Worship Architect Group Study: Phase 1

foundation

Welcome to the first of our group study of the book, The Worship Architect. It’s not too late to get in on the study – even if you’re reading this weeks after it was published!

Foundations are important. That picture at the top of the page is from about ten years ago when the church I was serving decided to build a building for our youth ministry. Since I was in youth ministry at the time, I was part of the construction from beginning to end. We spent weeks digging, measuring, digging, measuring again and then digging some more. It felt like we were never going to actually build anything Рjust keep digging and measuring.

Then, when we got down to the level we needed to get to, we staked out a string-line to mark where the foundation needed to start. That would guide us as we got ready to pour the concrete to build the base of the foundation. But did I mention that this was youth ministry and there were youth helping? At some point, someone must have knocked one of the stakes over and put it back where they thought it went. We kept on following the line – even after we poured the initial concrete for the footers. It wasn’t until we were ready to pour the rest of the foundation that we realized that it was off (kind of sad, really, because it wasn’t just off by a couple inches). If we hadn’t realized that until after we were done with the foundation, the whole building would have been misshapen. All that digging and measuring would have been for nothing.

Phase 1: Laying the Foundations for Worship

The-Worship-ArchitectThe foundation for our worship is just as important. And just like our youth building, it can be easy to misplace the string-line and not realize it. As we read these two chapters, we’ll talk about some important Biblical principles for worship that are foundational to Christ-centered, God honoring worship.

Before we begin reading, the book lists several questions to think about at the beginning of each chapter. Let’s discuss those in the comments below:

Chapter 1:

  1. What do you think is meant by the phrase “biblical worship”?
  2. Do you think that we should do only what is commanded in Scripture when it comes to ordering worship?
  3. If the Bible does not forbid something, may it be done in worship?
  4. If you had to name only one thing that would make worship truly Christian, what would it be? Why?

Chapter 2:

Look at your last six worship services as you think about and discuss these questions:

  1. How many songs mentioned Jesus Christ by name?
  2. How many references seem to be made explicitly to Jesus?
  3. Does the service begin with references to the presence of Christ?
  4. Going by the order of service alone, complete this sentence: On the basis of our order and content of worship, our worship seems to emphasize ____________________ above all else.

Throughout the next week, read the two chapters in Phase 1 of the book (And maybe read them again, since foundations are so very important!). Then, in the comments below, let’s discuss and share about these questions and others things that we’re learning.

As you’re reading through Phase 1, consider writing a mission statement or philosophy of worship for your church. What are the Biblical non-negotiables when it comes to worship and what are the implications when it comes to the way your church worships?

Let’s start laying the foundation.

About Matthew Starner

Matthew Starner is pastor of Journey of Faith Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they help people take their next step on their journey with Jesus.

12 Comments

  1. i almost forgot we were going to do this. i’m looking forward to actually get reading it. for the record, i tend to speak and then re-think what i’ve said. don’t stone me… yet.
    chap 1 q1 – i think biblical worship is recognizing and taking the time to be intent in God’s presence.
    q2 – i think there’s a lot that God doesn’t tell us in the Bible. why should worship be any different?
    q3 – i hope it’s ok to include things in worship that aren’t forbidden, otherwise there’d be an awful lot of pipe organs that should be removed. wouldn’t be an all bad thing imho.
    q4 – a heart for God that is open to receive his grace and open to give up everything.

    • Paul – I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts on #3. It’s amazing to me how some of the more traditional mindset can get so hung up on the idea that worship should be done the way it has always been done, which in their minds translates to printed liturgy, pipe organ and hymnals. But when you consider that for much of its early years the church was underground and persecuted – not that easy to hide a pipe organ – and the liturgies and hymnals that we’re so attached to would have been pretty useless before the advent of printing and widespread literacy!

      It’s like the people who argue that we need to go back to the King James Version of the Bible because that’s the one Jesus read. *facepalm*

  2. chap2 q1 – i’m ashamed to say that many of the songs do not use the name Jesus. savior, redeemer, comforter and others, but infrequently Jesus.
    q2 – outside of the musical side, Jesus is THE primary reference.
    q3 – absolutely yes. at the beginning. in the middle. and at the end.
    q4 – forgiveness

  3. Chapter 1:
    1: For me, Biblical Worship means worship that is true to Scripture, that affirms and teaches Scripture.
    2: No, because when it comes down to the practical side of worship, there is surprisingly little instruction. There’s more about the philosophy of worship than there is about what specific things to do/not do.
    3: Again, because the Bible doesn’t command many specifics (for instance, it doesn’t say things like “you should always sing the Gloria in the liturgy – unless it’s Lent or Advent. Then don’t do it!”) there’s a lot that happens in good worship services that wouldn’t happen because the Bible doesn’t specifically command it.
    4: To make it Christian I think it needs to be done in the name of Christ and for His glory.

  4. Chapter 2:

    1: In our last 6 Sunday morning services (not counting Christmas services) 8 of the 30 or so songs we did directly said the name Jesus. (A lot smaller number than I thought it would be before I began counting, but I think a lot of that has to do with the other names of Jesus that are used frequently in songs: Almighty One, Savior, Lord, etc.)

    2: Lots of references to Jesus both directly, mentioning something He has done “Water You turned into wine…” from Our God (Chris Tomlin) or indirectly, mentioning some quality such as Savior, Redeemer, or Lamb.
    3: We begin with Jesus’ name and end with it.
    4: Jesus. Most songs are about Him; communion, Confession and Absolution are about what He has done.
    .

  5. i’ll leave a couple different comments here. first, this book is very intense. i’d appreciate moving slowly through our discussion so that i have time to digest it. perhaps i’m just a bit slow, but i think there’s a lot here. and i just finished chapter 1.

    • Paul: I agree, there’s a lot to this book and slowing down is probably appropriate. I’m one of those guys who likes to hurry up and get to all of it, but a slower approach might be better.

      Also, I’ve never led an online study like this or been a part of one, so any suggestions as to how best we can do this would be appreciated!

  6. comment 2: i really liked the designations of the six foundational themes of worship described in chapter 1. i’m not convinced they are all inclusive, but i don’t have others to suggest at the moment and i think there’s value in considering the ones posited.
    as i read each of the six themes, i attempted to consider how well they are integrated in my church. to some degree, i think we cover all of these themes, but at each point there is definitely room for improvements to be made.
    and whether i think we did well in one area or not last week, i think it’s important to continually evaluate the week ahead to make sure we do what we can to incorporate these themes each worship.

    • I think that’s an important point, Paul. We need to evaluate our worship over a span of weeks or even months. There can be a lot of variance from one week to another so a broader approach is good.

      When I first started looking at the question about how often the name of Jesus was used in the songs we sing, the previous week 4 out of 5 songs had Jesus’ name in it and I was feeling really good about it! But then I started working backward through the weeks and the week before that only had it mentioned once. Thankfully, other names of Jesus were used, but the point definitely remains that it’s better to look at a longer span of time when asking some of these questions.

  7. comment 3: one particular section that caught my eye was theme four about corporate worship. perhaps it was significant mostly for me is because the worship theme in my church for sunday will be based on 1 corinthians 12 – we are all members of one body. we must not only serve as one body, the body of Christ, but also worship as one body with one heart and one voice.

  8. comment 4 and then i’ll be quiet: thank you matthew for suggesting this. i can already see this making a difference in how i worship personally and how i hope to help shape the worship for my church. i intend to share summaries of this book and my insights with my elders in the months ahead.

  9. Pingback: The Worship Architect Group Study: Phase 2, Part 1 | MatthewStarner.com

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