A Practical Theology of Worship
A theology of worship is intended to serve as a compass for the local church when evaluating the various worship options available in an ever-changing culture. It is used to identify how it will serve its community of faith. The questions below help to frame the highlights of what we consider most important. Use what is here as an example to craft your own. I
What Is Worship?
"Worship is responding to all that God is with all that I am."
Genesis 22: 1-14
Abraham lived so closely to God that he responded when God called. We see Abraham's purpose in worship because of his preparation and the faith he practiced his theology of worship by the sacrifice of Isaac.
"Let my people go so that they may worship me". God's desire was to free a nation from slavery to worship Him. As pre-Christ followers we were enslaved to our sins, but Christ set us free; primarily to worship Him. The first commandment reminds us of this. Tozer: "God meant for a new convert to be a worshiper first. After that he can become a worker."
All of life is intended to be an act of worship. In view of all Christ has done on our behalf, to worship, yielding our whole life, moment by moment, is the only logical thing left to do. Watchman Nee: "To come into the presence of God and kneel before Him one hour takes all the strength we possess".
What do we believe about corporate worship?
The Holy Spirit is our worship leader. The "lead worshipers", include not only the musicians, but anyone who speaks, prays, or has a part in the service. They facilitate the congregation's worship by reminding them of who God is and what He has done.
The congregation is like a cast of actors on a stage. The role of the people upfront is to assist them with cues to facilitate worship. The entire service is the Holy Spirit's message to us. This is important in our theology of worship.
No person, service element, verse or song, drama, movie clip, etc., has any power to produce worship. This is the work of the Holy Spirit as He engages our spirits responding to the truth of God. John 4:22 says we can worship the God we know.
Consider these examples from Scripture:
2 Sam. 6
1 Chron. 29
2 Chron. 5
. Because cultures differ, styles and expressions differ. Humility must rule when configuring style and expression to accommodate what serves the culture before personal preference. Mark 10:45 reminds us Jesus came to serve others.
What are the essentials to set the tone for worship?
3. Willingness to respond in obedience:
Is what we communicate in corporate worship what we really believe?
Regardless of the quality of the "performance" of the service, it is most important for church leaders to worship intentionally. In this way, we will train people to do likewise and not expect to be entertained.
There is a strong link between prayer and worship. Corporately, passion for one will be reflected in the other. Participation in corporate prayer is a good indication of the depth and consistency of our worship.
Are there aspects of theology of worship that must be re-evaluated to accurately express our theology?
There are words that have lost their meaning due to changes in usage or culture. An example: "Thou" in the sixteenth century was used to mean a close familiarity. Today, it sounds formal, which is not what was originally intended.
Are there additional elements of truth we must include?
Drama, movie clips, interviews, personal faith stories (testimonies), visual art, dance, signing are popular today. Efforts must be made to use new expressions as they become available.
What is the appropriate language for our fellowship to express our theology of worship?
1. Singing - There are 85 references in the Bible to singing.
2. Prayer - Adoration, Confession, Supplication, Thanksgiving.
4. Personal faith stories (testimonies)
For Further Consideration
The importance of worship cannot be over emphasized. In the words of John Piper from his book, Let The Nations Be Glad, "Missions exists because worship doesn't".
gives clear indication that the overflow of our worship results in us sharing our faith. We practice a theology of worship.