"How Shall We Worship God?"
We believe that, though some patterns of corporate worship may be found in the New Testament, it is beyond the confines of Scripture to offer detailed instructions regarding the order of worship (liturgical to spontaneous)or a style of music for praise (traditional to contemporary). The New Covenant is not bound to any particular age, culture or people group. However, the Lord has given us several principles which serve as guidelines for the forms of the corporate worship of the New Covenant people of God. These guidelines address the question of “how” we are to sing, pray or preach in manner that is acceptable to our Lord.
We place a high priority upon the vertical focus of our Lord’s day worship service. Christ-centeredness means that God is both the subject and object of our worship. He is the one we speak about and to whom we speak. Christ-centeredness..."means that God is both the subject and object of our worship"The service is not an attempt to market a message to consumers, it is a time when the people of God and their children meet to adore and praise their Creator and Redeemer through the various elements of the service. As the subject of our worship, we believe that God is a Trinity of persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) who possesses a vast array of attributes, such as holiness and justice as well as love and mercy. As a result, we seek to avoid a trite, superficial, or frivolous atmosphere in worship. It is our prayer and desire to set an example of reverence, passion and wonder as well as great joy (1 Corinthians 10:31; Hebrews 12:28-29). Because Christ is the object of our worship, our ultimate aim is to magnify Him through every aspect of our service so that He is glorified in our hearts, minds and affections as well as in our actions (1 Peter 4:11; Revelation 19:10, 22:29).
The worship of God is no longer confined to a specific location (Jerusalem) or outward ceremonies. In a broad sense, worship embraces all of life lived out as a sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). Worship in spirit means that only those that have been born again by the Holy Spirit can truly enter into worship because it is not an external matter alone. In Spirit and truth..."worship embraces all of life lived out as a sacrifice to God"It is a genuine heartfelt spiritual event which not only involves the intellect but also the emotions of the worshipper. Thus, worship comes from the heart and is an expression of our love for Christ and full satisfaction with all that He is for us. Worship in truth means that our worship must be a response to true views of God that are shaped, guided and fueled by the Word of God. Therefore, the content of our praying, singing and preaching must always conform to the truth of scripture. All expression must reflect true biblical content and intent. The content of God’s Word should be woven through all that we do in worship. True worship, therefore, must engage both the intellect and the emotions. It is both light and heat, doctrine and doxology. Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and emotion without truth produces an aimless emotionalism (John 4:23-24; Colossians 3:16).
Worship, by definition is something believers do, not watch others do for them. Congregational worship is a corporate event involving the entire assembly. We desire to foster a mind set that anticipates participation versus a performance expectation. Congregational worship..."is a corporate event...the entire assembly"The worshiper should be more concerned with how he is prepared and deepening in his worship than with how the service is making him “feel.” Though some of the elements in the worship service are offered by individuals (i.e. preaching) all the members of the congregation are involved when they meditate and concentrate upon the truth’s being sung, prayed or preached (1 Corinthians 14:26).
True worship is not a human exercise alone. New covenant worship is carried on in the power of the Holy Spirit. This means that the divine Spirit of God grants to us all that we need for our worship to be true and acceptable. He grants us understanding that we might persevere in genuine heartfelt worship. He grants us the spiritual gifts (divine enablements such as preaching) that are necessary for truly effective worship that builds up the saints. Without the power of the Holy Spirit all of our worship would be an empty shell (1 Corinthians 12:11). "My happiest momentsare when I am worshipping God, really adoring the Lord Jesus Christ, and having fellowship with the ever-blessed Spirit. In that worship I forget the cares of the church and everything else. To me it is the nearest approach to what it will be in heaven.” Charles H. SpurgeonTherefore, we want to foster an attitude of dependence upon the Spirit’s ministry. We desire the Spirit’s powerful presence and seek His wisdom, power and grace by praying for His workings in our worship services, by resisting the temptation to use worship services for anything but magnifying Christ, and by laying aside those things that grieve Him (Ephesians 2:18; Philippians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 12:1-14:40).
Though worship entails primarily a vertical focus, there is a horizontal element as well. The spiritual gifts imparted and energized by the Holy Spirit are given for the immediate purpose of building up believers to maturity and the ultimate purpose of glorifying Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7, 14:26; 1 Peter 4:11). This means that we must worship the true God in such a way that nurtures the development of true Christian character in the people of God. We must be conscious and considerate of those around us. To this end, our worship must be intelligible and orderly (1 Corinthians 14). It must utilize the language of the people and forms that our culture can comprehend, yet always be true to the Word of God. It must address the issues of the day. Matters of style are not to be left to our personal preference nor is it simply a question of traditional versus contemporary. What “I” personally like is not the issue. Out of love we must consider all those present in the congregation that we might worship Christ with one unified intelligible voice. At Grace Bible Church of Hollister this involves a mingling of the best historic and contemporary forms of music as measured by each of these principles.