Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rethinking Corporate Worship

Over the last several years, I have been thinking a lot about the modern '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.

Furthermore, 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)? 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)?  I'm not great at this, so this is just as much about me as anyone else.

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...

What are your thoughts about worship?

"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)


Heart4Children said...

Casey, I think you are on the right track here. Need to really flesh this out as to how true corporate worship is "practiced." Doing life together is, in my opinion, the lynch pin. And, yes a good neighborhood bar has more community going on than ANY church I have been to.

Sheridan said...

Casey, I really appreciate your thoughts on the matter. I had a sociology professor at HBU that changed my view of corporate worship forever. He explained to us (somehow through a sociology class) that we've somehow created a movement in the worship scene where we turn the lights down low, close our eyes, and tell the congregation "don't pay attention to the people around you; it's just you and Jesus". His take on it was that historically and biblically corporate worship was for the purpose of edifying the Body as a whole and not a single individual. He said that the kind of worship we encourage in the churches is the kind of worship Jesus encouraged us to have secretly in our "closet" (Matt 6). His argument is that we have one precious hour to sing together every week and we all close our eyes and pretend that the Body isn't there. He encouraged us to open our eyes and sing our hearts out intentionally observing those around us as a means of being encouraged by their faces and lifted hands. Just a few thoughts directly from Dr. Wilson...