God has placed us here in this time and place for a purpose, and our corporate worship should reflect that reality within the context of redemptive history. We are reformational, not revolutionary. We are confessional, not traditional or modern. In order to be truly contemporary, “with the time,” we must understand our place in the lineage of the Church—which necessitates an understanding of what has gone on before. We should appreciate and utilize the wisdom and artistic excellence of the past without worshipping the forms; we should seek to create new work, without divorcing ourselves from our history.
The concept the confessional worship creates an unfamiliar category that challenges the better known ideas of contemporary or traditional. Practically speaking, what is called contemporary or traditional can be very subjective depending on time and place. As such, confessional worship offers a corrective which transcends both categories. The following thoughts may begin to help point us towards what that really means:
- Worship is the work of the Church—all other ministry flows out of right worship.
- Worship is coming before the throne of God and joining in worship with the Church visible and invisible.
- Worship instills joy, rest, and peace. It is restorative and preparation for Godly living.
- Worship is an efficacious tool in the process of sanctification.
- Worship is an antidote to the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
- There is no substitute for corporate worship in the Christian life.
- Worship is about what God requires, not what we like or prefer.
Because worship consists of the above elements, our attitude and posture in leading worship should consist of the following:
- Worship is not performance.
- The role of leading and facilitating worship is for the purpose of encouraging the congregation in worship, not to worship “at” them.
- Arrangements and songs should be chosen that are ecclesiastically appropriate—what is appropriate in other venues may not be appropriate for corporate worship.
- The criteria for what is ecclesiastically appropriate refers to text, music, the combination of text and music, arrangements, and execution.
- As leaders, we should be growing and stretching in worship even as the congregation is called to grow and stretch in the knowledge of God.
- Worship should be accessible yet excellent.
- As musicians, we should be growing in skill and depth—musically and theologically.
- Craftsmanship is a biblical concept; originality is a humanist concept.
- How we play and lead should be different than how we play and sing at a recital, coffeehouse, or concert.
- God is the standard of beauty and excellence—our worship should seek after biblical excellence and objective beauty, goodness, and truth.