This idea is adapted from what Gordon MacDonald identified as the six "leading instincts of the soul." He developed the insight that there are “worship styles” that lead people to prefer worshiping God along six different lines.
Let’s call these the “worship languages” that most, and best, allow us to connect with Almighty God. As you read them, see if you can pick out your two or three main worship languages…
1. The Aesthetic. The aesthetic instinct seeks to be overwhelmed by the majesty of God. They are happiest when the worship environment includes beauty, order, tradition, and artistic integrity. This person may say, “I feel closest to God when I’m hiking in the mountains,” or, “I really love the old hymns.”
2. The Experientialist. The experientialist wants to "feel" the presence of God and respond with a full range of emotions, including clapping, singing, prayer, weeping, laughing, and more. This person might say, “I love going to Christian concerts and listening to Christian radio.”
3. The Activist. The activist sees everything through the lens of service. The world needs to be changed, and they feel closest to God when making a contribution to the work of the kingdom. This person will likely say something like, “I never feel closer to God than when I’m up putting new shingles on a widow’s roof.”
4. The Contemplative. The contemplative cherishes the inner life, opening up to God in the quiet of his own soul, and sensing God's presence. They are impressed by the mystery of God. This person will say, “I feel closest to God during my private devotions."
5. The Student. The student loves truth. The study of the Bible forms the core of this person's worship style. Happiness is found in a church which emphasizes the preaching and teaching of the Word. This person often says, “Nothing makes me more alive than a new insight into the truth of God’s Word.”
6. The Relationalist. The relational person finds God most present when people are bonded together in fellowship, worship, or mutual support. They are torn when there is conflict, lifted high when the walls come down. This person might say, “I just love hanging out with my brothers and sisters.” They’re often the ones lingering long after the meeting or service adjourns!
How did you do? What is your main “worship language” and why?
Until every church disciples every man…
Patrick Morley, PhD
Chairman & Co-CEO, Man in the Mirror
1 Gordon MacDonald, Christ Followers In The Real World, (Nashville: Oliver Nelson, a division of Thomas Nelson, 1990.)