We should worship God. Very few followers of Jesus would disagree with that statement. The question is: How do we worship God when we gather together? Those who are God’s children should worship him with their whole life – 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Again, very few followers of Jesus would disagree with that statement. However, the question remains: How do we worship God when we gather together? Actions may or may not demonstrate our worship of God, depending upon our heart and our motives. Again, few believers would disagree with that statement. But, once again, this question has not been answered: How do we worship God when we gather together?
A few years ago, when I decided the enter the PhD program, this was the question that was on my mind. When I started this blog a couple of years ago, this was the main question that I wanted to tackle. As I’ve studied this question, I’ve learned that it can be answered in many ways, and, the way someone answers this question usually depends on what they think about the church – that is, the nature and essence of the church. Of course, someone’s understanding of the church also demonstrates their understanding of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – especially the resurrection of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. These beliefs and a person’s response to these beliefs are interconnected.
Today, people argue and fight about “worship”. The church argues about the style of music that should be played when the church meets together – but Scripture says nothing about style of music. The church argues about the style of “preaching” that should occur when the church meets together – but Scripture says nothing about style of preaching. The church argues about whether or not an “invitation” should be extended when the church meets together – but Scripture says nothing about “invitations”.
We spend time and money and resources on worship conferences, and leadership seminars, and revival meetings, and guest speakers, and special music, and prayer conferences, and sound system specialists, and aesthetics, and producers… and even if we scour Scripture we will not find these mentioned.
When we finally do turn to Scripture, we start with our practices, and we defend those practices from Scripture through inference. Meanwhile, what we do and what we say and how we act and why we do it and who does it… these things look so much different than what we read about in Scripture. Of course, we chalk it all up to culture, until we want to defend something that we do.
When it comes to salvation, we take what Scripture says very literally: Repent! ok. Confess that Jesus is Lord! ok. Be baptized! ok.
When it comes to our relationships with one another, we take what Scripture says literally: Love one another! sure. Forgive one another! yes. Serve one another! right away.
But, when it comes to gathering together with other believers, that’s a different story: Do everything for edification! well… Admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs! don’t we sing to God? Consider how to stir up one another to love and good works! that’s only for a small church; we’re too big for that… Exhort one another daily! that’s not my responsibility.
I think the church needs to learn to worship together. We need to learn what Scripture says – that’s right, start with Scripture – about the meeting of the church. We need to adjust our meetings to what we see in Scripture.
We need to come together to build up one another toward maturity – with everyone prepared to take part. We need to think about how God would use us to encourage others towards love and good works. We need to help one another use our gifts to serve each other, thereby bringing glory to God – yes, even the newest believers. The more mature believers (leaders) need to lead by example, not by doing and saying everything – sometimes leading by example means getting out of the way. We need to stop making excuses for why we are not following the teachings of Scripture.