Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Thinking about Corporate Worship

I couldn't sleep last night.  Not because of anything in particular, just one of those nights where sleep didn't come easy.  As I lay awake, I started thinking about the 'worship movement' that is taking place in the Church today and the emphasis on personal worship.  There is such a huge emphasis on worship style, methods, songs, etc. that we can quickly miss the One whom deserves our worship.

Also, what has come of the corporate worship experience?  If you think about it for a minute, you'd quickly realize that we bring a lot of people together to worship individually.  Now, I know that people are encouraged to sing the same song, facing the same direction, and all, but is it just me or is there an increasing emphasis made on the experience of the individual rather than the glorification of Jesus?  Plus, aren't we called to worship God as a people, not just as a person?  

Shouldn't individual worship be defined as our whole life and not just an emotion (see Romans 12:1-2)?  Listen, I'm not trying to be just another negative voice in the worship discussion.  However, I am convicted that I have not been viewing the call to corporate worship appropriately.  We need a little more of 'us and God' and a little less of 'me and God'.  I think we've gotten pretty good at 'me and God'.  

This trend also emphasizes the lack of community in the Church today.  In my experience, there appears to be more authentic community being had at coffee shops and bars, than in the church.  Why is that?  Perhaps there is a connection between our view of worship and our view of community?  The idea of community in the world is a group of people with common interests that derive benefit from one another.  However, isn't there something more that Christ calls us to?  For instance, aren't we to care for widows and orphans?  What if that even means more than paying their light bills and feeding them?  What if it means that we do life with them with the aim of encouraging one another to love and good deeds (see Hebrews 10)?

The more I consider these things, the more I realize that we must return to a higher view of corporate worship.  If you want to close your eyes and raise your hands, that is great, but don't do it at the expense of the community as a whole.  I wonder how pleased God is when we are pouring everything we are into OUR worship, but ignore those in our midst who are suffering, hurting, or just weak in faith?  That must be connected to loving our neighbors as ourselves in some way...

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!  It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!  For there the Lord as commanded the blessing, life forevermore." - Psalm 133 (ESV)


Sheridan said...


I really starting thinking about this same topic in Dr. Wilson's Sociology class at HBU. He told the story of a church in the US (can't remember which one) that played their music and preaching on loud speakers in the parking lot, and you could literally do "drive in church" the same way you do a drive in movie. He wondered why we have one precious hour a week together as the body of Christ and we encouraged the congregation to close their eyes as the lights dimmed. I can't count how many times people have told me "it's just you and God" in a corporate worship setting, but I just don't think that's the case. Being a worship leader, I can't claim to have even come close to figuring out what facilitating corporate worship looks like, but I'd sure like to try and move in that direction.

Great post.

The Wilks Family said...

Hey Casey,

Good blog. We aren't really focusing on the worship style right now. We are in a town where we have 60,000 and 54,000 or more are lost. We realized in order to reach the city we are going to need to do house churches - where we do life together. Keep praying for us. How is the new church in Brenham doing?