What is Corporate Worship?
Updated: May 17, 2020
Worship is our whole life; it is everything we do. This is what every follower of Jesus seeks to do with their life; to make every aspect of their life worship unto the Lord. This is something that every believer does individually and it is what we are all called to. We are also called to worship the Lord together as fellow believers. This is not a separate category of worship, but it is, or should be, wrapped up in our focus on worshiping the Lord with our whole life. As a follower of Jesus, worshiping with other believers is not just something that we do because we are called to do it but it is something we desire to do. This is clear to see when we look at the formation of the early church in Acts 2:42-47. Those believers were continually devoted to each other, to the teaching of the apostles, and to meeting with one another; the scripture says they met daily!
Also, gathering together is not simply something that the church does, but it is part of what the church is. The English word, Church, is translated from the Greek word, Εκκλησία (ekklesia). In fact, every time the English word, church, appears in the scripture, it comes from that Greek word. This is significant because ekklesia means “the assembly.” From that fact we can say that the English word, church, when used in the scripture, means the assembled people. You have heard it said, “the church is not a building, it is the people.” This is true, but it is only partly true. It is true that the church is not the building. However, the church is not the individual people, it is the assembled people. A church that does not assemble, it not a church at all.
The main reason that we assemble, is to worship our triune God together; our worship has a primary object. Our God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, the one who saved us by the power of his might, demands that we worship him alone. In Matthew 4:10, as Jesus is being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he says, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” In this scripture, Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:13-15 and 1 Samuel 7:3-4. The people of the Lord are called to show total allegiance to him; we are to worship and serve the Lord only. We should do this not only because The Lord commands us to (but certainly that is enough!), but because he alone is worthy of worship (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 5:7;6:13-14, Isaiah 6:1-4, Psalm 96:4-5, Revelation 4:8-9; 5:8-14). We gather for the main purpose of worshiping the Lord together.
We also gather for another reason. Hebrews 10:23-25 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as we see the day drawing near.” We are to gather with other believers as often as possible. We are to stir one another up to love and good works. We are to encourage one another. Simply, we are to live our lives together. You have heard it said, “the church is like a gas station, I come in on Sunday to fill my tank. With a full tank, I can get through the week.” Once again, this is only partially true. Worshiping with other believers does “fill” us in a sense. However, the danger of thinking like this is making church all about our needs. In fact, according to the scripture, the opposite should be true. I should attend the gathering to worship the Lord with other believers, to stir others up to love and good deeds, and to encourage others; church is not about personal fulfillment. If you make church about you and what you get out of it, you are worshiping yourself, not the Lord.
Corporate worship is like-minded, fellow believers gathering to worship the triune God together. God alone is worship of our worship and we gather to worship him. We also gather to love and encourage one another, not for personal gain. That is what it means to gather together as Christians. But that does not paint the whole picture, does it? When we gather, how are we suppose to worship? What are the things that we should be doing? Who determines what we do when we gather? Are there elements that must happen every time we gather? Is there some freedom in deciding what we should and should not do? These are all very important questions and they are the questions I will begin to answer in the next several blog articles. Until then, may the peace of the Lord be with you all. God bless!
written by Jacob White