Samples from Seminary – 7 Characteristics of Worship
Tomorrow is Sunday! That means we will have the opportunity to gather together with fellow believers in order publicly to worship God.
Worshiping God is an essential part of the Christian life. In worship, we come into God’s presence to ascribe to God His proper worth and to extol that worth.
Sadly, there is always the temptation to fall into a rut when it comes to worshiping God. It is much easier simply to go through the motions each Sunday. There is a tendency to allow worship to become cold and formal.
This post is designed to address this issue by enumerating seven characteristics of proper worship. These come from a class that we are taking this semester on the subject of worship. While we students will need to have these in our minds for a test, it would be good for all of us to have them in our minds for worship each Sunday.
- Worship is Theological. In other words, worship should be God centered. When we walk into church tomorrow, our attention should be on God rather than ourselves. Let’s not allow worship to be all about us.
- Worship is Spiritual. John 4:24 teaches us that since God is Spirit, we must worship Him in spirit and in truth. This means that we worship by the power of the Spirit of Christ. Practically, worship therefore is not outward. Rather, worship arises from the heart. Keeping this in mind will help us to avoid formalism.
- Worship is Truthful. This is the other half of John 4:24 – we worship God according to truth. In other words, we worship God in the way He tells us to in His Word. In addition, worshiping God according to truth implies that it is a great evil to allow false teachings or false conceptions of God to enter into our worship. (And I would add false notions on church government! e.g. women in office.)
- Worship is Reverent. Think of the angels depicted in Isaiah 6 who covered themselves with their wings when in God’s presence. We too should be sober as we stand before our holy God.
- Worship is Joyful. This is the counter-balance to reverence. We do not worship God as stoics. Rather, worship is festive and celebratory. Think of all the Psalms that speak of making a joyful noise to God. Remembering this will prevent worship from being cold.
- Worship is Congregational. We worship as a body of believers. This means that in worship we all draw near to God to ascribe to Him worth and to extol that worth. One implication of this: church attendance is important. The whole body should be present at worship.
- Worship is Sacrificial. This adjective for worship is intended to capture the idea that worship involves giving. In worship we bring our offerings of praise and honor as gifts to God. For worship is primarily a matter of giving rather than receiving.
Hopefully these seven characteristics of worship will help keep us from all forms of improper worship. Let’s keep them in mind as we go into God’s house to worship Him tomorrow!
Matt Kortus, PRCA Seminary, Grand Rapids.