Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Value of Gathered Worship: an Outline

The following is an outline of the presentation I delivered at New England Bible College's faculty conference "How Then Shall We Worship." If you were able to attend it'd be great to continue some dialogue or if you had any questions I'd be more than pleased to help answer them!

The Value of Gathered Worship:

Why God’s People Must Worship Together

Gathered worship strengthens and informs scattered worship (and vice versa).

  • “Worship is a subject that should dominate our lives seven days a week. Vitality and meaning will not be restored to Christian gatherings until those who lead and those who participate can recover a biblical perspective on their meetings, seeing them in relation to God’s total plan and purpose for his people.” [1]
  • By gathering for encouragement. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • By scattering for mission. (Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

Gathered worship fuels a God-glorifying passion in all things.

  • By sharing God’s passion for His glory. (Romans 11:33, 36)
  • By exposing God’s competitors—our idols.

Gathered worship shapes a Christ-centered, gospel-driven community.

  • By knowing the gospel.
  • We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom. The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. [2]
  • By reading the gospel. (1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-20)
  • By singing the gospel.
  • By praying the gospel. (Colossians 1:9-14)
  • By studying the gospel.
  • By celebrating the gospel. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Gathered worship motivates a Spirit-empowered mission.

  • By being the church instead of merely going to church.
  • By seeing our mission as a call to worship.
  • “There can only be one call to worship, and this comes at conversion, when in complete repentance we admit to worshipping falsely, trapped by the inversion and enslaved to false gods before whom we have been dying sacrifices.”[3]

[1] David Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship, p. 21.
[2] Tim Keller, “The Centrality of the Gospel”, p. 1-2.
[3] Harold Best, Music through the Eyes of Faith, p. 147.

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