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Theology of Worship

 

Definition of Corporate Worship:

Christian worship is magnifying the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, by God’s Word, prayer, sacraments, and music to proclaim the Gospel as we cherish God’s presence together.’ (adapted from Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters, 55).

 

We are born to worship God. These words are A.W. Tozer’s summary of the greatest commandment, the Ten Commandments, and the Westminster Catechism’s: ‘The Chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.’ We are created uniquely to worship God. While prophesy, tongues, (1 Corinthians 13:8), marriage (Matthew 22:30), and even missions (Hebrews 9:27) will cease, yet worship is forever (Psalm 16:11).

 

Christianity is fundamentally relational and God's people worship in relational community. As Trinity, one and many in community, God created his people to live, serve, and worship in community. We are individual persons who are drawn into the fellowship in Christ (Romans 12:3-8). The goal of Christ's work is to bring His Community into the love, glory and unity of the Trinity and our worship must reflect this (John 17).  For that reason, while we worship privately (there are examples of worshipping alone), worship is primarily corporate, now, and in heaven (Revelation 4-5).  For this reason, every effort must be made by worship leaders to engage the whole community to participate in worship together. 

We understand that the key elements of corporate worship, both biblically and historically, are music, the Word, prayer, and the Lord's Supper.
These are undergirded first by our ongoing obedience, without which worship is an empty ritual and angers our God, and also our love for one another, without which we cannot profess a love for God.

Goal of the Word in worship - "Expository Exultation":
We preach the Word of God, as opposed to the ideas of people, in order that those who hear will delight more deeply in God. The Word is preached as it is intended and as it was written: to gently and patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage (2 Timothy 4:1-2), that everyone would rejoice in God's truth (Psalm 119; Ephesians 1:3-14) and so delight in his love (Psalm 59, 115, 1 Peter 1:8). Leaders in the Word must bring the depths of God's Word into our shallower lives, tempting us into the deep end, with God.

Goal of Prayer in worship -- "Kingdom Desires":
In prayer we are called from distractions to God and Kingdom concerns and we see our desires in a new light (Matthew 6:9-15). In prayer the Holy Spirit prays for us by God's will, even as we search for right words, and then He begins to teach us what to pray for even as God begins to answer (Romans 8:26-27). And in his mercy, he often also heals our pain and comforts our sorrows, and this leads to deeper worship (Lamentations 3:22-24). Leaders in prayer must help the congregation to move from their concerns (both important and petty) into the presence of God, so we can see our concerns as important to our Father and his concerns as of first importance to us.

Goal of Lord's Supper in worship -- "Anticipated Communion": At the Lord's Table we remember his sufferings and our gain by his sacrifice (Luke 22:14-20). Such worship is a wonderful mixture of sorrow, hope and joy. Every enactment of this Supper, which includes every shared meal with our family and friends, anticipates the Marriage Feast of the Lamb when we will be together again with Jesus, forever (Revelation 21). Leaders in the Lord's Supper call the congregation to see this greater meal.

Goal of Music in worship -- "Shared Delight":
In our music the congregation engages together in singing with great joy to the God of our salvation - a reminder of the current reality in heaven (Revelation 4-5). And just as worship in the Word, the substance of our singing must be theologically fit and biblically saturated. Leaders in music serve as prompters, drawing-out contributions of the congregation in worship, choosing music that is biblically strong and theologically sound, a fit for the worship theme and season, and considers the ability and expectations of the congregation.