One of the most influential courses that I took in seminary was a class by Dr. Gary Parrett called “Worship and Christian Formation.” It was in this class that I began to understand the connection between our-life-of-worship and corporate worship. He said,
“Individual worship and congregational worship inform and strengthen one another.”
This was so profound to me then because there’s a lot of talk these days about how worship is not what we do on Sunday, but how we live our lives for God every day. To that I raise a hearty “AMEN!” But to emphasize that “our whole life is worship” to the exclusion of “corporate worship” is wrong. Not only is it wrong, but it is suicidal to our ministry to each other and our mission to the world.
I am convinced that God’s total plan and purpose for his people includes a rhythm of the church gathering for edification (corporate worship) and scattering for mission (individual worship). One without the other creates a lopsided church. So on one hand we must remind each other that worship doesn’t begin and end on Sunday morning, and on the other hand we must encourage each other that our total life-response to God throughout the week includes the Christian gathering.
My goal in shepherding WBC is that we see our entire lives in relation to God’s total plan and purpose for his people. One of the ways to do this is to re-capture why we gather for corporate worship and how that affects our life of worship throughout the week. We gather to remind each other of the promises and character of God so that we might faithfully serve him throughout the week.
All of the elements of corporate worship (responsive readings, music, the Scripture reading, affirmation of faith, the sermon, testimony, the Lord’s Supper, words of commission, etc.) are planned to reinforce the good news that Jesus is King. Why is this important? Because when we leave our time of gathered worship, the gospel is called into question almost immediately by the world around us and our deceitful hearts within us. Whether it be the pressure of persecution or the lure of seduction, our exclusive loyalty to God will be called into question. Thankfully, corporate worship is God’s provision for his covenant people to remain faithful to him and to each other.