What is God-centered worship? Isn’t all corporate worship in Christian churches God-centered? No. Some churches have made other concerns—man-centered concerns—the focus. By its most basic definition, worship that is God-centered is not man-centered. Churches that seek to be attractional by the world’s standards rather than biblical standards fall into the second category. Worship that is God-centered is focused upon God and governed by Him. This means that Scripture guides its practice.
Scriptural worship in both the Old and New Testaments is foundationally about God: revering, honoring, and glorifying God for who He is and for His acts of grace and redemption. As the O.T. priests offered animal sacrifices to atone for Israel’s sin, they acted in faith in God’s promises for the coming messiah and final sacrifice in Jesus Christ. Daniel Block defines the “Dimensions of Biblical Worship” as fear, prostration, and service (Block, 8-23). All point us as worshipers to center around God and His being. Hence, our worship is always unto God; He is the focus or object of our worship. Certainly there are horizontal as well as vertical aspects to corporate worship. The various functions of preaching and singing (Col. 3:16-17) as a part of Scriptural instruction in worship make this clear. Yet all of this is done through Christ as we “draw near” to God with “full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-25).
As fostering understanding of God-centered worship is foundational to this site, I want to point you to other articles that contribute much toward this goal. One tradition that demonstrates a pursuit of Scripture-regulated worship is traditional Reformed worship. Author Terry Johnson represents this heritage and does a excellent job of helping us understand what God-centered worship is and is not in his article “God-Centered Worship” (Tabletalk Magazine). Johnson states:
The Christian life begins when a Copernican revolution takes place when I remove myself from the center of the universe and recognize that God alone reigns there (Matt. 16:24; Rom. 12:1–2). Nowhere should this revolution be more obvious than in the worship of the church.
Johnson’s article provides a succinct presentation of how God-centered worship, worship that keeps its aim set upon glorifying and enjoying God, is not only the type of worship that God desires but is also the best for us.
For further reading on God-centered worship, see the articles below:
- “God-Centered Worship,” by Dr. Guy Waters. Waters is Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary and the author of several books. This article focuses on the biblical functions of each person of Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is vital for us to understand the God we are worshiping as Scripture reveals Him. Waters states, “In Romans 1:21–23, Paul says that to worship anything or anyone other than the true God is evidence of futile thinking, a darkened heart, and the abandonment of wisdom.”
- “Restoring Biblical Worship,” by David De Bruyn. De Bruyn is Pastor at New Covenant Baptist Church in Johannesburg, South Africa. This article speaks to the concept of rightly ordered worship and rightly ordered affections. De Bruyn states, “Corporate worship ought to set the tone for private worship; not vice-versa.” Thus, we should have a “carefulness and watchfulness” regarding our worship and God’s prescriptions for it.
- The God-Centered Worship Essentials series on this site. Open this link and scroll down to the bottom to begin with the first article.
Block, Daniel I. For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014.
Johnson, Terry. “God-Centered Worship.” Tabletalk Magazine (January 1, 2005).
Waters, Guy. “God-Centered Worship.” Tabletalk Magazine (April 1, 2012).
De Bruyn, David. “Restoring Biblical Worship.” Religious Affections Ministries. Accessed May 30, 2016. Available from http://religiousaffections.org/articles/articles-on-worship/restoring-biblical-worship/; Internet.