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What comes to mind when you think about worship? For many of us, we think of church services, songs, and the Bible. Do you realize that everyone (all people everywhere throughout history) is a worshiper? To worship is to render reverence, adoration, or homage to someone or something. While proper worship that is biblically practiced is always focused on the One True God who alone is worthy of our worship, people everywhere worship something.

Even unbelievers realize that everyone worships. In his book, How the Nations Rage, Jonathan Leeman quotes novelist David Wallace.

There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.

David Foster Wallace, This is Water.

The question that remains, “What/who will we worship?” In the coming weeks at Wilkesboro Baptist, we’re going to explore the subject “Revelation and Response in Biblical Worship.” This worship series will explore a variety of biblical texts to see God as he has revealed himself as the focus and object of our worship. We will also explore the proper response of the Christ follower through the applied practices and patterns of worship found in the Bible.

In the lead up to this series, I’ve been meeting with our musical worship leaders, Mike Matheney and Dustin Deal. In our studies, research, devotion, and reading, we’ve discovered ten worship values that should undergird our worship. These values are biblical and formative. These values guide our worship corporate worship practices and strategies. While they are not exhaustive, these values do inform and form our corporate worship at WBC. They are listed below for your review. In the weeks to come, I will be posting on one value a week for us to consider and practice.

  1. Worship is THEOCENTRIC. Theocentric worship begins with God and is about God; it does not begin with us nor is it about us. Worship that is Theocentric is also Christocentric. It is about Christ and for Christ. It is Trinitarian: to the Father, for the Son, by the Holy Spirit. In this sense, worship in its revelation from God and response to God is inexhaustible because our Trinitarian God is inexhaustible. See Matthew 4:10.
  2. Worship is CONGREGATIONAL. Congregational worship is corporate, for the gathered congregation to engage actively together in the worship of God. Worship occurs in the assembly of God’s people (Psalm 149:1) and is to be practiced regularly (Hebrews 10:23-25). Congregational singing and participation in worship are some aspects of this value.
  3. Worship is RELATIONAL. Relational worship is the opportunity to interact personally and relationally with God (and others) through Jesus in the Holy Spirit. God knows us and allows us to know him. See John 10:27-30; 17:3.
  4. Worship is SACRIFICIAL. Sacrificial worship is what we bring to God as a response to God. Because worship is Theocentric and begins with God, worship should cost us something. Worship that costs us nothing with regard to time, effort, energy, preparation, and sacrifice is not acceptable worship. See Romans 12:1-2.
  5. Worship is SCRIPTURAL. Scriptural Worship is framed, guided, directed, and expressed through, by, and from Scripture. The Bible is our authority with regard to what we believe (doctrine) and how we live (devotion). That worship is framed by revelation, how God has made himself known through Christ and his Word, forms the foundation for Christian worship. See John 1:1-5; 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
  6. Worship is MISSION-ORIENTED. Mission-oriented worship reflects our mission to lead our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus by replicating worship and worship leaders in the life of the church and by scattering the gathered congregation with the life-altering affects of experiencing God in worship. Biblical worship is not just about what happens in the room, but how what happens when we gather shapes what we do when we scatter. See Psalm 96; Matthew 28:18-20; Revelation 5.
  7. Worship is HOSPITABLE. Hospitable worship is deferential and unifying rather than tribal and preferential. A regular refrain in the book of Psalms is to “sing a new song” to the Lord. Too many churches and Christians have become divided over worship preferences related to style and form. This ought not be because the object of worship is God and the goal of worship is God’s glory, not our preferences. See 2 Samuel 6:14-15; 1 Corinthians 14:26, 33.
  8. Worship is PREPARED. Prepared worship is reflected in the intentional preparation of those who lead the gathered experience as well as the personal preparation of the worshiper. Prepared worship derives its value not primarily by the excellence of the event, but the prepared heart of the worshiper. God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), and expects believers to worship from a prepared and ready heart (John 4:23-24).
  9. Worship is ETERNAL. Eternal worship recognizes that worship is not merely something we learn to do in our earthly lives, but it is the primary activity of Jesus followers in eternity. The glory, holiness, and greatness of God will demand our attention and focus in heaven. See Isaiah 6; Revelation 1, 4, 5.
  10. Worship is GOSPEL-SATURATED. Gospel-saturated worship intentionally depicts and declares the gospel in our content (songs, sermons, scriptures) and liturgy (structure). Not only is the gospel to be the content of our worship services (1 Corinthians 2:2), but the gospel is to provide the framework and structure for our worship services (Colossians 3:16-17).

Reader, here’s what I’m asking you to do.

Gather with your local church over the next several months and worship with others. If you attend WBC, then do your best to worship with your church family weekly.

Read and consider these posts on our worship values. Evaluate your personal and corporate worship using these values.

Consider the greatness and glory of our Creator and Savior and give him the praise and adoration he deserves.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

This post is especially for my readers who attend Wilkesboro Baptist Church. Earlier this year I preached through 1 Timothy. For me, and I believe for our church, it was a fruitful enterprise. Paul described necessity of godly character and doctrinal fidelity in order for a church to be healthy. Those sermons allowed me to share some thoughts on what the Bible teaches regarding church polity and structure. Out of those sermons and simultaneous conversations with church leadership, we have become convinced that a local congregation should be led by a plurality of pastors or elders. I have previously written on this topic from the perspectives of polity, church health, shepherding, accountability, and leadership.

About 3 months ago, I asked our spiritual emphasis committee (Lee Bentley, Wade McInnis, and Jon Snider) along with our deacon chairman, Steve Melton, and our deacon secretary, James Sullivan, to assist me in revising our Bylaws at WBC to reflect what a plurality of elders would look like in our local church context.

Our work together has been fruitful and encouraging. The product of our work has been the Fifth Amended and Restated Bylaws of Wilkesboro Baptist Church. One comment in particular during one of our meetings highlights the godly leadership present at WBC for decades. “We don’t have people fighting for power or position at WBC.” That is so true. In my almost seven years leading WBC as pastor, we have not conflicts with staff, deacons, or other church leaders for direction and power. We have worked together in our attempts to fulfill our mission of leading our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus. This Bylaw revision process is another example of working together to help WBC to remain faithful in doctrine and in mission.

At the deacon’s meeting on Tuesday, July 12, the deacons unanimously approved Fifth Amended and Restated Bylaws of WBC that reflects a structural and organizational shift to a plurality of elders.

Church Bylaws are intended to guide how the church operates in organization and structure. I believe church Bylaws should be reviewed and revised regularly. This most recent revision is an attempt to be biblical in structure while recognizing the very helpful framework that is already in place. While these Bylaws guide us, they are not our ultimate authority. God through His Word is our authority.

These Bylaws do not go into affect unless the membership at WBC approves them. So, as a member of WBC, you have every right to access, read, and review this set of Bylaws. There are a number of ways you can access this bylaw revision.

  1. In the Beacon (week of July 17) we will provide the url address to a page on our website that will include 3 downloadable documents. The first document will be a copy of the current Bylaws revised in 2011. The second document will be a copy of the revised Bylaws for your review. The third document will be a side-by-side of both sets of Bylaws so you can easily compare the sections that have been revised.
  2. We will email those three documents to our email distribution list.
  3. If you do not have computer access, we will print you a copy of the proposed Bylaw revision. Please come by the church office and our administrative staff will be happy to print a copy of the revised Bylaws for you.

For a Bylaw revision to be approved, the membership at WBC must be notified of the revision thirty (30) days in advance of a vote.

There are several ways we are going to provide opportunity for questions and interactions regarding these Bylaw revisions.

  1. First, if you have any specific questions or concerns about any Article, Section, or Paragraph, please call the church office and set up an appointment with me. I will make myself available to answer your questions.
  2. Second, we’re going to make our Bylaw revision committee available to visit your Sunday school class per request between now and the end of August to answer any questions you may have regarding the Bylaw revisions.
  3. Third, we will have a Town Hall discussion opportunity on Wednesday evening August 17 to discuss these Bylaw revisions and how they will affect our church structure and polity. During that discussion time, I will highlight several of the recommended revisions and take questions from the floor.
  4. Fourth, we will present the recommendation to approve these Bylaw revisions at our church conference on Wednesday evening August 24.

Please reach out if you have any questions about our process or the Bylaw revision. May God continue to bless the mission and ministry of Wilkesboro Baptist Church.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash