Public worship occurs when the people of God assemble for the express purpose of giving to the Lord the glory due His name and enjoying the joy of His promised special presence with His own people.
In public worship all should join. The little strings go to make up a concert, as well as the great.
As secret worship is better the more secret it is, so public worship is better the more public it is.
On Sundays God wants us to do more than sing songs together and have wonderful worship experiences. He wants to knit the fabric of our lives together. For many, church has become all about me – what I’m learning, what I’m seeking, what I’m desperate for, what I need, how I’ve been affected, what I can do. We see ourselves as isolated individuals all seeking personal encounters with God, wherever we can find them. Sadly, this reflects our individualistic, me-obsessed culture. Rather than seeing ourselves as part of a worship community, we become worship consumers. We want worship on demand, served up in our own time, and with our own music.
In the process of striving to fulfill our needs and satisfy our desires, the church has slipped into a philosophy of “Christian humanism” that is flawed with self-love, self-esteem, self-fulfillment, and self-glory. There appears to be scant concern about worshiping our glorious God on His terms. So-called worship seems little more than some liturgy (high or low) equated with stained-glass windows, organ music, or emotion-filled songs and prayers. If the bulletin didn’t say “Worship Service,” maybe we wouldn’t know what we were supposed to be doing. And that reflects the absence of a worshiping life- of which a Sunday service is to be only a corporate overflow.
The church is not a building made with stone. It is a building made with living flesh. We believers are living stones in God’s temple (1 Pet. 2:5), and when we come together we constitute a place of worship where God manifests Himself in ways that He cannot manifest Himself when we are alone. Believers become the living temple of God, offering to Him spiritual sacrifices not possible anywhere other than in the assembly of the redeemed church.
The source of most of the problems people have in their Christian lives relates to two things: either they are not worshiping six days a week with their life, or they are not worshiping one day a week with the assembly of the saints. We need both.
So the crucial factor in worship in the church is not the form of worship, but the state of the hearts of the saints. If our corporate worship isn’t the expression of our individual worshiping lives, it is unacceptable. If you think you can live anyway you want and then go to church on Sunday morning and turn on worship with the saints, you’re wrong.
Real, meaningful worship with God’s people is not optional. It’s not a suggestion. It’s not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. Worship on the Lord’s Day should be the crowning joy of our week. It’s our opportunity to engage our minds toward God. To enjoy His people. To bask in His presence. To corporately drink from His Word. To give of our talents and resources. To encourage and to be encouraged. To offer praise.
Fruitful and acceptable worship begins before it begins.
[After] worshiping God as a way of life the previous six days in both private and family worship…public worship will be a natural outflow.
The lifelessness experienced in so many churches in our day can be traced directly to the multitudes of families in those churches which contain Sunday-morning Christians only. It is plain to see the cause for such deadness when such individuals are not consistently worshiping God in private. Statistics reveal that only 11 percent of all professing Christians in America read their Bible or some portion of it once a day. If so few professing Christians are spending time alone with God, it should not be surprising that family worship as a practice among professing Christian families is practically nonexistent.
A steady diet of performances by soloists or even choirs can have the unintended effect of undermining the corporate, participative nature of our musical worship. People can gradually come to think of worship in terms of passive observation, which we do not see modeled in the Bible. Such a diet may also begin to blur the line between worship and entertainment, especially in a television-sopped culture like ours, where one of our most insidious expectations is to be always entertained. Of course, this blurring is hardly ever intended. But over time, separating the “performers” from “the rest of the congregation” can subtly shift the focus of our attention from God to the musicians and their talent – a shift that is frequently revealed by applause at the end of some performance pieces. Who is the beneficiary of such applause? (Mark Dever and Paul Alexander).
Music is a subset of our corporate worship, and corporate worship is a subset of our total-life worship (Mark Dever and Paul Alexander).
If what we’re doing on Sunday mornings is corporate worship, then it makes sense to give deliberate preference to congregational singing – singing that involves the active participation of the whole congregation (Mark Dever and Paul Alexander).
People ought to come to corporate worship services to get. They ought to come starved for God. They ought to come saying, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God” (Psalm 42:1). God is profoundly honored when people know that they will die of hunger and thirst unless they have God.
Anything which makes it easier for us to worship should be encouraged while anything that draws attention to itself rather than to God should be eliminated from the corporate services.
I believe that in public worship we should do well to be bound by no human rules, and constrained by no stereotyped order.
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified.
I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the church, the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the "program." This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the public service which now passes for worship among us.
How is it possible to worship God publicly once each week when we do not worship Him privately throughout the week? Can we expect the flames of our worship of God to burn brightly in public on the Lord’s Day when they barely flicker for Him in secret on other days? Isn’t it because we do not worship well in private that our corporate worship experience often dissatisfies us?