Congregational Participation

What are the values that unite us in our corporate worship? For what are we aiming when we gather together on Sunday morning?

For the last several weeks, I’ve been answering these questions, one value at a time. So far, I’ve explained that we want our worship gatherings to be God-centered, cross-centered, and Scripture saturated.

Another value for corporate worship is congregational participation. We want our people to be involved in the service as much as possible—singing, praying, reading Scripture, actively listening, giving, serving, and more. There are several reasons we pursue this goal. First, we believe the New Covenant spreads out the priesthood to include all of God’s redeemed people. Through Christ, every redeemed man and woman is a priest before God with full access to His presence and full authority to bring their offerings directly to Him. So when we gather for worship, all the priests should be involved!

Second, we believe worship is something we do—that is, primarily a verb instead of a noun. Unfortunately, the self-centered, consumeristic, entertainment-driven society in which we live predisposes our own hearts toward getting not giving, evaluating not participating, and using not producing.

Third, we believe corporate worship offers a setting where certain aspects of God’s character and certain facets of the Christian life can be most fully experienced.

Practically, this value we place on congregational participation means:

  • We invite the whole assembly to participate actively in each part of the meeting, giving expression to our belief in the priesthood of all believers.
  • We involve as many of our members as possible in simple expressions of leadership in the meeting, recognizing no hierarchy of function within the New Covenant community.
  • We make congregational worship elements the norm rather than individual ones, endeavoring to counteract our culturally furnished appetite for entertainment.