I often reflect on the differences between corporate and private worship. (For clarity, private worship would be just me and God while corporate worship is more than me and God.) It took me sometime before I began to realize that there was a needed and valuable difference in these two experiences. It was only through the natural tensions found in collaborative effort that I began to realize God expected there to be a difference in the way I related to Him when it was “just me” and when it was “the family”.
When I am speaking with, singing to, or experiencing God in a personal setting, I enjoy Him and make efforts in hopes of His enjoying me. I do so while recognizing His place in and over my life and I do so as the son, the personality, the unique individual that He designed me to be.
When I am speaking with, singing to, or experiencing God with others desirous of doing the same, I realize that my approach must be different. I must submit myself to a more communal setting. I must intentionally make room in the experience for others that are also participating in the experience so that all participating in the moment may enjoy God in the collective setting…another setting that He desires and He enjoys.
I find this to be true when I spend time with my two boys, as well. When I am with each of my sons individually, we do things in which we share a common love and enjoyment; things that are unique to us. When I am with both sons, I do things that allows for all three of us to enjoy our time together. I love my boys immensely in BOTH settings. And seeing them loving one another while they are loving me does my heart good.
This clip of corporate worship was taken from our church’s most recent Sunday morning worship service.
I love these people dearly. Each time we complete our preparations for another corporate worship experience I am always inspired and encouraged by seeing how it all come together in spite of our best and worst efforts, our personal preferences (likes/dislikes), and our diverse talents and gifts. The Body of Christ is a beautiful mystery to me.
It should be noted while reviewing this clip that several of the arts ministries at my church received news that we were going to begin implementing some changes that would, to various degrees, effect the way in which a few of our teams served in the corporate worship experience. (The changes are being made in an effort to better position our congregation to more effectively reach our community with the Gospel message.)
Though change is typically met with various degrees of discomfort and chagrine, this clip is a testament of the strength of the spiritual bonds holding the Body together through the power of the Holy Spirit and of the commitment these artists have to serving Christ and His people. I praise God that I serve with people that worship Him with a ministry mind-set; a mind-set of servant-hood. There is evidence that these precious people understand the dynamics of submission, sacrifice, and service involved in corporate worship.
Songs, statues, all works of art, and any of the works of our hands or minds are NOT sacred. It is our love for God and His love for us that is a true and sacred treasure; not the expressions of that love. The expressions are certainly meant to be enjoyed and savored. But they should remain firmly held in the context of the hope that the person of our love is receiving the gift of our love and not merely observing the activity of it.
Societies will change. Styles will change. Cultural norms will wax and wane. But the truth that is proclaimed on this clip, “You will be our God and we’ll be Your people forever.” will never change. I love God. I love His people. I love being with God. I love being with His people. I love being with God’s people in His presence while being a part of the corporate expression of our love for Him.
2 thoughts on “Corporate Worship in the Midst of Change”
Count me in! I haven’t yet heard of the changes you are talking about or whether or not “my” ministry areas are involved, but you have my support either way. I worship God, not a particular style of Sunday service or its elements. Corporate worship requires flexibility and compromise, trusting our leaders and sometimes sacrificing our tastes for the common good. I have my hymnals and my flute and uninhibited praise during my personal, private worship! It’s all about that audience of One.
I must intentionally make room in the experience for others that are also participating in the experience so that all participating in the moment may enjoy God in the collective setting…
And you do this very well Jason.