Worship: Vertical and Horizontal

A few weeks ago my wife and I got to attend a couple of the Moody Founder’s Week sessions in Chicago. As we worshipped with thousands of other believers I was so encouraged as I listened to people behind and beside me praising God. Although I didn’t know them personally, hearing my brothers and sisters in Christ praising God built me up.

This experience reminded me of a passage in Ephesians:

“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns,
and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the
Lord.” (Eph. 5:18-19)

I think this passage (and my experience in Chicago) illustrates that worship is both vertical and horizontal.

The scripture exhorts the believer to sing and make music from their heart to the Lord. This is the vertical aspect. We sing to God straight from our heart to His.

Yet, there’s a horizontal aspect as well. As we sing to God, the passage says that we will “speak to one another” with “psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” Not only do we speak to God in corporate worship, we speak to one another!

This is what was happening in Chicago recently. I was singing to God and worshipping him from my heart (vertical), but the believers around me were speaking to me and encouraging me as they sang to God (horizontal).

Beginning this coming weekend, our worship team is recording a live hymns album. We’ve been preparing for months for this and are so excited! One of the reasons why we wanted to record the album live is because this idea of vertical and horizontal worship will hopefully be captured on the project. There’s something about hearing not only the worship band singing to God, but the church as well, that is edifying.

Hearing our brothers and sisters praise God speaks to us, builds us up, and gives us a taste of what heaven will truly be like – multitudes lifting their hearts and voices to the central focal point of Jesus.


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