I (Worship Ministries Pastor Wayne Berry) was privileged to study under Professor Robert Webber for three years through his Institute for Worship Studies. When he taught he had a tool that he used to help everyone in his classes get on the same page. He would mention what he called a “working definition” which he would then present to his classes. Those definitions weren’t meant to be the last word on a topic. Rather, they were fashioned in order to help his students know what his personal perspective was as he developed the subject(s) he was teaching. I’ve used that tool for years in my own teaching. Here are two “working definition” for praise & worship that I’d like for you to know. I received them in seed form from Dr. Morris Smith during my studies at Elim Bible Institute in the early ‘80’s. Over the last 3 decades I have made some adjustments to them. Remember, this is a “process” of study, so there needs to be a little wiggle room here and there.
WORSHIP is the process by which the gospel of the Lord Christ Jesus and the truths of God’s kingdom are passed into the lives of the believers through holy living, sacrificial offerings of adoration and exaltation, and obedient acts of service.
PRAISE is the celebrative response to the God of that kingdom (Romans 12:1 / The Message Bible).
They are not separate actions from one another. Rather, they are distinct in form and presentation. They are individual manifestations of the same substance. Think two sides of the same coin and you’ll have it.
Some additional thoughts:
“Praise is great when the subject of the songs consists of great matter, when the hearts producing them are intensely fervent, and when large numbers unite in their grand acclaim. No chorus is too loud, no orchestra too large, no Psalm too lofty for lauding the Lord of hosts.” (Charles Spurgeon, 1870’s)
“Worship is a verb” (Professor Robert Webber)
“Worship is the valuing of God” (John Piper / Pastor & Theologian)
“Worship is the life-blood of the church” (Ronnie Meek / Lead Pastor of Springhouse Worship & Arts Center)
“Worship is the new sacrament of the present day church” (Chuck Fromm / Managing editor of Worship Leader Magazine)
“Worship is the human response to the perceived presence of a divine being.” (Chuck Pierce)
“Praise is the spark plug of faith. It is the one thing needed to get faith airborne, enabling it to soar above deadly doubt. Praise is the detergent which purifies faith and purges doubt from the heart. The secret of answered prayer is faith without doubt (Mark 11:23). And the secret of faith without doubt is praise — continuous, massive, triumphant praise, praise that is a way of life.” (Paul E. Billheimer)