Making Worship A Way Of Life
We were made for worship (Genesis 1:27; John 15:1-8). God created us to enter into the exuberance of his joy and satisfaction in the goodness and greatness of his own glory (Psalm 9:1-2; Romans 5:11; Revelation 4:9-11).
Worship is a relational response to the reality of who God is.
- The essence of worship is intimate knowledge of God and heartfelt satisfaction in Jesus. This is primarily an inward, spiritual experience of the heart (John 4:23-24; Mark 7:6-7).
- The expression of worship is an outward, relational response to the truth of God’s glory. This relational response includes things like praise and thanksgiving, but at its heart it is a conscious, glad giving of ourselves to God through Spirit-filled obedience and service. Spirit-filled obedience and service pervades every choice of life, which means that worship is an everyday, moment-by-moment lifestyle choice (Romans 12:1-2).
- The motivation for worship is a radical treasuring of God in Christ and a passionate pursuit for more of him. We obey and serve out of gratitude for what God has done, out of delight in magnifying who God is, and out of a desire to know and enjoy Him more fully (Psalm 16:2&11; Psalm 27:4; Psalm 32:11; Psalm 37:4; Psalm 100:2; Ephesians 4:13; Phil 4:4).
- Although outward expressions of worship may vary, the inner reality of treasuring Christ above all is our shared goal. On this common ground we stand, together valuing and pursuing real relationship with God. Meaningfully connecting as many people as possible to God is the immediate goal of our worship services, as well as the long-term goal of our mission.
- We have to continually work against the limiting perception that worship has to do with a certain place or form or that worship is solely music. Worship is an expression of our whole lives in response to the truth of God. All of behavior should be motivated by a deeply freeing taste of God’s goodness and a thirst for more and more satisfaction in God. Therefore, it is vital that we continue helping people make worship an everyday lifestyle. (Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 13:15-16; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17; Ephesians 5:18-20).
- If God is the object of worship, then He must be the subject of what we say and do. In other words, our teaching and admonishing, whether in speech or in song, should be thoroughly God-centered. Because our culture tends to equate worship with music and the sentimental or transcendent feelings music can evoke, we need to remind people that God is the object of our worship and not music or the feelings associated with it, as good as they may be (Matthew 6:33; Psalm 16:8; Psalm 42:1)
- The teaching and preaching of God’s Word, which is the clearest revelation of God’s nature, character, and acts, is central to worship (Colossians 3:16-17; John 17:17).
- By definition a “worship service” is intended primarily for those who know God and respond to Him in faith. However, authentic, passionate, white-hot praise is also evangelistic, for it magnifies God and his attributes, including his love and grace as revealed in Jesus. God is continually seeking more worshipers--calling out people to find their joy and purpose in worshipping Him (1 Corinthians 14:23-25)
- The essence of worship is not in a form but in the heart attitude expressed through forms. Forms of worship are largely determined by history, traditions, culture, and personal preferences. The NT is descriptive rather than prescriptive when it comes to forms. With the exception of communion, the New Testament, for the most part, avoids prescribing outward forms of corporate worship in the church. While teaching that worship is primarily an inward, heart issue, we must also provide appropriate forms which allow people to express their praise, thanks, and love to God. The goal here is not to elevate any particular form but rather to involve as many people as possible in connecting meaningfully to God (1 Corinthians 14:26 “…everything that is done must strengthen all of you.”)
- Praise in song is one legitimate and powerful expression of worship (Psalm 13:6, 30:4, 96:1-2, 98:1, 104:33, 147:7, 149:1). Therefore, we need to be thoughtful about how we choose music for worship. Our choice of music will reflect sensitivity to the diverse “soils” in our church. While preserving our rich heritage of sacred music, we will emphasize music that communicates in the culture in which we live (“progressive” heritage). A diversity of musical styles and instrumentation can be expected in corporate worship services with the goal of lovingly helping everyone to connect meaningfully to God and joyfully with each other. This will require that every one of us will at times need to choose to do what Paul asked the Philippians to do, namely, “…in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Choosing this kind of mutual deference is a far greater act of worship than singing any kind of song. We think this is so important for demonstrating the love of Christ in the family life of the church that we choose not to divide the church along music styles but rather value every form that will help people connect to Jesus.