The host of the worship service is divine. We do not invite Him to be present. He invites us.
He always initiates; we respond.
The worship leader issues God’s invitation to join the heavenly throng that already and always praises Him. The privileges and responsibilities of the call to worship that actually commences our focus on revering God are too good to displace with comments regarding the weather and yesterday’s football game.
By using the words of Scripture as a call to worship, the leader automatically urges God’s people to respond to His disclosure of His own nature and purposes. This pattern established by the call to worship shapes the rest of the worship service. We do not approach God on our terms, but His. When He speaks, it is our obligation and privilege to respond appropriately in praise, prayer, repentance, testimony, encouragement of others, and service to what He declares about Hhimself. This corporate dialogue in which we as God’s people respond to God’s revelation is the sacred rhythm of covenant worship.
—Bryan Chapell, Foreword to Robert I. Vasholz, Calls to Worship
The search for worship that is gospel-true, heart-resonant, and culturally relevant has taken several turns over the last half century. Some movements have sought release from formalism and traditionalism; others have found renewed appreciation for ancient forms of worship that link the contemporary church to its primitive roots. Each has sought to unchain the church from cultural norms that keep the worshiper from experiencing the reality of Christ. The norms that some want to escape are what they consider anachronistic traditions that have deadened church culture. The norms that others want to escape are the secular consumer values that they think have invaded church culture.
—Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Worship, 69
For the reformed, worship is a lifestyle of humble service that culminates corporately at least once a week, where God’s chosen people join with the heavenly chorus to praise Him for His vast attributes, confess our inabilities, affirm His grace, yield to His instruction, celebrate His mercies and respond to His covenantal call.
—Bryan Chappell, “Worship as Gospel Representation”
While there are many references to . . . worship elements in the New Testament, nowhere is a precise order or style mandated. And while we have examples of some of these elements, we never receive directives regarding the precise content or length for our expressions of them. . . .
The scarcity of liturgical mandates in the New Testament cannot reflect the writers’ lack of concern for rightly worshiping God. . . . Instead, the lack of explicit detail must reflect an intention to guide us by transcendent principles rather than by specific worship forms that could become culture-bound, time-locked, and superstition-invoking.
—Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice, 108