What is Experiential Worship?
Hello Dr. Easley, I’m trying to understand the term, “experiential worship”. Can you help me understand?
We’re not going to look at a dozen theology books, consult theologians, etc. and find one answer to this question. Experiential Christians means men/women who look to their experience as God leading or saying things to them. They let their daily experience have authority in their lives. So when they pray for a sign and a red bird they’ve never seen lands on the window sill, they take that as a word from God.
Scripture, not experience, is the only authority. Experiences are great when they “work out” but they have no biblical authority in our lives.
If we take that idea into worship, perhaps people “experience God” or “feel closer to God” or are somehow transcended into some kind of feelings and emotions that they “really worshiped.”
If we’re focusing on the song-worship experience, we have undoubtedly watched folks get very wrapped up, emotional, happy… when they sing/worship. On one hand, it’s great that they are singing good theology, good words, praising God, worshiping Him through song. In fact, this is perhaps the one demonstrable form of corporate worship. True, sitting under the exposition of the Word is a corporate worship, but in singing, there is the participation of the believer. Throughout the Psalter, we are reading a theological songbook that also includes history, specific events, and the life of the believer.
Worship is a choice. Each time a Psalm says, “I will sing praises” we might miss the choice of the author. “I will” is declarative. We sing of God, His attributes, character, kindness… Yes, we have personal content in the Psalms – a lament for example, but the focus is on Him, not self. Self comes in as we approach, ask, repent, praise, lament… but our foundation should be clearly worship of God, not self.
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