What Do You Need to Worship God in Community

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People in the Old Testament had specific instructions on how to worship God. A faith community today has choices. Does God care how we worship today?

I remember the pastor who said he hoped he was dead before the next new hymnal was introduced . . . all the complaining and arguing convinced him that he never wanted to do it again.

I remember the woman who said she’d leave our church if I didn’t add more Christmas songs to the services during the month of December.

I’ve seen churches split over a dispute about whether or not services should stay the way they’ve been for years (traditional) or change to a newer model (contemporary).

How you and I worship in community has always been a source of disagreement…

Hymnal or no hymnal.
Organ or drums and guitars.
Choir or praise team.
English, Latin, or German.
Formal liturgy or flexible format.
Hands raised or hands folded.
Stand, sit, kneel, etc.

If you remember and have survived one or more of these battles you’re most likely nodding and cringing a little, because although we might be able to laugh about it later in the moment, it’s ugly and hurtful.

So today, as I take a look at how to worship God together, I’ll be honest with you . . . I have way more questions than answers.

And the first question is…

When is the last time we as a church body asked God how He wants us to worship Him?

I wonder, have we made worship about us . . . about our preferences. Have we turned our time together into performances for people more than praises for the King of Glory?

I don’t know. It’s just something I’m throwing out there. Something to think about.

When I read through parts of the Old Testament, God was very detailed in His instructions about worship and sacrifice. But we know less about the worship practices of the early church and very few specifics for the church today.

So, let’s do some digging and see if we can learn more…

People in the Old Testament had specific instructions on how to worship God. A faith community today has choices. Does God care how we worship today?

What Do You Need to Worship God in Community

1. Speak


Praise the Lord for the glory of His name; worship the Lord because He is holy. Psalm 29:12

So I will praise you, Lord, among the nations. I will sing praises to your name. Psalm 18:49

So through Jesus let us always offer to God our sacrifice of praise, coming from lips that speak His name. Hebrews 13:15


Give thanks to the Lord and pray to Him. Tell the nations what He has done. 1 Chronicles 16:8

Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Then Jesus used this story to teach His followers that they should always pray and never lose hope. Luke 18:1ff

2. Listen

Read the Word

The grass dies and the flowers fall, but the word of our God will live forever. Isaiah 40:8

God’s word is alive and working and is sharper than a double-edged sword. It cuts all the way into us, where the soul and the spirit are joined, to the center of our joints and bones. And it judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts. Hebrews 4:12

You can trust this: Every word that God speaks is true. God is a safe place for those who go to Him. Proverbs 30:5

Teach and Explain the Word 

Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. Psalm 86:11

Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16–173. Do

People in the Old Testament had specific instructions on how to worship God. A faith community today has choices. Does God care how we worship today?

3. Do

Make Disciples, Baptize, and Share The Lord’s Supper

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19–20

For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then He broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and His people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until He comes again. 1 Corinthians 11:23–26


For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10


“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:10

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 1 Corinthians 12:24–25

Community worship is not about you or me and our preferences.

It is about God’s redeemed people coming together to speak His praise, to listen to and learn from His Word, to grow and serve together, and to love each other as He loves us.

How each community of believers puts these things will be as unique as the people themselves but before we get caught up in traditions, marketing, and preferences maybe, just maybe it’s time for us as a community to stop arguing and seek God’s will.

I wonder what our churches would look like if we insisted on praying persistently until He directed us as to how He wants us to worship and serve Him in community.

Now it’s time for…

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  1. This…a thousand times this! “When is the last time we as a church body asked God how He wants us to worship Him?” I’m on the worship team at my church and am so loving your thoughts on worship. Good to be back in this cyber space Deb! xoxo

  2. This post could not come at a better time for me. We have just called a new pastor, and I believe that our church family is open to the movement of the Spirit of God in our midst in a new way. I’m asking God to begin the work in my own heart so that I will not get in His way!

  3. Mary Flaherty says:

    As always, Deb, you’ve done your digging–your research–and present biblically sound reasoning. Definitely something to chew on. Until Jesus comes, I don’t think we’ll ever agree.

  4. Deb, such a thought provoking post! I wonder if we think on the importance of worship often enough. The enemy will do everything and anything to keep us from worship. Earlier this morning I read Hebrews 9:14, “Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds SO THAT we can worship the living God.For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.” He cleanses us so that we can worship.
    God longs for our worship. Our pure, simple worship. Just us and Him. It is in worship that we acknowledge Who He is and give Him His rightful place in our hearts and minds and lives. We admit that He has done for us that which we could not and never cannot do for ourselves.
    Amazing to read your post as since about 5:30AM, I have had Chris Tomlin’s, “Here I Am To Worship” playing on repeat. Thank you for blessing me with your thoughts today!

  5. This is so good! Yes, worship is not about you, me, or our preferences. I remember people leaving the church I grew up in after they decided to take away the organ. That was so sad.

  6. There is something very sweet about us coming together in worship, isn’t there, Deb!
    What an encouraging word!
    I’m blessed by you~

  7. Community worship is not about you or me and our preferences. This is something my church struggle with, especially with a generational gap being seen in our community. Your words were everything scrolling in my mind these past few months. How lovely to read fellow believers are on the same page. Sue @ Mama of Three Boys

  8. Yes, Deb, we need to remember that worship is not about our preferences in the church, it’s about honoring God and loving our neighbor. I, too, wonder what the church would look like if we all got our priorities straight.
    Blessings to you!

  9. Deb- what a great surprise to see you mention me here. Thank you!

    My pastor always says church isn’t your country club. We want to make it cozy and comfortable for our own liking. We want to be served.
    Jesus tells us to serve and leave our comfort zone.

    Have a great weekend!

  10. Love this!
    I wonder if some would say they did pray about it, but in reality they just told God what they expected Him to do without humbling themselves and asking for His guidance.
    We’re such a mess without Him. Praise God we have a Great High Priest who has entered into the heavens and makes intercession for us! We sure need it!

  11. Kim Jolly says:

    Thank you for putting the focus of worship where it needs to be–on the Lord. We get things wrong so many times, focusing on the minor things. It’s not about us, it’s about Him. It would be amazing to see worship as God ordained it…


  12. Thanks for the feature Deb! I appreciate your thoughts on group worship. In our current church the pastor always says something to the effect of worship as you feel comfortable which I appreciate. It recognizes people worship differently and gives permission. Have a great week!

  13. It is important to keep strong in your beliefs, and show the lord your appreciation. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  14. I appreciate your encouragement here. I’ve been active in my church music ministry for 25 years now – a full 2/3 of my life – and so this issue is very important to me. My current worship pastor teaches us that church music should be viewed as an opportunity for us to prefer each other over ourselves. That simple truth has transformed my own perspective toward worship. Thank you for sharing this with us at Grace & Truth!

  15. Christina says:

    Many people will understand your feelings. It can be frustrating when church members disagree and churches split.

  16. Hii,

    Wonderful job at getting your point across! Personally, I love worship in a church as there is always something about being in a church atmosphere that can put my mind at ease in seconds. This is such a great and honest post. Thanks so much for sharing!


  17. Great advice here! There are definitely many ways that different communities worship, but prayers, service, and love are all things that should be a common theme. Thanks for sharing!

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