- 8 Baptist congregations
- 2 Independent Baptist congregations
- 1 Southern Baptist congregation
- 6 Roman Catholic congregations
- 2 Christian Disciples of Christ congregations
- 6 Episcopalian congregations
- 2 Lutheran congregations
- 5 United Methodist congregations
- 7 Non-denominational congregations
- 1 Greek Orthodox congregation
- 1 Pentecostal congregation
- 5 Presbyterian congregations
Lately, the trend seems to be ditching the world "church" and branding yourself a "worship center". Perhaps it is an attempt to make church seem a bit more approachable and "customer friendly", but I can't help but think it is an attempt to be trendy and "relevant". It also makes me wonder what is understood by "worship", and the cynical side of me is fairly sure that it is the touchy-feely, U2-lite sing song version of "worship" that prevails.
On my way in to the office this morning, I drove past a church, sorry "worship center", with a sign saying at said meeting place you could "enjoy Christ-centered worship here". Perhaps I am over egging the pudding a bit, but I find that sign mildly disturbing. Let's start with the idea of that worship is something you "enjoy". When you look at the dictionary definition of "worship" there are words like "pay homage", "reverence", "honour" and "adore", there isn't anything about actually "enjoying" the act of worship, especially given that "enjoy" means to "experience pleasure for oneself". The very thought of "enjoying" worship seems almost antithetical, if not downright oxymoronic. That's not to say that worship should be dull and lifeless, but rather that to "enjoy" it is to bring the focus on the individual rather than the object of worship.
The second part of the slogan again seems pretty innocuous, but could also be read as a sly dig at other churches, I mean "worship centers" (please note I am only using the American spelling of "centre" because that is the context in which I have seen these titles). Is the worship at the meeting place in question more Christian than at other churches which don't feel the need to state the obvious? Surely for Christian congregations, all worship is "Christ-centered" because Jesus of Nazareth is the basis of the religion?
Again then we come back to that word "worship" and its meaning, but first a little etymology. The origins of the word lie back in the days of Old English and the word "weorthscipe", which can itself be broken into "weorþ" and "scieppan". The word "weorþ" when used as an adjective means "worthy, honoured, noble, honourable, of high rank; valued, dear, precious; fit, capable", while "scieppan" is a verb that means "to shape, form, make, create". Put the two words together and you have the idea of making something honourable, something worthy, something precious. Note, there is no enjoyment here, but rather paying due homage to a superior. Eventually "weorthscipe" morphed into "worthship" and from there the modern "worship".
So what would be a good definition of "worship"? Well, I would propose something along the lines of "paying due homage to a person worthy of receiving it", hence the word "worship" does not have a uniquely ecclesiastical usage. Going back to the time of Chaucer, at the very beginnings of English literature, "worship" was used as an honorific title for mayors, which was eventually extended also to Justices of the Peace and magistrates. As such, worship is an act of respect, not something from which to gain gratification.