Recently, I have been affronted by several articles lashing out against modern,
corporate worship, many of which ask the question, "Why would anyone sing in church
Primarily, this question implies "church" is generally a gathering place or congregational
service rather than the worldwide body of Christ. Beyond that, every article I have
read concerning the subject has systematically attacked certain methods of modern,
corporate worship, insinuating that former methods would encourage greater participation
As a worship pastor, I come away from these allegations scratching my head. Why
are so many supposed-followers-of-Jesus bound and determined to scrutinize the manner
in which the church does or does not worship? I believe there is a greater, underlying
issue that deserves our attention. So, instead of pitting one method against the
other, I would like to suggest an entirely different paradigm . . . Corporate Worship:
Method vs. Motive.
The blueprint is simple (as is the Gospel):
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship,
and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous
signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything
they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those
in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s
Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising
God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to
their fellowship those who were being saved.
First, let's address method.
Is the model of a typical Protestant Sunday service emulating that of the believers
in the first century church? Is the pastor-congregation formula to which we are
so accustom even biblical? What is the purpose of believers congregating in the
first place? Throughout the history of humanity, individually, we have worshiped
in various methods including (but not limited to) - prayer, songs, gifts, sacrifices,
dances, poems, tears, laughter, the lifting of hands, ceremonial traditions, and
sheer adoration. Corporately, however, we have but a handful of examples. What does
it look like for a group of individuals to worship? From dogma to desertion, religious
institutions have invented various "acts of corporate worship." Political agendas
have established strongholds. Cultural influences have sabotaged singularity. And
a myriad of man's ideas have molded the modern church into the monstrous model it
is today. Over the past twenty centuries, the church has slowly diminished into
lists of brutal bylaws, rigid ritual, fanatical frivolity, and dismembering denominations.
Whether these methods please God or not have less to do with performance and more
to do with provenance.
That brings us to motive.
Paul writes to Timothy and discloses his motive:
The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that
comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.
1 Timothy 1:5
The simple blueprint reveals the simple Gospel. What we do should demonstrate who
and Whose we are. We worship together to promote His glory, proclaim His goodness,
profess our agreement, and present ourselves godly in the image of Christ. Corporate
worship (however it manifests) is to weave us together, not tear us apart. It is
a singular declaration of conviction that we belong to one another, members of the
same body, united in Jesus. Let us cast off those things that easily vex us: differed
opinions, personal preference, and the like, and let us turn our attention toward
Heaven which is governed by the very nature of God. Let His nature be realized in
us, His children, the body of Christ!