Put Worshipers In Their Place


third place

We are losing ground if we exhaust all worship resources preparing and leading church services as worship while neglecting to prepare and lead the church in service as worship. Our worship leadership success will never be completely realized until we can say, “worship has left the building.”

If those of us who lead gathered worship are not careful, our actions can imply that time and place Sunday worship is the primary, if not only venue for worship, while the remainder of our life falls into another category.[1]

When writing about building relationships in social environments, Ray Oldenburg outlined various places where we connect with others in society. He calls the first place a person’s home and family. The second place is the workplace or school, where people may actually spend most of their time. And the third place is an informal location that is always welcoming and comforting.[2]

Can you imagine what could occur in that hour on Sunday if worshipers learned how to worship in those other places the other 6 days and 23 hours of the week? Harold Best wrote, “Because God is the Continuous Outpourer, we bear his image as continuous outpourers.”[3]

Worship leaders…we must teach them, lead them, exhort them and model for them how we can worship not only when we meet but also when we disperse. Neither should be minimized, as both are indeed places for worship. The divide, however, is when we expend all resources on our weekly gathering and have nothing left for what should be a daily occurrence.

Worshiping in other places should never require us to compromise biblically, theologically or doctrinally but will often require us to accommodate culturally, contextually and systematically. When worship occurs in those other places it is no longer just what we do in here but also who we are out there. Then what occurs in here on Sunday is an overflow of what has already occurred out there during the week.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). 


[1] Harold M. Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 9.

[2] Ray Oldenburg, The great good place: Cafés, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts At the Heart of A Community (New York: Marlowe,1999).

[3] Best, Unceasing Worship, 23.


3 Responses to “Put Worshipers In Their Place”

  • Robert Sullivan Says:

    Good word! kind of reminds me of a quote that I have seen all over the place that says “preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words”.

    Worship is about so much more than just the congregational worship services. Those are just an expression of our worship. Our true worship is defined by how we live our lives and our true object of worship can be determine by following the trail of where, and what, we spend the most time, money, and energy on.

  • Rob Still Says:

    This is so good David! “Worship has left the building” Yes!

    I think this is the mindset and vision we need to have. One challenge I find as “a guy in the trenches” is that the time/energy requirement just to produce worship in the building leaves little margin for takin’ it to the streets. Lamentable, but real. What would you suggest?

  • Tom Frye Says:

    So true! I have said for many years, Worship is not an hour on Sunday, nor is it a style of music, but an attitude lived out by a thankful heart. I even wrote a song a few years ago about this very thought. http://youtu.be/uyjCbSeIIC0

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