Heart Worship in the Body

Though I trust it’s been unintentional, the contemporary worship movement has conveyed that a certain level of production quality is necessary to achieve faithful modern worship.

In this sense, contemporary worship has come quite a long way from the folk guitars and simple choruses of the 1970s, which were designed to democratize congregational singing so that more people could engage with it meaningfully. In the 2000s, contemporary worship media have embraced the values of polished production and mass-market appeal. But as modern praise has become more professionalized, it’s led at least some church leaders to conclude that they’d be better off foregoing human musicians altogether and leaving accompaniment to the (virtual) experts.

The good news is that God gives each congregation all they need to serve Him. First Corinthians 12:18 reminds us that “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” If that means a church is unable to produce the same quality of music they see at worship concerts and on YouTube, then we can trust God’s good purposes. He cares far more about the state of our hearts than the ability of our band to recreate the sound of an online video.

—Matt Merker, “How Contemporary Worship Music Is Shaping Us—for Better or Worse” https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/singing-congregation-contemporary-worship/

For the Church

Worship is indeed for the Church, while it waits for the Kingdom, the time and place par excellence at which it finds its own deep identity….What makes the Church first glimpse, and then see clearly, its true face is meeting with Christ and learning from Him what sort of Bride it is that He loves. It is on Christ’s face that the Church learns who it is.

—Jean-Jacques von Allmen, “The Theological Fame of a Liturgical Renewal,” Church Quarterly 2(1969-70), 8

The House of God

Worship shapes individual  and community character. In specific terms, it must be relational rather than institutional. For example—and here the trivial makes the point—we almost inevitably hear the person leading worship welcome people into the house of God. This is emphatically not the case! At best, the worship leader may welcome the house of God into the building in which they are meeting! Any language that suggests that the life of the people of God is known in its institutional and physical structures must be rejected.

—Noel Due, Created For Worship: From Genesis to Revelation to You, 234

The Ministry of Song 10

What is too rarely seen by commentators is that the discussion of singing and the glorification of God, in [Romans] 15:5-13, most likely comes about because Paul still has in mind the same gatherings of the Roman believers [cf. the discussion about common meals in chapter 14], which combine, at a minimum, eating together, and singing together. In Romans  15:5-7 we read, “May the God of endurance and encouragement  grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” The unity which Paul has been calling for is to be expressed in united praise, here described literally as glorifying God “with one mouth” (en eni stomati). The outworking of Jews and Gentiles welcoming one another “for the glory of God,” is to glory God with one another. And this is expressed in particular through spoken or sung praise.

—John W. Taylor, “The Lord’s Supper in Romans: The Common Meal and United Worship in Romans 14–15 as Demonstration of the Gospel”

REFORMATION 500: The Church

First, there was the insistence on the church as the divine community through which and in which worship is offered to God. We are still far from understanding the full significance of the doctrine of the church in the thought of the Reformers. It is sometimes held not only by the opponents but by the adherents of Protestantism that the Reformation meant the triumph of religious individualism over against the conception of a divine community, continuous and universal. Yet we may read as strong an expression of the priority and centrality of the Church in the writings of the Reformers as in any Roman or Anglican document.

—Rev. D. H. C. Read, “The Reformation of Worship,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8:1 (March 1955):72