(This is the second part of a series called “Whole Life Worship 101.” If you missed last week’s blog, click here)
Last week we looked at the “genesis” of how Whole Life Worship (WLW – I’m going to use acronyms for the sake of simplicity) came into being. This week I want to give an overview of how the WLW concept works in real time and in real life.
We left off last week saying that WLW is a model based on Romans 12:1-2 which describes the dynamic of worship, that involves:
1. Offering our whole life to God in response to His great mercies in Christ
2. In this act of worship, God facilitates a work in our lives through renewing our mind/perspective and transforming our character,
3. So that He can work through our lives by knowing and doing the will of God
One of the ways WLW works in real life, so that all these dynamics take place, is through WLW rhythms. None of these rhythms are new to Christ-followers. But in the WLW model there are certain “tweaks” to these traditional rhythms that create a new, powerful and dynamic process.
The first tweak has to do with changing the mindset on when the worship process begins. In the traditional understanding, worship begins with the Sunday morning worship service. But WLW begins on Monday, with spending daily one-on-one time with God. We see in the Gospels several times where Jesus modeled the priority of having one-on-one time with the Father before stepping out into the day (see Mark 1:35). I call this first rhythm of the WLW model:
1. Personal Worship Time (PWT)
Many Christians practice a “quiet time” or “devotional” or “solitude time.” But Personal Worship Time tweaks the focus. Often, the focus in the quiet time devotional is often the “what” or the task of reading the Bible or devotional guide, praying through a list, journaling thoughts, practicing silence, etc. PWT focuses on the Who. It’s all about being present to Jesus; the “what” are simply tools that posture us to encounter the “Who” (for more on this, click here).
2. Worship in the Everyday Ordinary (WIEO)
Have you ever had a great one-on-one time with the Lord in the morning and then forget all about Jesus for the rest of the day? I believe this is very common, and frustrating. It used to happen to me all the time. WIEO flows out of PWT by focusing on ways we can continue our fellowship with Christ in our everyday experiences in life. In my opinion, this is the component that is missing in the life of a Christ-follower (I consider WIEO the “secret sauce” of WLW). I use concepts taken from classic Christian devotional writers, like Brother Lawrence, Jean-Paul DeCassaude, St. Francis, Frank Laubach, and others to show how we can live out WIEO. And the main outcome of living out WIEO is profound: through our encountering Christ in our everyday ordinary, He invites us to engage with people, to meet a need, or to make a difference in our world. In other words, Jesus uses WIEO to join him in His mission within the existing structure of our lives! There’s so much more about this WLW concept, so for more info, click here.
3. Missional Community (MC)
Many Christ-followers are in a small group (Bible Study Group, Growth Group, Care Group, etc.), so the practice of meeting with small, intimate communities is not foreign. However, most small group leaders will attest that their group members are hesitant when it comes to mission, outreach, or making an impact in their communities. MCs intentionally tweak the small group so that “looking outward” becomes the focal point. Communities that regularly practice PWT and WIEO come together to share about how they’ve seen God at work: around them, in them and through them. They study Scripture, not for the sake of head-knowledge, but for the sake of equipping them for the mission/assignment God is calling them to. Their prayer times are not just praying for personal needs, but also interceding for people they know who are in need – and being willing to be used by God as an answer to that prayer. I will be sharing much more about MC in the future.
Instead of being the starting point of worship, the Celebration becomes a culmination point. After spending the week in PWT, WIEO and MC, you will have meaningful sacrifices of praise and worship to that you can really celebrate. So, instead of coming to a worship service to “get” your spiritual pill for the week, you can come to worship to “give” to God the glory due His name – because you’ve consciously been connected to Him all week long. This celebration then propels you back into another week of PWT, WIEO, and MC with greater spiritual momentum that grows over time.
So, in a nutshell, this is how the WLW concept works. As you reflect on what you’ve just read, I invite you to share your reflections on Facebook or in the WLW subscription:
a. What part of this blog resonated with you?
b. What do you have questions/reservations about?
c. Anything else you want to add to this conversation?
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4 thoughts on “How Whole Life Worship Works”
I very much like this “flipped” version of the Christian week. It is a different perspective that changes the focus of the day to day. It gives me much to consider.
Thanks, Kathy! Yes, this “flipped version of the Christian week” has been very impactful for me. I also find that it is helpful to “collect” the praises and thanksgiving of the week from living out Whole Life Worship before I go into a Celebration service. It’s amazing how short the human memory is. No wonder the Bible writers always admonish us to “remember” what the Lord has done.
Personal worship time is about “who” you focus on not “what” your doing. I’m glad I clicked on the read more button – it explained so much more! It opened my eyes to realize that if I want to encounter God that it’s not a recipe of activity…it’s being present to just talk and hear Him. When I think that the purpose of this time is to meet God instead of getting through things I have to do in a “quiet time”….I understand how important this time is and to not ignore it or let it lose priority for me.
Thanks, Laura! I especially love the way you put it: “Encountering God is not a recipe of activity.” I’d like to use that in a future blog. Let me know if that’s okay