This begins a series of posts exploring the connection between worship and psychology.

  • What insights can we gain from current thinking on psychology as well as scripture?
  • What understanding can empower us to be more congruent as worshipers and leaders?
  • How can we more fully develop the mind of Christ?

The more I study, teach, lead and write, the more I’ve realized how very important is the mindset of the worshiper and of those leading worship.

As I become more aware of my flaws and failures as a follower of Jesus, and even more so of my shortcomings as a leader, I realize that:

The more I discover and apply TRUTH, the more the truth sets me free.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

In this series we’ll look at several perspectives and their implications. On the docket so far:

  1.  “Our Basic Needs For Worship” Franklin Segler [This constitutes Part 1]
  2.  “Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs” [Part 2]
  3. Six Human Needs”  Anthony Robbins [Part 3]
  4.  “Seven Longings of the Human Heart” Mike Bickle [Part 4]

Our Basic Needs For Worship

In his book “Christian Worship: It’s Theology and Practice”,  the late Southwestern Baptist theologian Franklin Segler describes  “Our Basic Needs For Worship” (page 65-67), in his words these are:

1. The Sense of Finiteness Seeks the Infinite. In worship we seek completion, communion with God. Sensing our limitations, we go in search for the rest of ourselves.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name  in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    above the heavens.

3 When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
    the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:1, 3-5)

2. The Sense of Mystery Seeks Understanding. We stand in need of knowledge. We approach God as the source of all knowledge. Paul exclaimed:

“O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19)

3. The Sense of Insecurity Seeks Refuge. In an age of uprootedness, we realize our need for refuge and stability.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)

4. The Sense of Loneliness Seeks Companionship with God. In our estrangement and lostness, we feel the need to be loved. Worship is the search for this love that alone can satisfy our loneliness. (Job 23:3) In genuine worship we come ultimately to experience personal companionship with God. (Job 42:5)

5. The Sense of Exclusion Seeks Fellowship with Other Worshippers. The children of Israel sang a song of ascent going up to the temple,

“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1)

In worship the early church felt itself to be one body in Christ. Joined and knit together in Christ, each believer worked to contribute his or her part in building up the body in the love of Christ (Eph. 4:1, 4-6, 16)

6. The Sense of Guilt Seeks Forgiveness and Absolution. In worship our soul is laid bare before God. We acknowledge our guilt and we plead for cleansing. (Ps. 51:1,4,10) The more real our sense of guilt, the more necessity there is for confession and dependence upon the atoning grace of God.

7. The Sense of Anxiety Seeks Peace. When we are anxious, we seek in worship the courage to become our true selves. As emotional tensions build up, we seek peace from them in worship, the deepest of all emotional experiences. This emotional experience can reach to the depths of a our need for rest and peace. (Ps.42:1, 11)

8. The Sense of Meaninglessness Seeks Purpose and Fulfillment. The search for meaning is perhaps our deepest need. In the depths of our soul, we realize that we were created for a purpose. In the midst of life’s harassment we affirm,

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

The search for meaning finds its deepest significance in worship.

9. The Sense of Brokenness Seeks Healing. We cannot grapple with the enemies of righteousness in a realistic world without becoming broken and bruised. In a broken world, we seek to be made whole, and we can only find wholeness as God through the Holy Spirit fills our lives. Isaiah wrote

“ A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench” (Isa. 42:3)

10. A Sense of Grief Seeks Comfort. Our innumerable losses leave us with a feeling of emptiness. We grieve over our losses. (Isa.40:1) In the worship of the living Lord who overcame all such grief and loss, we hear the words :

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me … Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:1,27)

Source: “Christian Worship: It’s Theology and Practice”, Franklin Segler, Randall Bradley

I believe these human longings are universal and this list is a helpful place to begin. But there are more dimensions we’ll explore in the next post.


Is this a helpful study? Do you agree with these needs? What would you add or change?