Worship: There Isn’t A Recipe

Whenever I want to surprise my wife with a gift, I usually clean the house, make her dinner, or buy her something not too expensive but just enough to evoke a “You totally didn’t have to do that!” response. One thing I learned very quickly is that if I repetitively do the same things over and over, it seems like less of a gift and more of a normality; the shock factor soon wears away, and the initial intention of that “gift” now seems worthless. It’s not that my wife is unappreciative at all, but we all fall into habits and lose sight of value, don’t we? I think this is because the relationships we have with other people are not meant to be formulaic. They are meant to be progressive. So, a question I recently have had is, if our relationships with other people are supposed to be progressive, how is our relationship, and more specifically our worship, with God supposed to be any different?

Growing up, my family bounced around from time to time to a number of different Churches. However, it seemed that no matter how many different churches we went to, they all shared a very familiar pattern to their music. They would have slow songs, a couple of mid-tempo songs, a “Special Music” song for the offering, and one at the end that everyone usually held hands for (awkward when you’re sitting on the end). Even though that was almost 20 years ago, I think we still fall into a pattern of the types of music we sing in church today, especially in the more “modern” churches.


  1. Big Intro
  2. Soft Verse
  3. Soft Chorus
  4. Louder Verse
  5. Loud Chorus (Sometimes repeated)
  6. Soft Bridge
  7. Build the Bridge up
  9. Big Outro


Add this in with a few more similar songs, a prayer, and maybe a revisit to an old hymn at the end, and you have yourself a one way ticket on an emotional flight to destination “Surefire Repentance.”  I hear their weather’s nice.

Now, honestly, there is nothing wrong with this type of song. But the fact is, there isn’t a recipe for worship. Repetition of music can be extremely useful when it’s filled with truth. The only thing we need to be careful of is that when we fall into repetition, it’s easy to see that we might be relying on the musical dynamics of the songs to ignite an emotional response more than we are pleading for an encounter with the Holy Spirit. The music we sing is not the worship itself, rather it is meant to provide an environment for us to connect with God in worship.

Ultimately, worship is not for us. It’s not about how it “makes us feel”. With that in mind, it doesn’t matter if the band plays our favorite song, if the cymbals hit at the right time, if there is a facemelting guitar solo (although preferred), or the singer has an impressive range. All that matters is that we open up our hearts completely, just as they are, and allow God to move in us whichever way He wants.


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