Is our worship just a drug?

A few quotes on worship:

“it’s great… you just feel really euphoric”

“makes me feel like superman, lots of energy and a feeling like I could do anything”

“sometimes like you’re floating on the inside”
The interesting thing is that all of these are actually all quotes about what it is like to feel high. Isn’t it amazing the similarities to what we hear when there is a great worship service? People used to say they were “high on Jesus”. Some reason that always bothered me because I think there is so much more to worship worship than that.

So is worship just a drug? Is it a cheap thrill?

Modern day worship seems to have turned a corner where we have limited the holiness of God and elevated our hope for warm and fuzzy feelings every time we get together.

We treat worship Like a selfish relationship. Recently I have been involved in a multi-church prayer/worship meeting. We have moved in a direction that we feel like God is leading us to pertaining the order and flow of the monthly event. Like any event there have been amazing ones and there have been lackluster ones, but the vision stays consistent in that we Worship in unity and pray for revival in our churches and community. I have been made aware of a bunch of people who no longer got the “feeling” they were looking for out of the meeting and have chosen to not return. I wasn’t surprised by this because it happens every day, but it saddened me.

Churches lose people all the time because attendees didn’t quite get that buzz, didn’t like the sermon that week, and even have issues with the carpet color. I think the issue may be within the phrase “I attend ______(insert church name)”. When did it start being about attending a church and less about being the church.

It is the same reason why so many marriages are failing right now. People are selfish and when a guys wife no longer gives him that “feeling” it is time to go find a girl that can.

Selfish Worship is powerless worship.

We as leaders have perpetuated a culture of powerless worship. Think about that for a second….

We attempt to manipulate emotional responses from our congregations by the right formula of fast to slow songs so people can get their sunday fix. Sometimes we treat it like a spiritual Redbull, but monday comes and that high wears off. We use something designed to glorify the King and water down the power to attract the outside. Did Jesus water down the power of God? We have to be careful that we don’t confuse accessibility with seeker focused worship.

We worship God because He is worthy to be worshiped. It is because He alone is worthy and He alone is Holy. Thats it! We don’t worship so we can try to Christianize the latest Muse track. We worship because the King of Kings is Holy.

We praise God because of what He has done and continues to do.


Do we come to church ready to worship?
Have we been worshiping all week?

We love to throw around terms like “worship is not music… it’s a lifestyle”.

That is great and so true.
I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalms 34:1)

We need to be constantly praising our God and king, but Christian slogans become just that. We become desensitized to our own terms and forget the greatness of the POWER of God.

Acts 16:23-26 “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

(24) Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

(25) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”

There seems to be a divided people in the church these days. Some who want no music and some who think it should all be music.

Do you think that we would be so divided on that if we worshiped with everything we had like Paul and Silas did? Football stadiums are full of people willing to scream and yell for their favorite team and in our churches we have people who know that Jesus came and died for us to be saved and we worship His greatness with lackluster hearts. Can you imagine a worship service like paul and silas had where God shakes your church and people are released from their burdens and shackles and where “EVERY ONE’S BANDS WERE LOOSED” ?

Praise and worship bring us into the presence of God  “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance” (Psalms 89:15)

The Bible says that God inhabits in the praises of His people (Psalms 22:3).
I love that because it says That when we praise GOD dwells in the midst of us. While praise is a reaction to His greatness it is also the gateway to ushering in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Worship gives us the ability as worshipers to be creative in our expression as well. With dance, spoken word, singing, lyrics, the arts etc… We limit this creativity in worship when we limit the freedom of expression and range of emotion.

Worship in our services should be like a buffet line. It is self serve smorgasbord of all kinds of things. The church needs to stop waiting for leaders to force feed them and seek God in their own time. Sometimes just like in a buffet they are things you may not like. A worship leaders job is to not just hand you the comfortable mac-n-cheese every time or what I like to call happy meal worship. Sometimes he needs to go deeper. Sometimes he needs to break out the oatmeal and give you something sustainable. Other times he may need to break out the broccoli which he knows you may not like, but your soul desperately needs.

Worship is a Powerful WEAPON:

2 Chronicles 20

10 “And now see what the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir are doing. You would not let our ancestors invade those nations when Israel left Egypt, so they went around them and did not destroy them.11 Now see how they reward us! For they have come to throw us out of your land, which you gave us as an inheritance.

12 O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.”
13 As all the men of Judah stood before the LORD with their little ones, wives, and children,

14 the Spirit of the LORD came upon one of the men standing there. His name was Jahaziel son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite who was a descendant of Asaph.
15 He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.16 Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel.

17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!”
18 Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the LORD.

19 Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout.

20 Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”

21 After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the LORD and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:
“Give thanks to the LORD;
his faithful love endures forever!”
22 At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the LORD caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.23 The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other……
26 On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing,t which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the LORD there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today.
27 Then all the men returned to Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat leading them, overjoyed that the LORD had given them victory over their enemies.
28 They marched into Jerusalem to the music of harps, lyres, and trumpets, and they proceeded to the Temple of the LORD.
29 When all the surrounding kingdoms heard that the LORD himself had fought against the enemies of Israel, the fear of God came over them.

Worship goes before the battle.
Praise and worship is our weapon in the battle.
We rejoice in the victory by praising the VICTOR.

How amazing is that section. Do we ever lead our worship services in the knowledge that this is MUCH more than singing? Are we praying for the insight and discernment to be aware that God may be using our praise and worship on the front lines of a spiritual battle?

This past sunday I was leading worship and felt a horrible spirit in the room. I felt like God was saying to change up the set list on the fly. I followed. What happened that most likely no body noticed is I was no longer leading worship, but was fighting a spiritual battle along side angels in the room with my praise to the King.

Praise and Worship are amazing and Not only is God worthy of our praise but its amazing what He will do through us and in us when we glorify him.


Are you creating a culture of “surface worship” happy meal worship?

Are you teaching people to worship and the amazing power in it?

Is your churches time of praise centered around attracting people or Christ?

During the weeks that the Spirit doesn’t fall on the church like it’s pentecost does your team consider that their failure or do you teach the ebb and flow of the movement of God?






13 responses to “Is our worship just a drug?”

  1. Jason Durham Avatar

    Great post. I went to a church growing up where I was told that when we sang during the “music” part of the service that it is not meant to be an emotional time. That throws focus on us, rather than us focusing our praise on God. Firstly . . . that church was wacked with how they thought the music was ONLY to be done. Secondly . . . they were right about emotional focus.

    But . . . I think any worship, where emotion is not involved, can be dry. Sure we can go stand sing verses 1, 2, and 4 (Southern Baptists never sing the forbidden 3rd verse!) of the the three hymns before the deacons go up, pray, then take the offering, then a special music is sung by a soloist, then the preacher does his thing, then we really go all emotive for the call to action . . . (yeah that’s my new term for the alter call!)

    But, when you think about it . . . when the worship is formulaic, (which I am not saying “order” because formula and order can be two different things, right?), emotion is non-present or . . . impactful?! (yeah I made the word up! Booyah!) Kinda like dad saying same after-church lunch prayer at the table – stale. Same old same old.

    But when you think about it . . . isn’t that really a mirror of the the opposite of only emotion and the buzz of out of control worship? It’s like a pendulum . . . but, aren’t they both self-focused? The habitual is done because it is what we are comfortable with. The out of control is done because it’s what we want to feel. Somewhere in the valley of both of those mountains is where God deals with us . . . and we usually have no recourse but TO respond. That’s why He is God and we are not. Plus, He could take us in an arm wrestling contest for sure! After all . . . that’s where He seems to do most of His work, right – in the valley?
    Just my two cents.

  2. Rich Kirkpatrick Avatar

    “Is your churches time of praise centered around attracting people or Christ?”

    Amazing question! Ouch.

  3. Alastair Avatar

    Dude! Amazing post. I love Acts 16 and how worship broke not only their chains, but everyone’s in the cell… and they weren’t even necessarily taking part! Worship is powerful. God moves when we worship Him. That is my cry! That people leave changed from the way they came in. Let’s lead with expectancy, and teach our congregations to expect great things also.

    You must of had the sweat rag out while writing that post, buddy. Well done.

  4. Matt Anderson Avatar

    Great questions here. My feel on it is that churches have failed to educate the congregations on what true worship is. We have programed them to think it is the music time. When pastors and leaders use phrases like “Lets begin our worship, and stand” before the first song, or at the end of a sermon when the orator says, “Before we get back into worship, I want to finish with this.” we tell them that worship is singing. Worship in a congregational setting should be everything that happens (which should beg the question, how are announcements worship?) We should teach the congregation what congregational worship is, giving examples from the Bible, especially Revelation 4 &5. We should also educate them that worship should be done individually 6 days a week. The overflow from the week long worship individually should overflow on a Sunday, and the worship from Sunday morning should overflow into their individual worship over the week.

    Perhaps the main issue is that the churches are not sufficiently revealing God. If you notice a lot of worship in the Bible comes after God has revealed Himself (see the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the nation of Israel, Isaiah, John in Revelation). We can blame people for not caring enough, or being consumerist, but we need to look at what the Church is doing to actually bring about proper worship, it might be more the fault of churches across American, than the individual who fills the pew.

  5. Mike Mahoney Avatar

    So, is worship the opiate of the congregation?

    Worship – in my view – needs to be emotional. If I’m having a deep, one on one relationship with anyone, there is emotion involved in it. How can it not be that way with God?

    Worship always goes before the battle. (I wrote a post on that once.) Worship is always on the front line. But because of that, it takes the most hits, so to speak.

    We try to never look at a “bad” week as a failure. We look to whatever else in the service worked, connected, taught, touched. There’s always something. And we try not to make the worship time attractional, we try to make the experience attractional. Yes, the music should connect, but there needs to be more than that. I can put together a set of catchy tunes with good hooks, but better that I do a set where the lyrics flow themeatically from one to another, and take the worshipper on a journey of sorts, from their own lives to the presence of the King. Even if they are not aware of it, I think that has value.

  6. Joel Klampert Avatar

    @mike mahoney “So, is worship the opiate of the congregation?” not at all, but sometimes we make it that. Sometimes it is about getting our fix and less about a HABIT OF PRAISE.
    You know I love what you do. We should always be trying to connect people to the presence of God. I do totally agree with being creative with that and always trying to be better.
    I think the idea that its “always emotional” is really semantics. What I mean in this is that sometimes, like the Priests in the temple, it is our job (duty) to worship. We may worship and have 0 emotional attachment. Sometimes we are at 11!! The reality is though it is something we are to do. God loves it and it is good for us to please Him.
    Sometimes you don’t want to hold your wifes hand. Sometimes you don’t want to say “i love you” be we need to any way. It doesn’t matter what we get out of it because it is about sacrificing our wants and thats what real worship is. It is about laying down our selfish desires and offering ourselves up to God and worshiping him just because he is worthy to be worship without worrying about a “return” on that. He already gave us all we could ever want by the blood of Christ.

  7. Joel Klampert Avatar

    @matt anderson great thoughts man… and it is very much a fault of the leaders for not teaching more about the truth of worship.
    I get the consumerism but I also know that it’s in that we will always have a hard time believing in the POWER through it

  8. Joel Klampert Avatar

    @alastair Dude you are SOOOO right. seriously how COOL would that be. and we know God is the same yesterday and today and we could see that now!

  9. Joel Klampert Avatar

    @jason and @mike…

    DOn’t misconstrue my idea of emotion… I believe 100% in emotive worship, but I also think it can be fabricated. I want to in my worship, when it is emotive, be real and when I cant be emotive Worship because i need to any way

  10. FrMatt Avatar

    Great post! You are hitting something really important. In Orthodox spirituality this thing you describe is called prelest. IN many ways this sort of worship creates the belief that we are more spiritual than we actually are. It is no surprising that we praise God with highly emotive passionate music, we live in a culture that is awash in the passions. In other words we are worshiping out of the “passive” (of the passions) part of the human person. I think passionate worship has its place. It is not unlike the erotic language of Christian mystics, but if this is what we are living on it is like having a relationship built on sex alone. We want God to rock our world week after week but we are not willing to fast, read the word, endure hardship, eat less, or practice self-control. A marriage lives on the mundane. Without occasional sex it dies, but if that is all it is built on it is already dead.

  11. David Santistevan Avatar

    Well said, Joel. Convicting. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if our weekdays fueled our weekends. What if every member of the church showed up, not to be whipped into a worship frenzy, but ready to encounter God?

  12. Laura Chambers Avatar

    There are some songs that just drive me absolutely insane with emotion, and I know that there’s a place for feelings. But if you can combine that music with words that mean something, and not just focus on how easy it is to memorize, that’s what matters.

  13. Bridget Willard Avatar

    I agree. Worship is for God primarily; not for us.
    Side affects of peace, joy, and contentment may ensue but are not guaranteed.

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