Role of Faith in Worship

Are faith and worship separate things, or are they connected? Learn about the important and central role of faith in worship.


Role of Faith in Worship

Role of Faith in Worship



As a Christian whether new, long-time, or somewhere in the middle, you’ll have heard the word FAITH more than a few times. While it is right to say Christianity is a relationship, it is also a ‘faith’, a religion. As Youth With a Mission (YWAM) and as Christians, we believe that the Creator of all things desires a relationship with us each. We believe this because we put faith in Jesus and His Gospel (‘Good News’) proclaimed for all people 2,000+ years ago. 



Let’s take a deeper look at faith as a concept and the word as it’s used in scripture. 

What is faith? To have it, belong to it, practice it? Faith, as we already covered, is also used to mean religion. What is religion? If you ask Google, it can be “a particular system of faith and worship.”

A religion is simply a set of beliefs/ truth claims that shapes how a person lives as a result. This echoes the words of James 2:26 “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” To be clear, we can do nothing to earn our salvation. 

Jesus did everything needed on our behalf. However, when we confess our faith in Him, we are pledging to live a life that reflects who He is. This looks like choosing to do that which we wouldn’t normally choose on our own ( serving others, operating with humility, prayer, scripture reading, asking forgiveness, etc. ) AND choosing not to do that which we normally would choose to do ( selfishness, greed, lust, pride, and other sins ).

Being a Christian is not only about avoiding sin but choosing to live righteously. We take medicine when we are sick, but healthy living is the best defense to sickness. To walk in the way of Jesus is our calling as Christ-followers, but grace has been given for when we fail. Within a DTS school, we maintain a culture of grace while calling each other to faithfully follow the way of Jesus.

This is one key aspect of what is meant by having faith in Jesus. The other is how those who heard first hand from Christ and the Apostles might have understood ‘faith.’ The Greek word PISTIS πίστις is the word we translate in English to FAITH. It certainly means ‘to believe’ or place ‘trust’ in something or someone. In the Gospels, Jesus marvels at the faith (PISTIS) or belief of both a Canaanite woman and a Roman centurion. 

In the Old Testament this same word expresses agreements/covenants made between God and Israel. It is often said of Israel that they have ‘broken faith’ with God or with their neighbor through sin. In this sense, faith could be said to be an agreement. This is how scripture describes the faith of Abraham in Genesis 12 and 15 where he and God enter into a covenant or agreement. So faith, from the Biblical perspective, is not only an agreement we arrive at in our heads, but it also includes how we posture our hearts and our lives. Abraham believed God and left his homeland in faithful obedience to God.

There’s another way to look at this word PISTIS (faith) from a historical usage of it in ancient Greek and Roman times. I won’t spend too much time on this, but felt led to mention it as a helpful perspective on how to view this idea expressed in the language of the Bible. 

Dr. Matthew Bate of Quincy University makes the case that this same word PISTIS could be given additional meaning in light of how it was used in the ancient world. He puts forth that ‘faith’ could be interpreted as ‘allegiance.’

This would have been a common concept as the world at that time was full of various political alliances and forced allegiance to the Roman empire. Pagan writers in the same time period used this same word to mean “pledge” and “assurance,” In a world where oaths were a big deal this makes sense. So, I think it is both right and helpful to look at our faith as a pledge to Jesus.



Central Thought:

Formally, the Faithful offered material sacrifice to God as worship. Song became a part of this and with the work Jesus accomplished on the Cross we now worship God primarily through our vocal praise

“Through him then let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” (Hebrews 13:15) 

It’s not often I consider my worship on a Sunday morning or in the quiet of my own home a form of sacrifice. Scripture is full of connections between worship and sacrifice and in the above passage we see that our praise IS sacrifice. In the past, Israel offered up animals to take their place in death. The blood of the creature was seen as payment for the sins of those who offered it.

The priest then placed the animal on the altar, burning it, with the smoke rising up to God’s space. This was the process by which a person and the nation was forgiven and made clean before God. With the death and resurrection of Jesus, the process by which we are forgiven has been forever established and completed. As forgiven and cleansed people, we now offer God our praise freely- no longer through an animal or material offering, but through our worship, primarily in song.

Peter Leithart of Notre Dame states, ”Israel’s offering of dead animals has been fulfilled in our living sacrifice, which is our reasonable act of worship (Romans 12:1-2)[2]” This passage in Paul’s letter to Rome states we now offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” to God. Jesus’ death has made the blood of animals irrelevant, as it is He who took our place on the Cross. His blood has made us clean whereby we are now able to enter into the Holy Space between God and Humankind.

This assurance of righteousness allows us to freely offer our heartfelt praises to Him. “What Israel did by offering animal blood, we do by offering our own breath. What they did by offering the fruit of the earth, we do by offering the fruit of our lips. What they did in shadow, we do in reality,” as Leithart writes.

Like the blood of animals, Christ’s sacrifice is the eternal means by which we are made right before God. Likewise, no longer are the priests required to send up smoke from the burnt offerings, but we, who are all called priests, lift up our praises to the Lord.

Leithart offers these words as a concluding thought, ”When the new covenant dawns, the shadows finally drop away and we are left with nothing but the reality—music and song as the true form of sacrifice.”



Central Thought:

If faith is not only a belief in our head, but also a way of living, then how we posture our heart and our bodies in worship is important.

How can our faith lead us to and aid us in worship? As we have said, faith and works are linked together. Throughout scripture, believers are commanded to avoid hypocrisy in their worship. Jesus condemned the religious leaders of his time for their legalism, yet failure to take care of elderly parents, the poor, and other vulnerable people.

Likewise, Paul writes to new Christians that it is inappropriate to gather for the Lord’s Supper while ignoring the hunger of their poor members. In another place, he commands believers to leave their gifts at the altar and take care of any issues between other Christians before worshiping God. These actions are right to do before coming to God in worship, “how can those who hate their brother who they can see, claim to know God who can’t be seen?” says 1 John 4.


When we come together as a body, our worship is enhanced by the faith we share. There will be times when we ‘aren’t feeling it’, but we can be encouraged by those around us and the faith they display.

Like the story of the Canaanite women who Jesus commends, look to others faith in action when we aren’t so sure ourselves. Put faith in the confidence that Jesus has done everything on our behalf, trusting that we can approach God boldly (Hebrews 6:14) in our time of need. Faith is often the bridge between a conflicted head and a willing heart. 


Central Thought:

At YWAM Asheville, we say a DTS course schedule is much like a pressure cooker for your faith. In that, an intense (good) 5 months will do lots to stretch and grow your faith. Finances is an area as all YWAMers rely on God to provide through the generosity and faithfulness of others.

Intentional discipleship is an area where a committed staff will walk alongside you during DTS. Solid teaching about God and His word might stretch your brain in the best way possible, it has mine. Outreach (local and global) is a great experience for growth as you will often find yourself in an unfamiliar area and culture. These are only a small sample of the ways in which a YWAM Asheville DTS can shape and grow your faith.



If any of this has been helpful or you want to develop your faith and learn more about what worship looks like, consider applying for one of our upcoming Discipleship Training Schools. You can visit ywam.org and discover Youth With a Mission DTS USA locations and YWAM DTS locations across the globe!

There’s helpful information like YWAM DTS costs, tips for picking the best YWAM DTS locations for you, specific areas of study based on your interests, and more about us as a global missions movement. If you are interested in exploring a DTS YWAM Asheville is a great location for those in the US and from outside.

We are nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and have a specific calling to reach Travelers (see our website for more info on who they are), those who are impacted by human trafficking. Likewise, if you enjoy expressing yourself artistically, the creative and eclectic culture of Asheville might be right for you. 


Similar posts