We Are Gathered Together… To Be Alone?
There is one contemporary worship phenomenon that just has to stop. Please. Just stop.
I am always amazed when Worship Leaders say something from the stage to the effect of, “This time is just for you and God…” Or, “Everyone close your eyes, forget about the people next to you, and just focus on Jesus…”
This approach to corporate worship is, like, basically the complete opposite of what corporate worship is all about!
Here is an interesting thought: You don’t have to be at church to worship God. In fact, I believe that Jesus gave us a little bit of insight into what God-honoring personal worship looks like.
… when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6, ESV)
This is really great advice! As worshipers, we really are called to spend quality time alone with God. It is good to set aside time to just be with Him. It can be helpful to close our eyes and just focus on Jesus, but not during corporate worship!
Corporate means group. The word comes from the idea of many people becoming as one body. This is what happens when the church comes together to worship God corporately. All of us, mindful of one another, worship our Father together as one body.
I love the “us” and “our” language that is used throughout the Psalms:
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. (Psalm 8:1, ESV, emphasis added)
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. (Psalm 90:1, ESV, emphasis added)
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! (Psalm 95:1, ESV, emphasis added)
This idea gets picked up and solidified by Paul in the New Testament, as well:
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. (1 Corinthians 14:26, ESV)
Worship Leaders, there is a time for everything. Yes, there absolutely is a time for our people to be alone with God, but that time is not during corporate worship.
When we come together, we come together to worship God together. Do not encourage your people to close their eyes and forget about their neighbors! (AND DON’T DO IT YOURSELF, EITHER!) Rather, encourage your people to open their eyes and realize that they are not alone in this journey of pursuing God.
We are gathered together… to be together. Let’s embrace this truth. Let’s celebrate this truth! Our corporate worship times serve as the one (and probably only) time of the week that our people have to worship our Father together, corporately, many people as one body.
Artwork provided by my good friend, Brooke Gehman, an authentic and wonderful man of God, devoted follower of Christ, and an amazing husband and father. Brooke is a gifted Worship Leader, an incredible artist, and a Potter by trade (check out his website).