Top o’ the morning, friends!
If you know me well, you’ll know that I am very, very passionate about corporate worship. Worship during a church service is not simply the prelude to a so-called more important part of the service (i.e., the preaching), nor does it simply serve to ‘warm people up’ to be ready for the sermon. And it is not a mere singalong time or karaoke. (It mustn’t be, or else I’d prefer to show up in time to conveniently miss the first 20 minutes of church each week!!)
No, there is something deeper, more profound about the Church gathering to praise Jesus than many would readily perceive.
In her book Worship Changes Everything, Darlene Zschech, pioneer of the modern worship movement and spiritual mother to countless worshipers globally, puts it fabulously:
“When we worship Jesus, we declare His Kingdom and announce His presence. When we worship, we come by grace through faith, bringing the voice of our hearts before Heaven. When we worship, we dispel the darkness and take authority over principalities and powers. When we worship, we exalt Christ and His dominion over every situation and circumstance. When we worship, thanksgiving is our entry point, joy is our strength, and breakthrough is our inheritance. When we worship, demons tremble and angels join in. When we worship, Kingdom dominion is established in our lives.”
There are many monumental things that happen when you show up to worship God in corporate singing each week, and I’m going to focus on just a few from my worship-pastor heart.
1. Corporate worship honors Jesus deeply in a way your private worship doesn’t.
Think of the inverse. Simply put, there are some things Jesus will only teach us as we rise early to seek His face and create still space to lean into Him — by ourselves. No wife, no friends, no thousands of Christians cheering you on. This can’t be overstated. You know this. Our private worship touches Jesus deeply.
But likewise, and similarly unable to be overstated, there are some things Jesus will only teach us as we gather to worship alongside the people of God. There are certain experiences with Jesus that can only be had in a corporate context. There are special revelations of God’s goodness and timely reminders of His Fatherhood that can only be gleaned with men and women of faith on our left and right, in front of us and behind us.
And because there is much Jesus wants us to know (and un-know), and so, so much of Himself that He enthusiastically longs to give, He is honored as we seek Him during intentional aloneness and during intentional worship at church. One without the other results in immature faith.
2. Corporate worship strengthens the community of the Church.
There’s something unmistakably special about an experience in Jesus’ Presence shared with other believers. As we lift up the same song, worshiping “full-on” at the same time, allowing our hearts to be moved by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, it inevitably breeds unity, which naturally breeds comm-unity.
You need the Body of Christ. Without it, you are simply an elbow hopping around, or an eyeball rolling down the street. You are one part of something larger. Bible-based, Spirit-led corporate worship will foster that beautiful sense of unity that is essential within the Church at large.
3. Corporate worship releases people into freedom.
I already mentioned this, but there are some experiences that you need to have that can only be had in a corporate setting. If you need freedom — emotional freedom, mental freedom, physical freedom, financial freedom, whatever — you will not be able to achieve the level of freedom Christ intends for you to have, as an island unto yourself. Once Christ sets you free, this beautiful liberation is maintained during your investing into the Body of Christ and allowing the Body of Christ to invest into you.
As a worship pastor, I’ve seen it again and again and again — people just get free when they are in the Presence of Jesus with other believers. I’m not necessarily talking here about waving-a-hanky, stomping-around-the-room freedom (but, hey, that happens and I love it!); I’m talking about a freedom where chains fall off of people’s lives. You can see the sudden deliverance represented on their faces, in their eyes. Chaotic fear that has robbed years from someone’s life — gone in an instant. Insecurity that has viciously haunted a person and destroyed relationships and self — vanished. Life-controlling addictions of gambling, pornography, over-eating, and pride — abruptly loosening around a person.
Even experiencing someone else’s freedom can in turn set us free. It’s a beautiful, supernatural shift!
Corporate worship releases people into freedom!
4. Corporate worship is a powerful weapon against darkness.
Maybe the devil is terrified of the unity that happens with corporate worship — maybe he’s petrified of the freedom that takes place during corporate worship — maybe he’s horrified of the growth in selflessness that happens in the Body throughout corporate worship — but whatever the case, gathering with other believers to triumphantly declare the praises of Christ the Deliverer strikes fear into the heart of every demon!
Where one puts a thousand to flight, two put ten thousand!
Yes, of course, we must not neglect the personal discipline of lifting our hearts in aloneness. But likewise, we must not neglect the discipline of gathering together with other believers to declare God’s praises! The supernatural shift that occurs in the atmosphere as we exalt Jesus in unison simply cannot be overstated.
So with that — get with some other believers in church this week and sing!!