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Corporate Worship

Corporate Worship

Psalm 100:1-5

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2     Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Application

  • What was your main takeaway from the sermon?
  • Did the Holy Spirit lead you into any situations this week where you had an opportunity to put your takeaway(s) into practice?
  • What impact did those opportunities have on you spiritually?

Discussion Questions

  • Why should the entire service be designed in a way that is orderly and purposeful?
  • How can worship be an emotional experience? What does that look like?
  • Why is it important that the worship service is vocal? What are some things that help you participate in Worship? (please answer according to what you have control over as opposed to what you might prescribe others to do)
  • What does it mean that our worship should be missional?
  • Why is God-centeredness important for corporate worship?
  • How can worship help you interpret this cultural moment in light of God’s faithfulness in every season?
  • How might this high view of corporate worship inspire your involvement with Sunday mornings?

2.4.2024

Transcript

Corporate Worship

*This transcript is generated from the sermon audio. This document has not been edited for spelling, grammar, or exactness.

We’re going to be in psalm 100. Psalm 100. So if you want to grab a Bible and if you grab one that’s here, we’re on page 516. Five, one, six. Psalm 100. Let me read the psalm and then we’ll pray and we will get to work. Psalm 100. It reads like this. I’m going to start in the heading. Reads like this.

A psalm for giving grateful praise. Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us and we are his and we are his. We are his people. The sheep of his pasture enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name for the Lord is good and his love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Let’s pray. Lord, as we’ve opened your word together, we’re praying that by your spirit, through your word, you would speak over us. Lord, help us to hear your voice and help us to think clearly about coming together week by week to worship you. So we commit this time to you and we ask that you would have your way. We pray this in your name. Amen. Amen.

We’re in a part of a sermon series right now where we’re looking at the local church. We’re looking at who we are as Park City church. And we’ve come to a place now where we’re looking at the things that we do when we gather. We’re looking at the particulars there. Last week we talked about preaching and the style of preaching that you will ordinarily find here at Park City. And today we’re going to talk about this concept called corporate worship. Corporate worship, meaning what do we do when we come together as a church family to worship God? Now, the Bible tells us that as believers in Christ, that our entire lives become a worship event. We live our lives constantly worshipping the Lord, and we are intended to do that, but it still maintains the importance of a time in which the people come together under the Lordship of Christ and we, with one voice, lift our voices to God. So what does that look like? What does that look like? And so we’re coming to psalm 100, and we’re looking at this psalm to help us think through the elements of what we do when we gather. So I’ve got seven things here, and they’re somewhat brief, so don’t get too worried about this, but let me share these with you, and then we’ll work our way through it.

When we come together to worship, our corporate worship should be purposeful, emotional, vocal, missional, pastoral, invitational, and generational. I’ll say that one more time, by the way, I’ll remind you along the way of what we’re talking about. Worship can be purposeful, emotional, vocal, missional, pastoral, invitational, and generational.

PURPOSEFUL

First, our worship should be purposeful. I see this in the heading there at the top, where it says a psalm for giving grateful praise. It has a purpose. It is a psalm that is meant to be brought forward when the people of God assemble for this reason, giving grateful praise. So the psalm book actually reminds us that there is a host of different psalms that they can use, and they have different themes and different melodies and different things that they do here in the psalm book. But all of it is meant to be used by the people of God for their worship experiences. What we come to find out as we look at the book of psalms is that they have this intricate worship pattern. They have a plan, and that plan is a historic one. It goes all the way back to first chronicles, chapter 28, where David gives his son Solomon a blueprint. And it’s not just a blueprint for the facility, though. It is that also. But it is a plan that God has revealed to him about all the different elements that go into the corporate worship of the people of God, including architecture and furniture and the features within the facility itself. And then the division of workers he assigns different categories of these people are given to this, and these people are given to this, and these people are gatekeepers, and these people are musicians, and these people are singers. And God has given him a plan for all of that. And he’s able to say in verse 19, all this God made clear to me, and he says, the Lord revealed all the work to be done according to the plan. So there’s a plan for the people of God to worship God in a particular way. And what I’m noting here then, is the importance of the worship plan. When we come together on a Sunday morning, it should not feel whimsical. It should not feel like, well, we’ll just see what happens. But in fact, as we see in the Bible, there’s often a thoughtfulness that goes into the ordering of service, and we need to follow that. We need to recognize that there are a lot of different things that can happen, and they’re all significant. Sometimes we call it the liturgy or the order of service, the different things. I’ll show you mine up here. We have a thing called the order of service. And it’s got the different elements on there. One of the convictions that I have is that all these things matter. That everything that we do, from the call to worship on the front end, to the prayers that are offered during the service, to the taking up of tithes and offerings, to the reading of scripture and the sermon, and even the announcements and some of the other things that we don’t do often enough, like the confession of sin or the pronouncement of blessing and all these different things. Everything that happens during a service can be leveraged for the sake of our spiritual growth. Let me read this quote to you from Matt Merker’s little book, corporate worship. It reads like this. We should see the church’s worship service, the whole thing, not just the sermon, as a mass discipling activity. And then he quotes Mike Costper saying, the gathering isn’t simply a spiritual discipline, it’s a host of them. It’s a way of taking the experiences of prayer and worship, which we so often compartmentalize and individualize and unifying them in the life of the congregation. Merker says, since the gathering such a powerful, corporate discipling tool, we should treat the liturgy with care. Everything that we do here can actually help us grow spiritually if we are purposeful, if we think through all the elements and how they come together and help us in this regard. So we need to design the service with that purposefulness, with that intentionality. And that idea is maintained in the New Testament. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul will write letters, and he’s telling people, like, for instance, Timothy, in his letter to him, he tells him, instructions for worship. Here are the things that you should do, because this really, really matters. Or he writes a letter to the corinthian church, and in the 14th chapter, he describes the importance of that corporate gathering. But it’s confusing. So I’m not going to share the whole thing with you, because it deals with some tricky issues, and oftentimes we get lost in the details of that. But we don’t see the bigger argument. We lose the forest for the trees. But in chapter 14 of one corinthians, Paul says, when you come together, this is the big argument. When you gather, when you come together, he gives some teaching on some things that are happening there, and then he tells why. He says, when you come together, here’s what you need to do. Do everything with decency and in order. He says, you need to design your gathering so that it is a sensible gathering that helps people grow spiritually. So our worship services should be purposeful all the different things that we do on a Sunday morning can contribute to our spiritual growth.

EMOTIONAL

Secondly, corporate worship should be emotional. Look at verses one and two. Shout for joy to the Lord. All the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him with joyful songs. Now, what I’m underlining here are all the different elements that show up in these two verses that describe an emotional response to God. And in this case, it’s a response of gladness. We got that in the heading. This is a psalm for giving grateful praise. So here we find people shouting for joy. We find people worshipping the Lord with gladness. We find them coming before God with joyful songs. But there’s this emotional component to it. Now, it’s not always going to be grateful thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s going to be lament. In fact, if you just kind of flip over and you look at some of the other psalms and the headings there, you’ll notice that the psalm book includes the whole range of human experience and emotion. So, for instance, if you look at psalm 88, it’s a song. It’s a psalm of the sons of Korra. Some of the writers and performers of this psalm here, it has a particular musical tune to it. It can’t be uppity because this one is not an uppity content that they’re going to sing. And then it describes it here. It’s this lament person experiencing tremendous difficulty. I’ll just give you the preview. In the last verse of psalm 88, here’s how it ends. Talking to God, you’ve taken from me friend and neighbor here’s the ending, last line in the psalm. Darkness is my closest friend, the end. But that is emotion. And so when we gather together, we have to create space for emotion to be displayed here. When we gather together for worship, whether we’re expressing gratefulness to God or we’re expressing lament or difficulty, we have to build into our service the opportunity for us to be affected at the heart level, where we can express what’s really going on. And the services need to be designed with that end in mind, that we should recognize the importance of emotion. So we shouldn’t come to church with folded arms, go through all the motions and be apathetic, like whatever I just did church today, but I was unmoved by it. The church service ought to touch us at the level of affections. And so in some cases we’re going to be joyful and sometimes we’re going to be devastated. Give you an example of this briefly on our prayer request form that’s online. People can submit prayers there. We created an online form for that so our team could get all the messages, and we could pass that along very quickly, and then we put an auto response on it. We received your request for prayer passed along to the team now, and they’ll be praying over these different items that you’ve shared. Thanks, and have a great day. And somebody reaches out to me and they said, I’ve been submitting prayers on here, and I’ve not had a great day in a long time. And what you’re communicating in that email template is something that is foreign to me and inappropriate, and that’s true. And sometimes we can come into church and we can have that same disconnect, that what is happening in here is foreign to my experience. So, as a church, we have to decide when we gather together. We need to create space for the entire range of human emotion, from joyfulness on the one end to despair of psalm 88 on the other, and everything in between. But we have to have services that reflect the fact that we are human beings who feel, and so our services have to move in that direction.

VOCAL

Third, our services are vocal. Look at verses one and two again. This time I’m underlining the fact that there is a verbal component to our worship. Shout for joy. Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him with joyful songs. What we’re getting at here is when the people gather, the expectation is the people participate. The people are singing, the people are expressing the matters of their heart to God. And when we gather together, we have to recognize this is an ambition. This is part of why we do this, so that the congregation would be enlisted in worship, that we would employ you in the worship of God. This is a part of who we are as a church. This is why we exist. Matt Merker, again, he says this singing is a part of each member’s ministry to the whole body. When you join a church, you join the choir. You become a steward of your voice for the spiritual vitality of the body of Christ, a steward that you fulfill, a stewardship that you fulfill in part by opening your mouth in song. When you come in here, you are not a spectator. You are a participant. And our services need to be designed for that purpose so that you would feel comfortable recognizing. I come in here with a ministry to offer to God, with a stewardship of my voice for the sake of the glory of God and for the sake of one another in here. So the way in which we design our services, it really does have to include this ambition. There are implications then for everything that we do, implications that are significant. And I’ll touch on them briefly. We can’t double click on all of them, but if you think about the fact that all of us should come in here and be able to sing, that has implications on the songs that we choose. We need to choose songs that are accessible so that ordinary people like me, who I don’t know how to sing, but it needs to be available to me so that way I can participate as well. So song selection is under consideration. The technology that we have, beautiful that we have technology. It is a luxury. The ability to have a microphone, that’s a luxury. There’s not a verse in here that says, if you want to start a church, you need a soundboard. I’ve not found it yet. It’s a luxury to have amplification, but now we have to use it. Like we’ve said, very purposefully, the amplification of instrumentation or voices up here can actually help or hinder the experience of corporate worship. In some cases, we can overamplify things. And what we communicate subtly is your voice doesn’t matter. These ones do, and that’s a tragedy. Or we can use the lighting in here in a way that actually goes against the stuff that I’m talking about here. Here’s what’s interesting. There’s Aspen group, which is an architectural firm that builds churches, and the Barna group, and they do all these studies about how people design churches and what it feels like, and then what unbelievers want as well. One of the interesting things that both of those groups have taken away is right now, most church architecture is far more influenced by theater than by the history of the church. And so we’ve designed stages to be a place of performance, and we’ve designed the lighting to be performative. So that way what you see is the stage and you vanish because you’re just an audience. But listen, the Bible reminds us over and over again that our corporate worship should be vocal. So for you to vanish during the service is wrong. You might be thinking, Cory, you sound like you have an axe to grind here, or you sound grumpy or, I don’t know what’s going on here, but this feels pretty somber. I guess I want to say this as a qualification. This feels important to me and has for a long time. And it’s also something that I feel like I need to do a better job with. And in fact, several months ago I wrote this in my goals and wanted to invest myself more in these things and then a lot of other things kind of leapfrogged ahead of it. But this sort of stuff is very important. And what I’m trying to say is I am not in any way looking at our team going, hey, they’re doing a poor job here. Everyone who’s up here is doing a wonderful job. All of our musicians and vocalists and our tech team and everyone that’s contributing to the ordinary worship services are doing a wonderful job. And I bear the responsibility for any of the inadequacies that we might find here as we go through psalm 100. So let me read a quote with that in mind. This is on me, and I’m not trying to pick on anyone in particular, but I found this quote to be very, very helpful and in a way that’s upsetting but good. This is Charles Spurgeon, so you can blame him if you’d like. He’s dead, by the way, so good luck with that. Baptist preacher in 1870, writing a newsletter to his church in London called the Sword and the Trowel. He writes to his church, he writes these articles and he writes this. It’s a long one, but I think you’ll see its value here in a moment. He says,

O sweet singer of Israel, remember that the song is not for your glory, but for the honor of the Lord who inhabiteth the praises of Israel. Therefore select not anthems and tunes in which your skillfulness will be manifest, but such that will aid the people to magnify the Lord with their thanksgivings. The people come together not to see you as a songster, but to praise the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Remember also that you are not set to sing for yourself only, but to be a leader of others, many of whom know nothing of music. Therefore choose such tunes as can be learned and followed by all that none in the assembly may be compelled to be silent while the Lord is extolled. Why should so much as one be defrauded of his part through you? Simple errors are the best and the most sublime. Very few of the more intricate tunes are really musical. Your twists and fugues and repetitions and rattlings up and down the scale are mostly barbarous noise makings, fitter for Babel than Bethel. If you and your choir wish to show off your excellent voices, you can meet at home for that purpose. But the Sabbath and the church of God must not be desecrated to so poor an end.

Tell us how you really feel, Spurgeon. Right. But the point that we’re making here is when we gather. This is intended to be an experience that we all share, and our voices matter. So the way we design our services has to be accessible for anyone to join in this thing, and we have to work toward that end.

MISSIONAL

The fourth thing that I note here is that our corporate gathering should be missional. Look at verse one. It says there that it’s calling for all the earth to worship God, and it’s reminding us that worship is designed to propel us out into the world. For instance, psalm 67. I’ve preached on it before. The title of that sermon was missional worship. If you look at psalm 67, it’s saying that what we do when we gather is actually meant to move us out into the world in love and service and sacrifice. And what we do when we gather also needs to be accessible to unbelievers. So when we worship, we want the stuff that we do here, and you’ll notice it in the sendoff. We want what we do here when we gather to help us scatter with the glory of God and the name of Christ on our lIps. When we gather, we should express hospitality, recognizing that people might come in here who are not yet believers, and so we want to be hospitable to them, explaining things along the way. Had a couple of conversations this week with members of our church that have visited other churches recently with family members and friends, and they said that was weird. And sometimes church can be weird, but our church, we should, as a family, decide, let’s be hospitable. We’ll do certain things because we have certain convictions, but let’s be hospitable to anyone who might join us. Let’s explain things along the way and invite people to understand what we’re doing. Again, the New Testament is very clear on this one. Corinthians 14. That’s another feature of that argument there in that chapter. What Paul says is, make your church orderly and intelligible so that if an unbeliever or inquirer comes in, they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, God is really among you. So let’s design our services to propel us out there into the world with love and the name of Christ on our lips, and let’s do things in here in such a way that people could come in here and experience God.

PASTORAL (GOD-CENTERED)

The fifth thing that I note here is pastoral. Now, this one’s the stretch, okay? I’m using the metaphor here of shepherding, which is there in verse three to describe the God centeredness of our worship. It says at the end, there we are his people, God’s people, the sheep of his pasture. And the latin word for shepherding is pastor. So here’s the point that I’m actually making. Our worship needs to be God centered. Look at verse three in its entirety it says, know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. What it’s saying here is we’re being invited to worship God with an awareness that God is God. Know that the Lord is God. Know that he’s our creator and we are his creation. Therefore we have an obligation to him. So the reality of the corporate worship experience should awaken us to the glory of God. So much of life is designed around us. We’re at the center. It’s all for me. The world needs to bend to my desires and my will. But when you come in here and you gather with the people of God, the thing that you should walk away with is an awareness of God. And sometimes that means that the services are entirely non applicational. I don’t stand up here and go, you guys should do these three things. Sometimes you just get a glimpse of God and that’s enough. It was for Isaiah. Isaiah went to a church service. Nothing about him in there, nothing. No practical applications, no takeaways. But here’s what happened. He watched as the angels worshiped God and Isaiah fell on his face. And it changes his life and his ministry. We need to come in here and there needs to be times where we just feel the gravity and the glory of God. And so we need to design our services in such a way that that could occur. C. S. Lewis put it beautifully when he said the perfect church service would be one that we were almost unaware of. Our attention would have been on God. The perfect church service. You’ll leave and you won’t talk about the preaching, and you won’t talk about the songs, and you won’t talk about the prayers that were offered. You will talk about God because you will have encountered him. Our services need to be God centered.

INVITATIONAL

Sixth, they need to be invitational, verse four. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. It’s inviting people to step into this experience of worship, enter his gates. So you get to make a choice. Will you come into the worship experience with that sort of expectation? Will you come in here with the anticipation and that you are going to meet with God and it will be profound and great. We all get to choose what we do on a Sunday morning. We all get to choose what we do, if we’re going to get up and get moving, if we’re going to come in here and we’re going to anticipate experiencing the glory of God or not. My father in law used to drill this into my wife and my sisters in law, I believe, and I don’t have this written down, but he would say things to them like this, don’t let your Saturday night affect your Sunday morning. And we all get to choose what we’re doing. But if we’re attentive to the invitation of God to come into, enter into his gates with his people and expect that he’s going to meet us there in a profound way, and we get to choose whether or not we’re going to embrace that and expect that if we began to look at the church service with that sort of anticipation, you wouldn’t miss it. You wouldn’t miss it for the world. I get to be with the family of God and experience the glory of God. It’s invitational and we must continue to recognize the invitation that the Lord extends.

GENERATIONAL

Finally, it’s generational. Look at verse five. It says, for the Lord is good and his love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations. It’s generational. He is God and he is good and his love is enduring permanently at every age and in every place. His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations. It’s generational. Here’s what I’m trying to get at here. When you come into the assembly of God’s people and the service is designed in such a way that it helps you recognize that God is always God and he has been good through every season of human history. The problem that we have is our periphery is too narrow. And we look at the cultural moment that we find ourselves in and we can’t imagine anything else. And we interpret it and we assess it and we go, oh, it’s so bad right now. It’s so awful. Look at this. Look at what we’re going through. But the assembly of God’s people gives us an opportunity to have a historical awareness of God. There are times where I will draw your attention to God’s faithfulness, to his people in Old Testament history. And you can see, oh, it was a lot worse back then, what you’re going through today. I’m sorry, the gas prices are a little high, but they had it much more difficult. That historical awareness situates you in such a way that you can worship God when you begin to see his faithfulness is permanent, his love endures forever and he has been consistently good and consistently faithful through all generations. You reinterpret your moment and you begin to recognize, okay, there is a way for me to be faithful right now because God is always good and he is always faithful.

CONCLUSION

Those are the several different things that we can give consideration to as we gather for corporate worship week by week. We can design our services in a way that reflect these seven different purposes. We can be purposeful, vocal, emotional, missional, invitational, pastoral and generational. And when we do that, we create an environment for us to come in here week by week and experience God. And that helps us to know him better, and it changes us to reflect his image better and better.

Let’s pray. Lord, we are so very grateful for the privilege that we have of coming together as a church family. And too often, Lord, we take it for granted. We treat it as if it’s insignificant, when in fact, we see here in your scriptures that the corporate gathering of your people is a significant event. So, Lord, help us to recapture the wonder of what you can do on a Sunday morning and help our services to be reflective of your dire and your design for us. We, as Park City Church, want to do a good job of worshiping you as we come together. Pray this in your name. Amen. Amen.

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