Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Purposes of Worship

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"God’s people have always celebrated his work by retelling the stories of his mighty deeds of salvation.  It a time when the church’s memory sometimes seems short, many are rediscovering the value of using the Christian year to pattern our celebrations around the essential truths of the faith.

Good worship forms people to becoming more like Jesus.  Worship is to provide a grammar in which to interpret the world as so to receive a faithful experience of Jesus as Lord.  As post modernity reveals the powers of culture capable of forming our worshipers’ imaginations, our worship must become a culture capable of forming our worshiper’s imaginations faithfully toward the lordship of Jesus Christ.  We must go beyond the focus on right doctrine to being shaped into it.  We must go further than expressing existing emotions to being shaped into new emotions that are born out of the world of “Jesus is Lord.”

Worship is not a lecture hall or feel good pep rally.  We unconsciously hunger for an alive body of Christ we can be immersed into, an enculturated organism that order our desires, orients our vision, and livens our words through art, symbol, prayers, mutual exchanges, participatory rituals, readings of the Word and the Eucharist every Sunday Morning.  Only through immersion can our “selves” be ordered doxologically so as to experience God as he is and live the Christian life in the world. 

Such an immersive worship would immerse our individuated selves into something bigger than ourselves in order to form our selves into that reality.  This is necessary because only when the self is immersed can it be shaped into a reality beyond itself."  –  David Fitch

In The Great Giveaway, David Fitch also gives some great descriptions of what immersive worship is:

  • Immersive Worship Removes the Self from the Center of Worship: The Liturgical Necessity
  • Immersive Worship Requires Art: Toward Truth as Beauty
  • Immersive Worship is Formative
  • Immersive Worship is What Happens vis the Alive Body – Not a Lecture Hall or a Pep Rally

In worship we are anticipating the future by our actions in the present.  The great multitude in Revelation, which no man can number  is not playing football or going shopping.  They are worshiping.

“Throughout scripture, worship was an act of rehearsal.  It was a retelling of the story, in dramatic ways, so that the people of god would never forget the mighty acts of God.  The mighty acts of God (flood, exodus, exile and return) are the moments when God’s salvation was demonstrated.  These moments, celebrated and remembered in regular times of worship, shaped and anchored God’s people of milenia.

When we come before God in corporate worship, we are participating in this ancient practice of remembering and rehearsing.  But we are doing more than rehearsing God’s past faithfulness.  We are also enacting God’s future.  The worshiping community is a sign and foretaste of God’s reign over the whole world.”  – Ryan Bell

"In worship we express the following attitudes: adoration, gratitude, repentance, neediness, submission, and commitment. The elements of worship are the means by which these attitudes are expressed. For example adoration is expressed in praise; gratitude is expressed in thanksgiving; repentance is expressed in confession; neediness is expressed in dependence; submission is expressed in surrender; and commitment is expressed in obedience." – Tim Parker

5 Responses to Purposes of Worship

  1. Ryan Smith says:

    I really liked Fitch’s book. It was insightful and hit a number of important topics.

  2. JR Woodward says:


    Yeah, I have felt the same way about Fitch’s book. I’m still in the midst of reading it, but the chapters I have read have been great.

  3. JR, so sorry to do this here, but i am very frustrated as i emailed you several times in late september/early october and you never responded to ANY of them. i am a fellow follower of Christ on a journey who wanted to meet you when i was in LA to hear about what you are doing and have a conversation. We know some of the same people. i can understand one email getting lost, but 3 or 4 is not in my range of possibilities. i find your lack of response to be rude and not very Christ-like. If i am mistaken and you did not receive any of them, then please forgive me. I did click on your email link and it came up on my computer, but sometimes they do not go through. So, can you shed any light on this situation? Am i wrong or were you rude? Peace, Adele

  4. JR Woodward says:


    Hey, as I wrote you in the e-mail, my guess is that my mail box has mistakenly thrown your letters in the trash Unfortunately that has happened with some people, especially those people who are not in my address book. Please check your e-mail, I gave you another e-mail address you can try so that we can communicate. Sorry for the mishap and I do forgive you for your persumption.

  5. Jason Hesiak says:

    And Hey J.R.,

    Adele hereself recently WROTE a post for a blog site that is run by David Fitch’s (I’m assuming) associate pastor (nonetheless, they work together). I think you have referenced it before…”the church and postmodern culture: a conversation”. In fact I think what you referenced was an interview OF Fitch on that site.


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