In conjunction with Pastor Marty Joe's recent two part series on worship, and how we here at CCM perceive and "ascribe worth to God", I thought it would be good to share with you Pastor Gerald's thoughts from our foundations materials on worship.
Foundations Material - Worship - Pastor Gerald Martin
Another thing that the early believers devoted themselves to was the breaking of bread. We have interpreted this to mean experiencing the presence of Jesus. When Jesus broke bread with his disciples in the upper room he identified the bread as his body and the cup as his blood. After his resurrection he joined two disciples on their way to Emmaus. It wasn’t until he took the bread, broke it and blessed it that their eyes were opened and they recognized him. The Lord’s Supper became the central focus of worship for the early church. The first day of the week became the time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. In time it replaced Saturday as the Lord’s Day for believers.
Even though we don’t observe the Lord’s Supper every time we meet together for worship we nevertheless seek to enter into the presence of Jesus and experience his life transforming power. We believe that it is in the presence of Jesus that lives are changed and healed.Our pattern of worship has become one of the unique characteristics of Cornerstone and it wasn’t something we copied from others. From our observation most charismatic type churches used pretty much the same pattern, one hour of worship followed by another hour of teaching.
In the beginning that was the basic pattern we followed. However, standing for a whole hour of worship was problematic for some, especially the older people. I remember when we introduced the pattern the Lord showed us there was a peace and it answered the concerns we were hearing about needing to stand too long. Basic to the pattern that emerged was the understanding that New Testament worship has it roots in the tabernacle of David.
The Tabernacle of David
At the same time the more traditional, ritualistic ceremonies were being carried out in the tabernacle of Moses, David built a new tabernacle that was marked by spontaneous praise. Instead of the ancient rituals of lighting candlesticks, burning incense, setting forth bread and making animal sacrifices the service were marked by singing, rejoicing, dancing, clapping, shouting, instrumental music, new songs and offering up sacrifices of praise.
The tabernacle of David was a prophetic expression of what real worship was to be. It’s like God rolled back the curtain and gave David a revelation of spiritual worship and showed him that it really wasn’t animal sacrifices that he wanted but rather a sacrifice of praise. That certainly agrees with what we read in the New Testament. For instance, Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips: that give thanks to His name. That is what was happening in the Tabernacle of David.
Many of the Psalms were written in the context of worship in the Tabernacle of David rather than the Tabernacle of Moses. Someone may say, but that in the Old Testament. True, but we must understand that while Psalms is in the Old Testament it is not of the Old Testament. It’s like what Jesus said about us being in the world but not being of the world. Worship in the Tabernacle of David was actually an alternative to the old established pattern and not everyone appreciated it. David’s wife Micah didn’t like it.
When she saw David dancing and making what she thought was a fool of him self, the Bible says she despised him in her heart. She was not a happy camper by the time David got home that night.When she confronted him about it he responded by saying that he was doing it to the Lord and that he was prepared to be even more foolish in his praise to God. We see in this that controversy over patterns and styles of worship goes way back.So, I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised when it happens today.
Worship is meant to bring us into the presence of God. The word itself comes from a contraction of the old English words “worth” and “ship”. It means to ascribe worth to God.When we worship we extol the name of Jesus, we sound forth his praises and we give him glory. One of the best compliments anyone has ever given us concerning our worship was by someone after attending one of our services. She said it was evident that the name of Jesus was being exalted.
For us, a corporate worship service is not something to endure but rather to enjoy. I remember something Gene Gossett, one of our long time members, said in response to a comment someone made to him about going to church on Saturday night to get it over with so he could have Sunday free. Gene let him know that he didn’t go to church to get it over with. The attitude of getting it over with misses the whole point of worship that is to experience God’s presence and lift up the Name of Jesus. I have to admit that many church services are conducted more like a funeral than a resurrection. Like one pastor mentioning the names of those who had died in the service. One little boy quite concerned asked his parents if it was the first or second service.
Cornerstone views our corporate worship service as a celebration. In fact we uses the word celebration rather than worship to describe our Sunday or weekend service. Everything we do from the time we enter the doors until we leave is part of the service including greetings, songs, prayers, announcements, offerings, special music, sermons, ministry and even the before and after fellowship. There are four main sections to the service, celebration (welcome), adoration (worship), proclamation (word), and exultation (works).Actually, it is the same basic format we follow in our cell group meetings.
Each section has a unique focus and purpose. In the celebration section the focus is on singing songs of praise. The purpose is to break the ice, get everyone freed up and involved in praising God. The songs that are sung are usually up-tempo, joyful, hand clapping type songs with words about God. At this point our attention is not so much directed toward God but toward one another as we sing songs that declare our faith and life in Christ. The communication direction is horizontal. During this time people may still be coming in, greeting one another and finding their seats. The atmosphere is joyful, enthusiastic and action oriented. There may be dancing, shouting, applause, whistling and other similar expressions of praise.
By the time the celebration is over most everyone has arrived and found a place. Before sitting down the pastor usually invites everyone to turn and great those around them. This is followed by the official greeting, welcome, announcements and pastoral prayer that naturally leads into the next section we call adoration. Beginning with the offering and offertory the atmosphere takes on a somewhat more reverent tone. The direction of communication shifts from the horizontal to the vertical as our attention turns toward God. Instead of singing songs about God, in this section we sing songs to God. We sing directly to him.
There are usually no clapping or loud demonstrations. Depending on the words being song people may raise their hands, close their eyes, bow down, kneel or even lay face down on the floor. The purpose is to enter into and experience the awesome presence of God that often leads to a quiet time of listening. At times a prophetic word may be shared. At other times we may simply spend a few minutes in total silence basking in the conscious presence of Jesus. This is the quietest and most reverent part of the service and is usually concluded with a simple amen.
Proclamation is the third section. With the ice broken through celebration and our hearts prepared through adoration we are now ready to receive the Word of God. When there is a prophetic word or special music that too is part of the proclamation but for the most part it is the sermon. The communication direction is still vertical, but instead of it being from us to God as in the adoration, it is from God to us. The purpose of the sermon is to teach, inspire and motivate. We encourage our people to take notes and be prepared to share in their cell groups, when they next meet, what they remember from the message, what God is speaking to them and how they can be prayed for.
The fourth section in the service is exultation. The word, exult means to rejoice triumphantly. During this section opportunity is given for ministry at the altar. Pastors and cell group leaders are available to pray for and minister to those who come to the altar for whatever need might be present, including salvation, baptism in the Holy Spirit, encouragement, prayer support, healing, or deliverance. Songs are sung that express yielding, surrender, calling out to God and recommitting our lives. The communication direction is both horizontal and vertical and from us to God and God to us. This section is usually closed with a triumphant song, praise for the victories won and a strong parting prayer of blessing over the people bringing the whole celebration service to a grand finale.
Worship is a very big part of who we are at CCM. It plays in integral part in our Sunday Celebrations, our New Creation Groups, and our personal lives. I pray that as you consider Pastor Marty Joe's sermon series, and also this material from Pastor Gerald, that the Lord through the Holy Spirit will speak into your life in ways that brings encouragement and blessing as you grow in how you see and experience worship.