Saturday, August 14, 2010

Worship's Three Audiences

Recently, Pastor/Blogger Joe Thorn interviewed Worship and Arts Pastor, Mike Cosper of the Sojourn Community Church in Louisvilly, KY., concerning worship practices; specifically, how theology should affect worship practices of the gathered church.

I have copied part of the interview below. This particular section offers support to my triperspectival rubric for the church. In the last paragraph below, I insert the three essential realities of the church to show how they parallel what Cosper identifies as the three audiences of worship. You can read the entire conversation here >>


Q - How does theology shape what you do at Sojourn gathered?

We have a strong liturgical structure for our gatherings, and that flows from our theology of worship and our ecclesiology (theology of the church).

A biblical theology of worship tells us that Christians have only one call to worship (the call of the Gospel) and only one worship leader, our singing savior, Jesus Christ. Biblical texts like the book of Hebrews and Revelation show us that our Savior is at the center of worship, leading us in praise to the Father, while the Father calls us to praise the Son. The Spirit of God inhabits our hearts, makes the Gospel call effective, and stirs us to respond in worship.

Functionally, our gathering is shaped to remember the Gospel, remember the work of Christ, and celebrate him as the center and leader of our worship. For instance, we regularly try to remind the church that when they worship, they join the Son in glorifying the Father, they join the Father in glorifying the Son, and they join the Spirit in glorifying the Father and the Son. We also remind them that the worship leader on the platform isn’t doing something priestly or sacramental, but is just another member of the body of Christ. Only Jesus can lead us to throne room, only Jesus can make God’s presence powerful and intimate, and only the Holy Spirit can stir hearts. Worship leaders (and congregations, for that matter) merely participate in the glory-sharing work of the Trinity. So we cultivate humility and simplicity in our attitudes towards worship.

Ecclesiology is really important too. In the New Testament, we see the concept of worship as a time and place reality thoroughly deconstructed by Jesus (John 4), Paul (Romans 12), and the author of Hebrews. So one could be left with an understanding of worship that asks, “why gather?” I’ve developed a little memory device that helps teach the way that the Bible explains worship. It’s called “Worship 1,2,3”

Worship has ONE object – the triune God, revealed in the scripture as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Worship has TWO contexts – the broad context of all of life (unceasing, living-sacrifice worship) and the narrow context of the gathered church, who gathers to encourage and build one another up, offering a foretaste of what is to come when Christ returns an heaven and earth are joined together. (Jeremy Begbie calls this an “echo of the future,” which is one of the coolest phrases in all of Christendom.)

Worship has THREE audiences – Our Triune God is both the object of worship and one of its audiences [Glorifying], but the scriptures also tell us to pay attention to two other audiences – the Gathered Church (Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:23-24) [Community], and the watching world (1 Corinthians 14:22-40) [Missional].

3 John 8
Bill H.

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