Having bought Zac Hick’s latest album, Without Our Aid, I’ve been nosing around his website, which contains posts on various aspects of corporate worship, detailed album reviews and other resources.
Here’s a recent post on the difference between worshipping God and worshipping worship:

“Idolatry happens when we take good things and make them ultimate things.”  ~ Tim Keller
“One mark of Christian maturity is being easily blessed.”  ~ Unknown
“Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  ~ Psalm 139:23-24

The following comparisons are convicting.  These observations have risen to the surface of the boiling pot of my own ministry, and I’ve probably got a story for every one of these.  (Half the time, the stories will be about me and my own wandering heart.)  You may not agree with all of them, but they certainly help get to the heart of the matter.  They convict me.  At one time or another, I have been guilty of crossing the line into all of these.  Truth be told, for followers of Jesus, “worshiping God” versus “worshiping worship” is less an issue of either/or and more an issue of both/and.  Christians who have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them and yet still fight the “sin in our members” know that even our best praise is mixed with some idolatry.  May God continue to root it out and make us more wholeheartedly devoted to Him.  Lord, have mercy.

Worshipers of God prioritize God’s glory and pleasure in worship.
Worshipers of worship prioritize “being fed” in worship.

Worshipers of God care less about their personal preferences in worship.
Worshipers of worship care intensely about their personal preferences in worship.

Worshipers of God are more easily blessed in worship.
Worshipers of worship are more easily bothered in worship.

Worshipers of God approach worship as instruments and vessels.
Worshipers of worship approach worship as appraisers and evaluators.

Worshipers of God tend to approach their pastors and worship leaders more often with words of encouragement and thankfulness.
Worshipers of worship tend to approach their pastors and worship leaders more often with words of criticism and admonishment.

Worshipers of God more instinctively flex when elements are out of their comfort zone.
Worshipers of worship more instinctively bristle when elements are out of their comfort zone.

Worshipers of God are inspired by beautiful art to love God more.
Worshipers of worship are inspired by beautiful art to love beautiful art more.

Worshipers of God easily overlook and forget glitches and “errors” that happen in worship.
Worshipers of worship fixate on and can’t get past glitches and “errors” that happen in worship.

Worshipers of God tend to leave a “good” worship service loving God more.
Worshipers of worship tend to leave a “good” worship service loving worship services more.

Worshipers of God tend to leave a “bad” worship service loving God more.
Worshipers of worship tend to leave a “bad” worship service bothered.

Worshipers of God tend to leave worship with a renewed sense of awe and thanksgiving.
Worshipers of worship tend to leave worship ready to dialogue about what worked and what didn’t.*

*An important tweet from @iwsfla (Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies) clarifies that this distinction (and probably others above) may not pertain at all times to those who plan and lead worship.  Evaluation is, indeed, helpful for leading and planning worship.

3 thoughts on “The Difference Between Worshipping God And Worshipping Worship (via Zac Hicks)

  1. W says:

    I agree with some of your stances but disagree with a few. One in particular that I felt was wrong is the statement “Worshipers of God prioritize God’s glory and pleasure in worship. Worshipers of worship prioritize “being fed” in worship.” Praising God is only one part of worship as he takes pleasure in giving and revealing his glory and touching people in worship.

    I remember a statement someone gave in a sermon a long time ago in my youth, “God doesn’t need our worship, but we need it.” That doesn’t mean we need to worship ourselves or worship itself; it does means we need worship in itself to praise God and part of the goodness of God is being fed by him during it. Worship is a strong powerful key in unlocking doors that are shut in people’s hearts letting the spirit work on them in the midst of the service. There are songs that will touch someone and allow them to break down in tears opening up to God and others instead will be transformed and touched or as you say, “fed’ by God with his love and presence of the Holy Spirit.

    I’d like to sum up it up in just one statement:

    “Worshippers of God seek him and his presence. Worshippers of Worship just sing along”

    Seeking God’s presence involves and includes praising God but that is only a small spectrum of the wholeness. His presence includes joy, releasing, forgiveness, compassion, LOVE, impartation, guidance, glory, power, and on and on. I want people to walk in through the door and feel God’s presence so powerfully they are touched and never the same regardless of their walk in life. So when they leave the church they want more of God regardless if it’s in the same church or not.

    1. Gary Ware says:

      W,
      Thanks for your thoughtful interaction with the propositions stated above (which are by church music leader and composer Zac Hicks, by the way, but with which I agree).
      My response to your thoughts is that ‘Worshippers of God acknowledge that they are already in His presence because of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, not because of their feelings, songs or physical actions.’
      Singing/worship don’t bring us into the presence of God, they’re what we do assured of His love and acceptance in Christ.

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