Thoughts About Worship: To God and About God

When deciding whether or not to attend a specific church, many people take into consideration the music portion of the worship service. As a worship leader, I’m often asked, “What kind of music does your church sing?” It’s not exactly a simple question to answer, so over the next few weeks, I want to unpack my own views on worship and how that influences the songs we sing on Sunday mornings.

This week, I want to look at the aim of our worship.

Vertical: Our Worship TO God

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! –Psalm 95:1-2 (ESV)

We’re called to do one thing when we gather together as the body of believers: Exalt Christ. Vertical worship helps us look to God. These songs are about Him and the gospel. The words in “vertical” songs are sung directly to God. We address Him in the lyrics, and we exalt Him. When we sing these songs, we’re giving Him our full worship—we’re remembering how big and how great God is. This type of worship helps us experience the presence of God, and we can’t help but leave changed.

Song Examples:
Forever Reign
One Thing Remains
Worthy is the Lamb
How Great Thou Art
Lead Me To the Cross
Here I Am to Worship

Horizontal: Our Worship ABOUT God

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

After reading about vertical worship, you may think “horizontal worship” is wrong. But there is a place for horizontal worship songs, as well. The apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:19 that we’re to address “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” When we sing together as a body of believers, it’s important that we also sing about God: When we do this, we’re affirming what we know to be true about God—that He’s gracious, loving, righteous, powerful, etc. These songs are meant as an encouragement to believers, meant to minister and edify.

Song Examples:
How Great is Our God
Mighty to Save
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
O How He Loves You and Me

Both categories are important, and they go together to help us fall more in love with Christ. Our services should have both vertical and horizontal worship songs—if we don’t include both, then we can potentially miss something powerful about Christ.

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