Within the Body of Christ, worship is more than musical songs of great arrangement or harmonious melody. Worship is the underlying effort of all the saints gathering together to praise God through song, proclamation, fellowship and giving. In the book, Worship and Entertainment, A.W. Tozer states that worship is to be the perfect mixture of admiration, fascination resulting in praise filled with honor, love and adoration. “Worship seeks union with its beloved,” Tozer writes, “An active effort to close the gap between the heart and the God it adores is worship at its best.”
Therefore, by understanding that worship is much more than entertainment and song, we are forced to explore the Biblical mandate for true worship. We know that the Body of Christ is to gather in corporate worship, but what is the formula it is to take? The great Christian author, C.S. Lewis proposed that we must find consistency within our corporate worship that provides permanence and uniformity.
Even still, what elements are vital for corporate worship in any context?
The minds of sinful men are too idol to fulfill the desires of God in worship simply through our clever and creative ways. I believe that if we want to know the standard for our corporate worship we cannot simply rely on the crutch of tradition, but we must evaluate all in light of Holy Scripture. By looking at the scriptural example found in Isaiah 6 verses 1 through 9, we can find six essential elements for corporate worship.
1. We need to acknowledge the presence of God and His revelation to us. In verse 1 of Isaiah 6, the author paints the picture of the high and Holy God seated in His magisterial thrown. Here at the beginning of this passage god makes Himself know to the worshipers. In the same, within our corporate worship we must open the eyes of the believers to recognize the ways that God has mad Himself apparent through Scripture and through His son Jesus Christ.
2. Isaiah tells of the creatures that exist just to praise God. Within this second verse we can come to an understanding of the essential role of adoration for God by his creations. In a church or formal gathering of worshipers, the believers must devote themselves to a period of purely praising God for who He is and what He has done for His children. This is not a time of asking or acknowledging who the believer is but who God is in all his glory. The hymns, songs or readings are to exemplify the Lord, and alike the Isaiah passage, are to cry out “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
3. The corporate Body of Christ must enter into a time of confession. The necessity for this is made apparent through the example of Isaiah crying out, “Woe to me!” and confessing that he is a sinful man standing before a Holy God. In the gathering of believers, we must recognize our individual wretched state and the condition of our people as a whole. After praising God for who He really is, the confession of who we really are is a humbling and natural progression.
4. To end on the note of our human wretchedness is by no means encouraging to the Body, and in effect would not honor God. So then the Christians need to progress to a place of understanding their expiation. When Isaiah speaks of the seraphs flying to him and touching his lips with a hot coal, he is embracing the forgiveness he is given by the Holy God. In a worshiping community the believers must accept and praise God for the purity they are provided through Jesus Christ allowing them as a sinful man to stand before a sinless God.
5. The fifth element that is brought to our attention in Isaiah’s worship account is the proclamation of God’s Word. Within this text God Himself spoke. In the corporate worship setting the Word of God in scripture needs to be communicated and proclaimed to the congregation.
6. Finally a worship experience must include the commissioning of the saints for the work of the Lord. When the Lord asks, “Who shall I send?” Isaiah responded, “Here am I. Send me!” We need to follow this example and respond the God’s commissioning of all His Children for the spread of His Glory through evangelization, discipleship and service. In the end, a combination of these 6 Biblical elements will lead to a wholly holy worship experience for the Body of Christ.