chris notes, “modeling the discipline of worship in all aspects of our lives is real and powerful. If we live one message, and live it authentically and for a long time, our kids see that God is with us in every season.”
3) Be Invigorated
Chris says, “There is a huge line of demarcation in between knowing about God, and knowing God. Worship is the difference in these two things. It’s life changing.”
There is an invigoration of our heart that occurs when we engage with Him. Fellowship with God is so much deeper than knowing the facts of God. This is where worship propels us to the next step of our faith walk.
Chris likens the worship process to building a friendship.
“If I want to be friends with someone, I have to intentionally spend time with them. Even when I’m busy, if I value the relationship, I’ll make it a priority.”
The Benefits of Worship
On the front end, it seems like a climb to build the discipline of regular worship. Our goal is a point of surrender, but as we allow God to take over our lives, we see His power at work and feel the peace of trusting Him with every aspect of who we are.
Chris recalls an example from his own life. “I remember when I first started journaling. It was a challenge for me to train myself in this discipline. But I knew that to know God better, I had to build our relationship by writing His stories. Journaling has become an essential and fruitful part of my walk with God, but in the beginning it wasn’t easy!”
It’s a misconception to limit worship to music. Singing is only one way to open up the doorway to God. For those who enjoy music, worship through praise and singing becomes an avenue to growing in intimacy with God.
No matter how spiritual mature we are, we have an invitation to grow in intimacy through worship. All too often, we tend to compartmentalize our lives and keep God out of certain places. But with worship, we can break down those walls.
“Start with what you love,” Chris points out. “If you love being outside, take a nature walk. If you love art, start there. How you’re wired matters, and it’s important to remember that it’s the connection that’s important to God, not the pathway you take to get there. It’s not about the pathway; it’s about who’s at the end of the pathway.”
“Worship represents the collaboration of body, soul, and spirit. And when your faith becomes personal,” Chris said with a smile, “well . . . let’s just say that’s when it gets really interesting.”
Pastor Chris Morgan, Central Campus Lead in Worship, joined 12Stone in 1996. He and his wife, Mary Anne, live in Jefferson and have 3 grown children – Katie, Annie, and Johnny.