(This week I am blogging on the topic of the Whole Life Worship Paradigm and breaking it down to its essential facets)
Whole Life Worship is markedly different from our current cultural understanding of worship. Our culture limits the worship of God to things like singing, music, and the corporate worship service. But here is the Apostle Paul’s definition of worship:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1)
As we see, worship is the simple offering of our lives to God as a response to His mercies. That’s why I call it “Whole Life Worship.” If our worship has nothing to do with the offering of our lives to God in some way, shape or form, then it really is not Biblical worship. God does not want our songs or church attendance or our offerings, unless it is part of the giving of our lives. As David writes,
“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, you will not despise.” (Ps. 51:16-17)
And the most wonderful thing about Whole Life Worship is that it is transformative. As we offer God our lives in worship, He transforms us into the image of Christ – our attitudes, mindset, passions and actions change for the better. That is why Paul goes onto write in Romans 12:2,
“Do not be conformed to the world’s mold, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern and prove what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Yet, it seems like an elusive task. It is one thing to say that we offer God our lives in worship, but it is entirely another thing to actually do it. After years of personally seeking God and researching the ways godly people over the centuries (both in Scripture and Church history) have practiced Whole Life Worship, I have come to a practical paradigm (approach) to how we can actually offer our whole lives to God and see His transformation at work.
The way this is “fleshed out” is through four intentional “movements” within the various spheres of our lives. I use the word “movement” in a musical sense. Like a beautiful Beethoven Symphony, Whole Life Worship is the opus of God in our lives that transforms us into new creations. And like a symphony, four interrelated, but dynamically different movements are required to fulfill the opus.
I call the first movement: “Personal Worship.” This is our time with God in solitude. Many Christians have established devotionals or quiet times as part of their personal discipline. However, Whole Life Worship brings a dimension of vitality and expectation to this time.
The second movement is called: “Everyday Ordinary.” These are the moments of our day when we are coming, going, working, schooling, buying, interacting – all those “ings” we do. Whole Life Worship helps turn these moments into holy encounters that are transforming.
The third movement is called: “Spiritual Friendship.” This is where we meet with a partner or a small group of like-minded worshipers to share, encourage, warn, discern and pray. Whole Life Worship utilizes spiritual friendship to leverage empowerment and perspective to the transformative process.
The fourth movement is called: “Congregation.” This movement affirms our identity, not only with God, but with the people of God as well. While most Christians have experienced transforming moments in a worship service, Whole Life Worship takes this movement one step further: to be an agent of God’s transforming power to others.
This week I will unpack these movements: what they are, how Whole Life Worship is expressed through them, and how they posture us for transformation.