The Goal and Meaning of Public Worship
Our aim, as the congregation gathers to meet with God in public worship on the Lord’s Day, is to glorify and enjoy God, in accordance with His written word. That is, the very purpose of assembling together as the people of God in congregational worship is to give to the Lord the glory due His name and to enjoy the blessing of His promised special presence with His own people, in obedience to His instructions set forth in the Bible.
The Meaning of Corporate Worship
Corporate worship (so-called because the body or corpus of Christ, that is, the people of God, the Church, is collectively involved in this encounter with God) is sometimes referred to as “gathered,” “assembled,” “public,” or “congregational” worship. All of these names are helpful, and bring out different dimensions of this important aspect of biblical worship.
Though the Bible indicates that there are, in addition to public worship, other distinct and significant facets of Christian worship (like family worship, private worship and life worship), the importance of public worship is featured in both the Old and New Testaments. When Psalm 100:2 and Hebrews 10:25 speak of “coming before the Lord” and “assembling together” they are both addressing public or gathered worship.
Our Distinctives in Corporate Worship
The great distinctive of our whole approach to public worship is that we aim for the form and substance of our corporate worship to be suffused with Scripture and scriptural theology. An apt motto for this approach is:
- Read the Bible
- Preach the Bible
- Pray the Bible
- Sing the Bible
- See the Bible
The Elements, Forms, and Circumstances of Worship
Determining that the Bible will guide our worship helps the church ensure that:
- the elements of worship (like singing, praying, reading Scripture, preaching, administering the sacraments, making solemn vows, confessing the faith and giving offerings) are unequivocally and positively grounded in Scripture;
- the forms of worship (how you go about singing, praying, reading Scripture, preaching, administering the sacraments) are in accord with Scripture and serve the elements they are intended to help convey;
- and the circumstances of worship (incidentals like whether you sit in pews or chairs or stand, whether you meet in a church building or a storefront, what time you meet, how long you meet, etc.), are maximally helpful in assisting us to do what the Bible calls us to do in worship.