Values For Corporate Worship

Last week’s column was a meditation on the fact that, according to the New Testament, all of life is worship. Yet it remains true that our Sunday gathering is uniquely devoted to activities and attitudes of worship in a corporate sense. So how do we put those meetings together? What qualities characterize our worship services?

First and foremost, we want our Sunday gatherings to be God-centered. We believe God is entirely supreme over all things. In other words, God’s glory is the motive and goal for all that God does and all that exists, including worship. Biblical worship begins and ends with God. Furthermore, God exists as three persons, and Christian worship should recognize all three members of the Trinity.

In addition, we believe God is the greatest joy of the human heart. The paradox of worship is this: that deeply soul-satisfying worship is found only when we forsake our own joy and instead aim to bring joy to God. 

This view of God is highly relevant to corporate worship for several reasons. First, it furnishes the goal for our corporate worship: to glorify God. Second, it implies the standard for our corporate worship: the character of God. And third, it identifies the primary audience for our corporate worship: the Triune God.

Practically, this value of God-centeredness means:

  • We engage in corporate worship as an end in itself—namely, to give glory to God, rather than as a means to some other corporate or personal end. 
  • We evaluate all aspects of our corporate worship by how well they reveal and reflect God’s character and worth.
  • We emphasize the gospel in our corporate worship, recognizing this is where God’s character and worth are best seen and enjoyed.
  • We emphasize the Scriptures in our corporate worship, believing the Bible is the tool the Holy Spirit uses to reveal glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
  • We name all three members of the Trinity in various elements of our corporate worship, demonstrating that all three are essential to worship and entitled to worship. 
  • We oppose the notion that worship meetings should be designed first and foremost to reach unbelievers, recognizing instead that the only “Seeker” in biblical worship is God (cf. Jn 4:23). 
  • We expect our congregation to find deep, soul-satisfying joy as we worship God together, reflecting the paradox of “losing our life in order to find it.”