Summary: Essential to the life and growth of any church is corporate worship. Corporate worship is a significant indicator of the true spiritual condition of a congregation. But what exactly should corporate worship look like?
Church Essentials: Part Three
True Worship - Acts 2:41-42
Essential to the life and growth of any church is corporate worship. We are told that the church "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers". Corporate worship is a significant indicator of the true spiritual condition of a congregation. But what exactly should corporate worship look like? In Putting an End to Worship Wars, Elmer Towns asked the questions: What do you do in worship? How do you worship? What motivates you to worship? and What are the results of worship? From the responses he identified six worship styles in America: Evangelistic - winning the lost; Expositional - teaching the word; Renewal - excitement, revival, 'touching God'; Body-life - fellowship, relationships and small groups; Liturgical - serving & glorifying God through liturgy and Congregational - worship expressed by the laity. While these may be styles of worship they do not answer the question of what corporate worship is and what it should look like. In order to answer these questions we must look at what worship is not and then what worship is.
I What worship is not...
A Worship is not to be done for entertainment.
1 According to the Encarta Dictionary, there are three definitions to entertainment:
a the art of keeping people entertained - the various ways of amusing people, especially by performing for them
b enjoyment - the amount of pleasure or amusement somebody gets from something
c performance or exhibition - something that is produced or performed for an audience.
2 If we define entertainment as enjoyment, true worship can be entertaining.
a Psalm 122:1 "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house of the Lord.'”
b Psalm 27:6 "I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord."
3 If something that is "entertaining" is done "for entertainment" then there is a problem. If we attend a "worship service" to "be entertained" than is a problem. If we design or pattern our corporate worship after the world in order to entertain an audience or to draw a crowd there is a problem.
4 Romans 12:2 tells us that we are not to "copy the behavior and customs of this world" (NLT)
5 Galatians 1:10 "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant[a] of Christ." (ESV)
6 Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “When the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.” - copied
7 Worship is not to be a spectator event it is to be an interactive event where all in attendance participate. If we think worship is watching and listening to others worship, we are mistaken.
8 Someone has said "The sacredness of true worship must not be sacrificed on altars of entertainment-oriented quartets, choirs, and other entertainment groups."
9 The style of worship is not what is right or wrong. it isn't what is right or wrong, but the heart and purpose of the one using it. It isn't the modern or traditional style in worship that makes worship God-focused or self-focused, but the one doing the worshipping. In fact those who claim traditional is the only accepted style do not themselves worship in the traditional style of the first century. What is now considered modern such as hand-clapping, raising hands, jubilant singing, and what are called "praise songs" are actually from other centuries before us. In fact, the so-called "modern" praise songs that have become very popular are really much closer in style to the singing of the first century than the so-called "traditional" four-part harmony which was introduced in the 1600's. - adapted from J. Guy
10 John 4:24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
B Worship is not about what you get out of it
1 There is an erroneous idea today that the main reason we attend worship is to "get something out of the service"
2 Worship is not about "getting our needs met." Not about a performance from the pastor and singer and choir and musicians. Not in the least. We are in church to give. Not to get
3 If your main concern in coming to church or in attending a worship service is to meet your needs, you will inevitably be disappointed. The value of your participation in worship is found not in what you get out of but in what you put into it.