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Why Worship: What Is Worship?

We are so grateful to welcome Canyon Hills Worship of Canyon Hills Community Church to this 5 part series. We are jumping right in to the topic of worship. What is worship? How should we define it? Let’s dig in!

Show Notes:

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Kobe: We come to worship, Not only is it just ascribing to God what he is due, but it’s also understanding we’re not here to just receive something from God. We ascribe the Lord the glory, due his name. It’s what we owe him. So, requires a certain posture of humility to be able to come in and go, God, in spite of everything that I’m living with right now, these things are still true.

Narrator: Welcome to Purposely Equipped. We want to help you go deeper in your faith by learning truth from the Bible. Our new series, Why Worship, will help us discover what the Bible has to say about the importance of worship in building a relationship with Jesus. Canyon Hills Worship will be joining us for this five-part series. No matter where you are on your journey, this is a topic that can greatly impact your walk with the Lord.

Kobe: Hey there everyone. Welcome to Purposely Equipped. My name’s Kobe. I’m with Canyon Hills Worship, and we are so blessed to be a part of this five-week podcast series on worship. We’re just excited and honestly honored and privileged to be a part of it. We by no means feel like we are the authorities on all things worship. We are still learning and growing a ton. However, we are as worshipers learning and leading our church and are just excited to talk about this with all of you. So, there’s a few of us here in the room. I just wanna go around and give you a quick second to just talk about just who you and share a little bit about how you got here and what you do here.

Michael: Okay. I’ll start. I’m Michael. I’m a worship leader as well here at Canyon Hills, which we all are. And you’ll see a trend in that.

Kobe: There’s a thread that runs through this.

Michael: Love writing music here as well. Yeah, basically. I, I do music, but and I love it. Yeah.

Chelsea: I’m Chelsea, I’m also a worship leader on staff here, and I get to work with worship interns, as well as leader worship with my best friends. So, it’s pretty good.

Kobe: Best. Best are the best, right?

Chelsea: Yeah. My favorite people.

Michael: Can’t wait to meet them someday.

Alicia: My name is Alicia. I’m also a worship leader and yeah, lead in main service and oversee college worship. So, that’s a lot of fun.

Kobe: Yeah, and I’m, like I said, I’m Kobe and I’m the worship pastor here, and you’re gonna see this a little bit of crossover. This is Canyon Hills worship, but we are all on staff at Canyon Hills Community Church. And this is in all of what makes it Canyon Hills worship. This is just a portion of it, but. So, as we just say, Canyon Hills moving forward, hopefully that removes any confusion. More confusion than being in a place that’s not near any canyons or any hills.

Michael: Definitely next to some hills.

Kobe: Very far away. Hills. Yeah.

Alicia: None that are drastic.

Kobe: Obviously, honestly, Business Park Community Church didn’t sound as appealing, I’m assuming when they put it all together. Alright, so, today we’re talking about what is worship, but as we go through this, there’s gonna be different kind of combinations of us going through these different topics, and I just want to give an opportunity for people to get to know each individual person a little bit more. So, Michael, start with you. You’re gonna be kind of walking through a few of these episodes with us, but you already kind of shared a little bit who you are. How did you get here? How did you get to leading worship at the church? How did you get to writing songs for Canyon Hills Worship? And then the follow-up question is, what’s the most embarrassing slash funny moment you’ve ever had in worship or on stage?

Michael: All right. How did I get here? It’s kind of, it’s kind interesting. Like I feel like I’ve always been here. My parents, Lenny and Susie, shout out if you’re listening, they were actually the first missionaries for the church here, Canyon Hills Community Church. They left for Santiago, Chile from our mother church. Is that what you’d call it, I guess?

Kobe: Sure.

Michael: Mother Church

Kobe: From the mothership.

Michael: From the mothership. Overlake, back in the day. And then ended up being the first missionaries that Canyon Hills supported. Then when we, when we moved back to the states, we, were here. We were here at Canyon Hills. And I attended some other churches, like in high school, but was always involved here at Canyon Hills and in middle school. Started leading worship here and kind of got good training in that and was leading worship at school as well. And yeah, it was, I feel like I’ve just kind of always been here. Like, I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t at Canyon Hills Community Church, which is, it’s a pretty interesting thing. Yeah. And I just started leading worship at a young age here and eventually got some guidance from this guy, Kobe Ore. Still

Kobe: shout out if he’s listening.

Michael: Shout out. Shout out if he’s listening. Yeah, and I’ve been on staff, on staff here for about seven years, coming up this month, I think seven years. Yeah, it’s crazy. Long time yeah. And writing music. Like I’ve always, I’ve always loved writing music. I just, I started doing that like at a very young age, writing for my punk pop band that I was in. And yeah, I was like super fun. And then I always kind of was scared to, to write worship music. And I remember the first song that I ever wrote on, or like helped with, I think was on an early album, Victory, maybe? Something like that. And I think this song was Hope Arises, It’s like that’s a, that’s a cut. Like, if you, if you know that one, you’re like a, you’re a real listener of Canyon Hills Worship.

Kobe: Which means you’re probably on staff here and we already know you.

Michael: Yeah. Yeah. But yeah, and then I just kind of like, I think I started to realize that like, I don’t need to be that scared about writing worship music. And like if anyone out there is listening and is like scared to write worship music, it’s not as scary as you think. We can get into songwriting later, but that’s kind of how I got here and love being here.

Kobe: Very quickly, what’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened?

Michael: There’s been like a lot of embarrassing moments on stage, like just like fumbling over words or something. Like, one time I was saying like just trying to get people to look at the screens, and I, for some reason could not remember how to say, look at the screen. So, I stood there like, and no go ahead and Direct your gaze to the screens. And it was just like, such a strange way to say that.

Kobe: One of the strangest Yeah, yeah.

Michael: Yeah. Super weird. There’s been sometimes when got off stage realized my fly was open. There’s been sometimes when the click just started playing through the speakers through the PA and like that is just like so mortifying, just standing there and all of a sudden he just,

Chelsea: everyone knows our secrets before.

Michael: Yeah. I’m like, oh no. And then you just kind of gotta play it off like you meant that to happen. Yeah. I don’t know.

Kobe: Well today we’re talking about, we’re, we’re answering the question, what is worship? Which is an interesting question to start with because worship is such a broad term. When you say worship, you really have to clarify because it could mean a hundred different things to a hundred different people. So, just kind of narrow narrowing the focus for the, for the bulk of this podcast, we’re gonna do five pieces here, but at least for the first four, what we’re addressing is specifically what is worship within the context of the corporate gathering in the church. We’re not really talking about worship as a lifestyle yet. We will get to that later. For right now, we’re talking about the experience of the people of God, as we individually come together into the house of the Lord. And collectively turn our attention and our affection towards the Lord. So, that’s kind of the direction that we’re gonna head. We’re not talking worship as a lifestyle. We’re talking about it as an individual and congregational experience.

So, with that said, and maybe I’ve kind of given it away, hopefully I didn’t, but sometimes it’s easy to find what worship is not. Like, I think there’s a lot of common misconceptions about what worship in the church, what worship in the building, what constitutes successful worship, what’s expected. And so, I guess to just kind of throw that out there, is there anything, Can we start with the negative? What do we think? What, what is worship? Not, And then maybe turn our attention to the positive.

Michael: What is worship? Not, it’s not a performance. That’s for one. Just to clarify a little bit further, we’re talking worship music. Yes. Worship music in the church. Cuz like obvi, I feel like, The whole service is worship.

Kobe: Yes. Amen.

Michael: But we’re talking worship music. What is, what is not?

Kobe: But that’s a huge one. It’s not a production. Yeah, it’s not a performance. Because I think one of the dangers in modern churches, you walk in and you see lights and you see sound, and you see all this staging and you see people decently dressed, and it can be very easy from the outside looking in to think that the people on stage, at the very least, think it’s a show.

Chelsea: I think too, with that, it’s not just singing lyrics on a screen. Like it’s easy to come in and passively do that, but it’s not just about like, Oh, we’re just singing these four songs and then we’re done. Like that’s not worship.

Kobe: One of my favorite moments in all of my time here as a worship leader was after service, service ended, and we were just kind of down milling around talking with some people and this guy comes walking up, he’s like, Hey, I’d like to join the worship team. And I was like, Oh wow. Alright. Great place to have this conversation. What’s your name? Got to know each other a little bit. Why do you wanna join the worship team? Like, where have you, have you served her before? Nope. I’ve never done that before. Have you ever sung before? No, not really. So, what, what makes you wanna do? He goes, Well, I was watching you guys up there and it just kind of seems like glorified karaoke and I’m pretty good at karaoke. And I was like, Okay, well sir, that in, sir, that’s massively insulting for what we do.

Michael: Slapped you on the face. Walk away.

Kobe: Yeah. But so yes, it is.

Chelsea: It’s not karaoke. It’s not karaoke,

I mean, I think that’s a great story to just kind of say, worship isn’t about us. It’s not about our preferences, it’s not about our favorite songs. Sometimes I know all of us have led songs that maybe aren’t our favorite musically, but like the truths that we’re singing are what we know our hearts need to be reminded of, and what the church needs to be reminded of. And those are some of the Sundays where I feel even like the most encouraged knowing it’s not about us, but it’s about the truth of who God is.

Kobe: Yeah. And when you say it’s not about us, it’s not, We’re not just saying it’s not about the people on stage, which is true.

Alicia: Yeah.

Kobe: But I think the thing that gets missed in that is it’s also not about the people in the congregation.

Alicia: Yeah.

Kobe: Like ultimately, like even as you come in as a worshiper, we live in such a consumer society that we evaluate churches based on, do I like the message? Do I like the music? Do I like the presentation? When the reality is when we come to church, we’re supposed to be bringing an offering to the Lord. And we get blessed in that for sure, but that’s not the, We’re not coming to receive…

Alicia: can’t strive after the blessing, like of going into church, wanting to just be blessed by worship, or the preaching or whatever. I think the other thing too, it’s easy for worship to feel like just chasing after like a feeling. And if we didn’t feel something, then like worship wasn’t good. But the reality is that worship isn’t About feelings or emotions. That might be a part of it, but that’s not what encompasses worship in general.

Michael: Yeah, but to, not to refute that point, but also, it’s like…

Kobe: Not to tell you that you’re wrong, but here’s where you’re wrong. But if you’re wrong,

Michael: but if you, but if you’re not feeling something, if you, if, if your worship is like, it shouldn’t be fueled by emotion, but it should, it should elicit emotion.

Alicia: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, sure.

Michael: So, it shouldn’t be devoid of emotion. And I feel like especially in the conservative Christian Church we see a lot of like fear of emotion, and fear of charisma, which is, which is such an interesting thing cuz like, you even see like how David worshiped. He was literally stripping down and dancing. Like, he’s like so emotional and like, praise alone, an actual actual translation of the text. What’s the Michael Monroe translation?

Alicia: Stripping down and dancing.

Michael: No, but it’s like, it’s like, it should be, so like if your, if your relationship with your wife is void of emotion, like that’s not a relationship. That’s a partnership. Or a, like a transaction.

Chelsea: You’re tolerating each transactional relationship at most.

Michael: You know, it’s like, and if we’re talking about literally praising an almighty God, like that should have so much emotion attached to it. But yeah, I can’t, it can’t necessarily be only about that.

Kobe: It should be a regular and present byproduct, but it can’t be what the pursuit is. Like a certain emotion is not what determines whether worship is successful or not successful. However, when we are worshiping, it should be borderline impossible to do that. Because I think one of the things that you kind of got to there, Chelsea, is worship also is not just an ascension of true things. Yeah, I’m seeing things, lyrics on the screen or in the hymnal, and I agree with these things that they are true. Therefore, I am in, since I’m intellectually agreeing, I am worshiping. We’re gonna get to it more in one of the later episodes of how we worship. But worship cannot simply worship, cannot be passive. There’s nothing about worship that is passive. You don’t see that in scripture anywhere, and you, we certainly shouldn’t see that in experience.

So, then switching gears and kind of turning the corner, biblically speaking, how would we define worship?

Alicia: I think biblically speaking, it’s ascribing worth to the Lord. Like I was looking through just some passages about worship and kind of just being reminded about what it is we do when we come together. Like what is the point of even corporately gathering? And you see so many times in scripture, Especially when Paul is talking to the church and he’s calling them to gather together to preach the truth to worship and truth. But I love just what it says in Psalm 29:1-2, and it says, “Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings. Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” And like that’s what we gather to do. We gather to ascribe worth the Lord. And there’s something powerful about both doing that in our own individual worship time, but then coming together as the body, as the church, and ascribing worth to God all in one voice. And I even that like picture of like as we do that, all of heaven is worshiping. And like what a cool picture of coming together and giving God the glory that’s due His name. Like that’s what it’s about.

Kobe: Yeah. I think that’s a great definition. And what’s interesting about that is there is no prerequisite to being able to worship then. Mm-hmm. , because you can do that in any and every season of life. Right. Like you can do that having argued with your spouse in the parking lot. Having chased your child through the lobby as they embarrassingly run like a banshee to the children’s ministry. Right? Like, you can do all of that, but then you step into the worship center, you step into the corporate gathering, and you can make the decision to ascribe to the Lord the glory, due his name. That doesn’t require we be in a specific emotional state. That doesn’t require that we be in a specific mental state. That just requires that we be in a humble enough state to be able to set all of those things aside and be able to step into what the Lord deserves, which is the description of the glory to his name.

Michael: Hmm. That’s good.

Kobe: Anyone else have anything to add to that?

Chelsea: Overarching, it is like sacrifice, right? Of even like what you’re saying of even if you did have a rough time getting into church, and your feelings are anger or whatever it might be; you’re laying those things down and you’re ascribing worship and the worth of God back to him. And I’m even encouraged by Romans 12:1 where it says, “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.” And I feel like that’s just what we’re called to do. We’re offer to offer. Our bodies are a living sacrifice to him.

Kobe: And I think that sacrifice is a huge piece. I just brought to mind, I was reading Psalm 51 yesterday, not that the Backstory’s super necessary, but David messes up with Bathsheba but he’s confessing to the Lord and he acknowledges this at the end of the Psalm 51, as he kind of turns his heart back to worship, he says, For you will not delight in just sacrifice or I would give it, you will pleased with the burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. Oh God, you will not despise. So, I think what you’re keying in on there is when we come to worship, not only is it just ascribing to God what he is due, but it’s also understanding we’re not here to just receive something from God. We ascribe the Lord the glory, do his name. It’s what we owe him. So, it requires a certain posture of humility to be able to come in and go, God, in spite of everything that I’m living with right now, in spite of every season and circumstance that I’m struggling with, these things are still true. Yeah. I will still sing these truths to you. I will still offer myself to you because your worth is not dependent on my circumstance. You look like you’re about to say something.

Michael: No. I’m not, I was just listening.

Alicia: No, but I think it is that like heart posture cuz that no matter what season you’re in, like you can come with that heart posture before the Lord of just like, whatever you’re facing, like whatever you’re going through, like I know that he’s worthy and I’m gonna come into this place with a contrite spirit. I’m gonna come into this place with just a heart of like surrender and sacrifice. And that I think not only changes your worship, but it deepens your worship when you, like, enter with that kind of, yeah, that kind of heart posture before the Lord. I think it changes how you then ascribe worth.

Michael: That’s interesting, cuz as we’re talking about like no matter what your, like, no matter what like your previous circumstances are looking like, as you’re going into like a time of worship, There’s gonna be a lot of people listening to this who are not having the best time right now. Who are not…

Kobe: most people probably.

Michael: Yeah. It’s been a, it’s been a crazy time in our world. Like, honestly, like this, this past season for me has not been easy either. I think that. That lament is also a big portion that we tend to ignore sometimes in, because it is kind of a tough thing to do in a corporate worship setting. But it is so important, like being able to like, to acknowledge like, Lord, I feel, I feel like you’re neglecting me right now. Lord, I feel like this is happening. I feel like you’re hiding your face from me. I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve seen you do anything in my life. But I know that you are, God. I know that your plans are good. That kind of, I don’t know, Davidic, lament is like so important I think in, in worship as well.

Kobe: Well, and that just speaks to, I think, one of the values of worship, of what is worship, right? Like one of the values of acknowledging what is true is it is a prospective shifter on life. When you’re willing to say these things out loud. Like, I think sometimes worship leaders or worship teams can get kind of a bad rep when we look like we’re always up there with like a perma grin on our face, having the best day ever. That’s not true. However, we have the benefit of having to sing true things in spite of what we’re feeling in any given moment. And as you sing and proclaim those things out loud, it’s hard for your heart not to be encouraged and transformed and uplifted. And so, I think like what? What I take from everything, and even you just said right now, Mike, is remembering that when we come to worship, we’re not being asked to worship as if life outside the church isn’t happening. Worship as if I’m not suffering out here. Worship as if my marriage is not in trouble. It’s saying worship in all of those things. Be willing to be humble. Be willing to acknowledge what should be willing to give God the glory that he is due while living in that reality.

Michael: If you’re a worship leader out there and like you’re struggling with this question of, Hey, I don’t, I don’t feel like I should be leading worship right now because of these circumstances I’m going through, or because, I mean, obviously we’re not talking like unrepentant sin, but we’re talking like,

Kobe: because I’m not qualified to.

Michael: No, if you, if you feel like you’re in a season of pain and hurt and like, you feel like you, you can’t lead right now, use that as like a tool. Like be honest with your congregation. Be honest. Be like, Hey, listen, I know a lot of you in this room are probably feeling the same way I am right now, and this is how I’m feeling. And this is what, what the Bible says about what, what, what, who God is through this. Like that, that is such an effective tool for ministry. I think. Like, just, just honesty of like, Not pretending. Not having that perma-grin on your face. Like literally just saying like, Hey guys, I’m going through a really hard time right now. I could use your prayers and I know a lot of you in this room are going through a hard time as well. Let’s worship.

Kobe: Because I think that, and that’s kind of where I wanna land. So, we gotta wrap this up where I wanted to land this podcast episode. If we were to offer advice to another worship ministry, if you are listening to this and you are a vocational worship leader, which I hope that there are some of you listening what Mike just spoke to, That’s it. Like our primary, what, when we asked the question, what is worship? Worship is not just simply singing songs for your church. Worship is offering the hope of the gospel to your church through song. And so, to Michael’s point, again, we feel like sometimes we have to put aside our own suffering to lead from this imaginary place of maturity. When the reality is we’re supposed to be setting the example as we are leading in others in worship, we are offering ourselves hope, and believing that whatever hope that the Lord needs to offer to us, is hope that our church also needs to hear. And so, we share with them what we’re learning and trust that the Lord’s honored and all of that.

Chelsea: And that makes you a better leader, I think in the end, because one, you’re leading from an honest place. The Lord is going to use that. But your church is also like, I can’t think of how many times just we’ve been honest at different times with the church about different things we’re facing, and then someone will come up after, or write an email later and say like that, I’m going through something like that too. And that was so encouraging. Or what, you know, whatever they might say. To be genuine with your church. Like that’s the, I think the greatest thing you can do as a leader, to lead them genuinely through what you’re facing and how you’re turning back to the Lord in that. Like that’s what the Lord would ask of us, and just to faithfully do that, like he’s gonna then do what he wants to do with it.

Kobe: Yeah. So last question then and we’ll answer this one a little bit, hopefully a little more succinct, cuz we do have to land this plane. While there may be some vocational worship leaders listening this podcast, there’s probably far more church attenders listening this podcast. So, if we were to encourage and offer advice to any church attender who just wants to grow in their, I would say, biblical obedience in worship, right? If you just want to be a biblically obedient worshiper, who’s more intentional in their worship? What would you share with them?

Michael: Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind is like, don’t put your leaders on a pedestal. Like, I know, like its kind of, it kind of ties into what you’re saying, but I have noticed that when I start to get into this mentality where I guess like, especially as, as, as a younger attender of church, I would see the people on stage as like, that is the ultimate version of holy. That they must be so close to God and then it kind of almost removed me from, from worship. Like it,

Kobe: It made you more of an observer?

Michael: Yeah. I started, I started to get into this like observation mentality, whereas like once I realized when I became friends with people who were on that stage, I’m like, Oh, they’re just as imperfect as I am. This is awesome. Like we’re worshiping together. Like, don’t go into church thinking, I’ll never achieve that level. Like I, I, I’ll never be as close to guys as they are. Like, go into church just to worship and to praise together. Yeah.

Chelsea: I’d say just like participate, like join in, don’t miss the opportunity to even if you don’t love the song or whatever you don’t like, it’s a little version or, or you know. Participate, like be a part of it, don’t be an observer, and the Lord is gonna work on your heart. And that like there have been many times where I even leading, like don’t feel like coming in and worshiping that morning and yet I had to do it. And like the Lord works on your heart in that. But you have to be willing to step into that and just go, You know what, like maybe I don’t feel it today, or I don’t love these songs, or whatever it might be. Just choosing to like press into that and step into that. And the Lord like, will work on your heart in that. And asking for the Lord to work on your heart if you feel like that’s something you’re struggling with having. Like a heart for worship, like praying and asking for that.

Alicia: Yeah, and I would say too, worship doesn’t just happen on Sunday mornings. Like start at home. Put on worship music there…

Kobe: Or listen to SPIRIT 105.3.

Alicia: Yeah. Or even like, I mean this is a little different of the lifestyle, but even like serving your community or your neighbors. What can you do to love them well? Or serve your church. Or even having a heart of gratitude when things are going poorly. Cuz I know when I’m struggling changing my view to things that I’m grateful for. And even if that’s just the gift of salvation… changes my whole perspective. And I think that kind of gets your heart ready for Sunday morning, to worship corporately. But finding ways at home that you can be worshiping to.

Kobe: And I think that common thread has kind of sat through that of making the decision to participate because ultimately, it’s not for us. Yeah, yeah. The songs are not for you. The production is not for you. Like the prayers are not for you. This is a time for us to encounter the living God, and you can choose to not participate, but you are the one that’s missing out. At that point, if you’re choosing not to step in, then you’re the one that’s missing out, and you’re withholding from God something that he delights in. Yeah. So, I think that’s great. I think make that, make that step, make that participation. So, alright, well we’ll wrap this up. Thanks to all of you. Everyone here in the room is gonna participate in different podcasts throughout this next five-week series. Next week we’re gonna be looking at the topic, why should we worship? So, kind of getting a little bit more after the motivation we’re looking forward. But yeah, thanks for, I don’t know, this podcast. Are you tuning in?

Alicia: You’re tuning in.

Kobe: Thank you for hitting play.

Alicia: Listening.

Kobe: Listen, thanks for listening. Listen, it’s much better. Now turn your gaze to…

Narrator: Again, special thanks to our hosts for this series, Canyon Hills Worship. Don’t forget to check out their music on Spotify or Apple Music, or anywhere you listen to music digitally. Thank you for downloading Why Worship; a Purposely Equipped series. Let’s keep growing in our faith together. Purposely Equipped is part of Purposely a podcast network with practical podcasts, to help you find and live in God’s purpose for your life. Find more podcasts and faith resources at

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