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The Uniqueness of Corporate Worship



Gathering

I want to understand the uniqueness of corporate worship so that I know how to design worship services. I’ve been thinking about wedding vs. honeymoon, and I am wondering if individual worship can be compared to a honeymoon. A honeymoon is a private celebration of unity, identity, exclusivity, belonging, disclosure, and respectful abandonment.

But what about the corporate gathering: should it more closely resemble a wedding than a honeymoon? Both weddings and honeymoons are celebrations of unity, identity, and belonging, but one is far more intimate than the other. The public event utilizes symbols, vows, order and some modesty to enact the love between two people.

I’ve noticed that the corporate worship gathering is steadily becoming more individualized and intimate. Is this due to the increasing maturity of the worshiper, or is it because individual worship and personal piety are in disrepair?

Is it like a man and his wife who are inordinately affectionate in public, but who sleep in different rooms when they go home? Has the increasing intimacy of corporate worship (evidenced in some song lyrics) evolved because of the Individual’s inattention to the discipline and practice of individual worship?

I don’t know the answers, but I want to ask the questions. Please contribute your thoughts in the comments below.

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One Response

  1. Glenn
    Glenn April 15, 2014 at 9:19 am |

    Hi Jim,
    This is an interesting and thought provoking analogy that requires personal honesty. Thank you.
    The last 20 years or so have revealed much about the “disrepair of worship and personal piety”.
    My take is that several generations of men who would never cry and rarely if ever say “I love you” to their own family members, much less God, (John Wayne syndrome) have designed and led “worship” and the local church. It has been a Spock of Star Trek-all logic and no emotion experience. Rote and ritual has ruled the day. Men who won’t “emotionally commit” can’t write love songs–only mathematical equations and formulaic triangulations.

    I see the heightened emotional, pop ballad, concert driven experiences as somewhat of a rebellion to the benign weekly meeting in Jesus name where the liturgy never includes any lifting of hands, personal prayer&personal confession of sin (not the variety done for me by the “professional clergy”) and God forbid a lump in the throat. As much as I regret the former, I so do not connect with the latter which seems to be to be more of the same on the other end. One pretends not to feel–the other pretends to feel. One denies feeling and the other adores emotions with a “golden calf” status.Both need gadgetry and ritual to keep up the unreal.

    What is it that a Christian will do in private that he or she will not do in public?
    The wedding and the honeymoon are both revealing of the bride-groom relationship.
    “A husband should love his wife as much as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” (Eph. 5:25) As I express my love for Christ in private (honeymoon) I feel no embarrassment to do the same in public at the wedding. I suspect that the reverse cannot be true. How I hope that all this “intimacy in public” is revealing a private love affair of the Jesus variety. “If you love me–keep my commandments.” “Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father.” (I John 2:15) It must honestly start with me–especially me, if I am to lead others.