But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, ESV)
The following are some of the basic principles by which we seek to plan and practice corporate worship at High Pointe Baptist Church. (As best as I can remember, these principles were influenced by a sermon series I listened to by John Piper on worship titled, Worship God.)
1. True worship is God-centered.
We were created to worship, and we are commanded to worship God alone (Exodus 20:3-5; Revelation 22:9) in the ways that He has outlined in Scripture (Ecclesiates 5:1-7). Therefore, as we prepare our hearts for worship let’s remember that worship is about God, not us.
2. True worship is Christ-focused.
Jesus Christ is the image of God, the creator, sustainer, and reconciler of creation, and the head of the church (Colossians 1:15-20). It pleased God to reveal Himself through the Son and to reconcile us to Himself through Jesus’ death. So with the disciples, we worship Jesus (John 20:28); Jesus is the focus of worship because He’s the focus of the Father’s work.
3. True worship is Spirit-empowered.
The Bible makes it clear that we are born into this world as children of wrath and dead to God. However, by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:1-10), we are made alive to God and dead to sin (Romans 6:1-14). Only those who have been made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit can truly worship God; these are the true worshipers God seeks (John 4:21-24).
4. True worship is Word-based.
God’s Word (the Bible) is the basis of everything we do in worship (announcements, welcome, singing, praying, preaching, etc.). Why? Because God works by His Word. He created by His Word (Genesis 1); He sustains His creation by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3); He came into this world as the Word (John 1:1); He saves us by the power of His Word (Romans 1:16). Preaching is the primary form of the Word in our worship because this is the model Jesus and His disciples left us (Luke 4:43; Romans 10:14-15) and because we are commanded to preach the Word until Christ returns (2 Timothy 4:1-2).
5. True worship engages both mind and heart.
True worship requires that we engage God with our minds as we study His Word and seek to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. At the same time, it requires that we engage God with our hearts as the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives overflows and causes us to praise God in complete delight. This means that our worship will be passionate and Spirit-filled because it is based on the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what it means to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
6. True worship is edifying.
Though worship is about God and not us, true worship will build up believers in both mind and heart “until we all attain the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man” (Ephesians 4:11-13). In other words, though worship is all about God, it will benefit us and cause us to grow in our love for Him and one another, for worship has both a vertical (Godward) and a horizontal (corporate) direction.
7. True worship is more than Sunday.
As believers in Christ, we are not to neglect gathering together (Hebrews 10:24-25). However, true worship is an everyday matter. We are to give our entire lives over to God as living and holy sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). That means we worship God in how we live, work and play every single day of our lives.