Webster's Dictionary defines "worship" as " an expression of the worthiness of a Being." That's biblical in my estimation.
I'm going to write about another thing of which I'm sure. [That never means I don't have things to learn in this area.] My sureness comes from what I confidently see in scripture and from my experience as a pastor. That is corporate worship.
Let me say from the beginning that worship is more than a service. It is an obedient life. That's why, when ready to obey in what he thought would be the killing of his son, Abraham said, "the lad and I will go yonder and worship." There is no real worship corporately apart from a life of obedience individually. But there can be both.
So my frame of reference for this article is a corporate body gathered to experience worship as a group.
Another thing. I doubt the veracity of the statement that, in corporate worship, God is the audience and we're the participants. He's watching how we perform so let's do it right. We want to be sure and please Him. It seems to me that's the philosophy that drives paganism. In their mind, if they do it right, the gods [who are far off and watching] will be happy and bless them. But if they mess it up, the gods will be angry and crops will die, and cattle and wives will be barren. So you can see the reason for establishing an elite group [ministers/witch doctors] who are trained to do it right. They can do the rituals and we will watch and all will be well. At least in their minds. I don't think so.
Worship is more of a family gathering with the joy, excitement, anticipation, and even struggles of relating to each other, and the Father, who is the one significant presence that we all want to share in a very real way. Worship is that time when we, corporately, experience, hear from, and even crawl up into the lap of, our Heavenly Father, who is real in our midst as He's real in our lives daily.
Finally, why is corporate worship so important? No one doubts that we can worship/obey God individually, but why is the group thing so important? I'm glad you asked that question. :)
It is essential because God doesn't have any "only kids". We're part of a kingdom/family and we are to experience each other as gifted, growing, members of the Body. You count the "one another" statements in scripture and you'll find we can't really life out christianity effectively apart from "one another". Add to that reality, the only time the whole local body [assuming the people come] is together is that one time a week, generally on a Sunday morning, called a Worship service, and you see why we need to think seriously about corporate worship experiences. It can't/shouldn't be just an after thought.
Two philosophies have prevailed historically for those services. One has been adopted generally by Southern Baptists and is, in my judgement, incorrect. It is a performance style. [God is watching remember.] The other is a relational style. [One cell/person relating to other cells in the Body, and relating to the Head, who is NOT, by the way, the Pastor.]
It is noteworthy to remember that either of these can be the driving force of a traditional, progressive, or even emerging brand of worship. It is that driving force behind ANY style of worship program I'm addressing. Do you want to wager [pardon the expression] which I believe to be the best and the biblical one? Of course, the first relates to that previously mentioned pagan philosophy. The second will be the basis for what I'm going to share in the next couple of posts on this blog. Until then...enjoy/experience your corporate worship this coming Lord's day. The Father will be there in a special way at your family reunion.