Why So Many Words in Worship?

Over at the Gospel Coalition blog Kevin DeYoung gives 25 reasons why words are so important in our corporate worship. Here are some samples:

All the corporate worship we know of in the early church is saturated with words. While there are many things we don’t know about the worship of the early church in the Bible, we do know that they devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42). We know they were devoted to the public reading of Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13). We know they brought hymns, words of instruction, revelations, tongues and interpretations (1 Cor. 14:26). In other words, while we can make inferences and prudential judgments about the role of visual arts in worship, we know for certain that their gatherings were infused with words.

Paul places a high value on maximum intelligibility in corporate worship (1 Cor. 14:1-25). There are times and places for ambiguity and subtlety. Corporate worship, however, is for proclamation. And words are the least ambiguous (though not always crystal-clear themselves) means by which the truth can be proclaimed. Dance can honor God, painting can praise our Maker, and music can please the Lord, but no other art form can proclaim the truth with as much shared intelligibility as words. Even the parables, which are often cited as encouragement for using stories and drama, were too ambiguous. That’s why Jesus told parables: to be unclear. “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you,” Jesus told his disciples. “But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven” (Mark 4:11-12).

Read the rest here.

One Response to Why So Many Words in Worship?

  1. Carri December 7, 2009 at 3:34 AM #

    I once had a soundman tell me the songs we worshiped to had alot of words to which I replied, “yes I know and that’s good”. But I don’t think he agreed. When songs are sung that actually have depth and good theological content it is NOTICED. Because it stands as such a stark contrast to what is being sung in so many churches today. We cal them “Jesus is my boyfriend” kind of songs. So thank God for good wordy songs. It’s got to be better than the shallow mindless songs being sung today.

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