In an earlier post I mentioned that at Redeemer Fellowship our guiding principles for corporate worship are that our worship must be Christ-centered, biblical, richly theological, understandable, experiential, and as free from unnecessary distraction as possible. Some has asked me to expand on that.
We have no interest in offering generic worship to a generic deity who only goes by the names "You," "Him," and "He." As Christians we are worshipping our "great God and Savior Jesus Christ," and everything in our worship gathering is leading the congregation to see and respond to the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Taken as a whole, the worship must exalt Jesus' person and work.
When we say that we work hard at being "biblical" in our worship we mean more than using biblical language. We really only want to do what Scripture prescribes for us in the gathered assembly. This is typically called the "regulative principle" in worship, but there is even debate among RP adherents. For us, we simply do not include anything as an essential element of corporate worship that isn't given to us in the word. I don't mean to make it sound like this is a simple issue, but this is how we try to operate. For us the essential elements are the public reading and faithful preaching of Scripture, prayers, song, offering, the sacraments.
We do not believe it is even possible to worship God rightly without rich theology. We are worshipping our eternal, triune God, singing of his person and work, proclaiming his excellencies, calling one another to know and obey him. Theology is the lifeblood of worship. Corporate worship with weak theology neither exalts God nor nourishes any person.
As we seek to exalt Christ, remain thoroughly biblical, and richly theological, we believe it is all for nothing if we are not understandable. What we do and say needs to be comprehended by those present. Of course for outsiders much of what we do in corporate worship will be esoteric, so while we use traditional theological language and engage in ancient practices we believe it is important to define our terms and activities whenever possible.
Worship isn't worship if it isn't experiential. We are not human billboards that merely proclaim a message. We are the people of God who are responding to the gospel in faith and repentance, with song and prayer. The worship that God desires is heart worship, not lip service. So while God is the object of our worship, the heart is what we aim for in the reception and expression of the truth of God.
Free From Distraction
To worship "free from distraction" means that we aim at removing anything that pulls our eyes away from Christ. This means the songs we choose are not only biblically sound, but are conveyed in ways that are culturally appropriate. We choose to include some things and exclude others in our worship gatherings based on whether we find them helpful in drawing our hearts and minds upward, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. For us hazers are out, and lights are up. Projection screen with words are in, but moving backgrounds are out. Many of these issues are not biblical absolutes, but are decisions we make for our particular congregation.
Much more could be said, and we are still growing/maturing in this (and all our other) ministries. I love the worship at Redeemer, and eagerly wait for the gathering of the saints each week.