How We Worship

IMG_20160907_102436439_HDRPerhaps at one time you heard someone say something like, “I like to worship at that church because their band is really lively and makes me feel good!”  It is not wrong to get a good feeling from worship.  Nor is it wrong to have numerous musical instruments employed in worship.  Nor could we say it is wrong to use modern music.

One element that we recognize as characteristic of people in the Bible who encountered the glory of God is reverence.  In fact, it seems that those who in some way realized God’s glory were remarkably humbled before Him.  Their thoughts were not at that moment on what they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy, what was entertaining or what made them laugh.  This does not mean that there is not time for celebration in the life of a Christian.  There certainly is.  As you read the Bible you will see that God’s people at times danced and celebrated His blessings on them.  But, you will also see that when they came to the recognized place of worship and men God appointed were leading, there was order.

Whether or not you ever sense some extraordinary experience in your life regarding God’s presence is not important.  He is present in believers by His Spirit, and when His Word is read and preached His Spirit is at work to produce what He desires.  So, where God is present, we do not wait for a feeling to move us to be reverent.  We show reverence because He deserves it.  God is not like us.  He is Lord over all.  Yes, at Christmas we celebrate the fact that God the Son took to Himself our human nature to redeem it.  But He is still fully God as well.  While through Christ we are invited to come near to our Father in heaven, we must remember that God is the Creator, Lord and Judge before whom angels burst into praise and demons tremble.

In the minds of some this talk of reverence sounds like it would be characteristic of a “dead” church where people sit up straight, seldom smile and struggle to keep awake.  We pray that isn’t the case with the time we spend worshipping.  Our goal is not to be like the culture in order to reach people.  Our goal is to mimic things characteristic of heaven so that people can see how refreshing it is to recognize God’s majesty rather than try to make Him seem as if He is merely one of us.

For that reason, Scripture is prominent.  God is the source of truth.  He has chosen to communicate through His Word.  His Spirit has bound Himself to work through the preaching of the Bible.  The songs we sing are based on Scripture themes and often are phrases taken directly from the Scriptures.  The prayers we pray together should reflect Scripture.  The congregation joins together with the leader of worship to read Scripture.  If we incorporate any songs or prayers or other inventive and more entertaining or “lively” aspects in worship which are not illustrative of or directly founded on Scripture, we are in need of change.  While emotions often affect worshippers, our goal is not to stir emotions.  Our goal is to expose believers to God’s Word.

So, come with a mind to work – a desire to apply yourself to learning and a prayerful expectation that God will reveal Himself as His Word is preached.  There may be some ancient parts of liturgy we employ with which you are not familiar such as a song called the Gloria Patri or the Agnus Dei, but they are simple to learn.  Participating in singing such songs joins you with fellow believers who for centuries rehearsed these same truths to express their faith in God’s Word in order to glorify Him.  You are a part of something bigger than the latest fad.