So, what is worship?

Philosophy of Corporate Worship
First Baptist Church Brookings
October 2009

What We Believe About Worship

We believe that God teaches in His Word that all of life is worship (Romans 12:1-2). We believe that the Bible teaches that we were created to worship God (Isaiah 43:6-7).  In fact, it isn’t just the reason humans were created; it’s the reason all things in all the universe were created: to bring glory to God, to worship Him, to reflect His glory and proclaim His worth (Psalm 19:1).  We were created to do this in every area and in every moment of life, with all our heart and soul and mind and strength (Colossians 3:17).  Paul puts it this way: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Corporate worship at First Baptist Church is meant to be just a part of a whole life that glorifies and honors God, but an important part.  Corporate worship is that time when Christ’s body joins together to publicly savor and worship God.  We don’t come together to worship God for any other reason than that it is what we are made and called to do.  Worship is an end in itself, because He is our all in all, our satisfaction, the fountain of life, our salvation, in Christ.

Values & Goals That Unite Us In Corporate Worship

1. God-centeredness.

Our worship services ought to be vertically-focused: focused on God, singing to God, praying to God, aiming our minds and affections toward God in such a way that He is glorified. This means that we aim to remove horizontal distractions or intrusions. Those who are up front desire to get out of the way and point you to God. Also very practically, this means that we will choose songs that make much of God and not ourselves. God’s central aim eternally, and in all the universe and in all of history and in every moment of our lives – and therefore on Sunday mornings at FBC – is to make much of Himself, to be glorified. This is our aim: God-centeredness.

2. Bible-based and Bible-saturated.

God aims and desires to be worshiped in truth (John 4:23-24). This means that all of our praying and singing and preaching must be and will be based on and saturated with His Word, the Bible, the Word of Truth. Everything we do must conform to His revealed Word, to the truth of Scripture. Very practically, this means that expository preaching will be a priority for us. This also means that we will make sure that all the songs we sing are consistent with biblical teaching. We aim to tether ourselves to the Word of God in all we do and say and sing and preach and pray.

3. Doctrinal faithfulness and depth.

In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul calls the church “the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” The church is the pillar and buttress, or bulwark or ground of truth. But for this to be true, the church must seek doctrinal faithfulness, and seek to deepen her understanding of the Word of God. At FBC, we love deep and sound doctrine. This is because we love God, we love His Word, and we love knowing God more and more, and more truly and deeply. It is our desire that our worship services reflect this, in each and every element and part of the service.

4. Content over style.

Because all of the previous three are true, we are about content over style. Styles come and go. We are free to do corporate worship in any style or form we choose, so long as we discern and agree together that God is honored in it, and that the styles, insofar as we can determine, are consistent with the biblical witness. But the content is another story. There is one deposit delivered to the apostles, and now to us through the Word of God, and it must not be changed or trifled with.

5. Balance of head and heart.

God is about the heart. God is after your heart. It’s just that He gets to your heart through your head. If the head is engaged but the heart remains cold, then Christ will say of you, “They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15:8). We must keep the head and heart together, and we must not neglect either. We don’t want a mindless emotionalism, and neither do we want a cold intellectualism. We want both God-aimed intellects and God-aimed affections. Light in the mind, leading to heat in the heart. Another way to say this: we desire hearts inflamed by what we know.

6. Humility before God.

Our aim is that as a people, we would know who God is, and we would know our place before Him. Our times of worship together ought to be marked by a knowledge of God as righteous, mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-sovereign, and holy…and knowing our place before this God. We ought not trifle with worship; we ought not be flippant or careless in any way during our times of corporate worship, for we worship the Holy God of the universe.

7. Earnestness and weightiness.

Reverence, rooted passion, and wonder ought to mark our times of corporate worship. We’re to be serious about serious things. Much is at stake; heaven and hell are real. This is to be reflected in the way in which we conduct ourselves, and in the way we speak of God-things and gospel-things, and the way we speak of the stakes, and the cost of our salvation.

8. Joy and celebration.

We must balance “earnestness and weightiness” with joy and celebration; we must be serious about being happy in God. That’s the dynamic that ought to mark us as a people. There is a way to be joyful and at the same time aware of the stakes and the cost of our salvation. Our earnestness must not make us downcast, as if we have no hope; and our joy ought not be giddy as if there was no cost. We approach God in worship, knowing the weight of our sin upon Christ, knowing the cost paid for us, but in all joy also knowing that the cost is paid and our salvation is won and assured for us in and by Jesus Christ.

9. Undistracting excellence.

We aim to do all the various parts of our worship services well. Those who plan and lead and serve in our corporate worship services desire to be good at what they do, in such a way that God is honored. They desire to lead you well. They desire to lead so well that you hardly notice them at all, but instead are pointed to God, and not distracted from focusing all your mind and heart on Him.

10. A mix of classic and contemporary music.

We aim to authentically strike a balance among classic hymns, modern hymns, and modern praise songs, knowing that once upon a time “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (an ‘old’ hymn) was once a new and modern praise song. The new isn’t better just because it’s new, and the old isn’t better just because it’s old. We simply want to use the best of all that is available to us, and this means using old stuff and new stuff, always knowing that content trumps style. We aim to do this in a way that is appropriate for our changing church body, and reflective of the changing times and new resources and songs.

Maybe You’re Asking These Questions

Q: What kind of music do you sing at FBC?
A: We try to strike a balance among classic hymns, modern hymns, and modern praise songs.

Q: What instruments are used in your services?
A: Most always piano; also acoustic guitars, drums – really whatever is available to us (we don’t consider one instrument inherently more godly than another).

Q: What do you do in your services  besides music and singing?
A: Expositional preaching is a high priority.  In addition: Scripture readings and prayers.

Q: How long are your corporate worship services?
A: Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Q: What do people wear to church at FBC?
A: Whatever they want; we are a very casually-dressed church.

Q: How can I help with corporate worship at FBC?
A: Speak with Pastor Gavin.

[We express our thanks to The Village Church and to Bethlehem Baptist Church for their excellent Philosophies of Corporate Worship, both of which are reflected here in our own.]

Filed in: Worship

Comments are closed.