What do Pentecostals believe about 'worship'? Pentecostalism believes that worship is the primary means by which Christians draw near to God to offer him a sacrifice of praise, in faith that his blessings will follow. This blessing involves the manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence amongst Christians as they worship. A central reason, if not the reason Christians should gather together is for corporate worship in the Spirit, for it is there that God reveals himself in particular.
While affirming on the one hand that ‘worship is a lifestyle’ (it's not about one day per week, but every hour of every day; it's not about an event or an experience, but about belief-fuelled behaviour), on a practical level however, the focal point of worship in Pentecostalism is the corporate event, the 'worship meeting.'
Churches meet in ‘worship centres’. A time of ‘praise’ prepares individuals and the whole congregation for the ‘worship time’ that will follow. The aim of the worship time is for each individual to achieve genuine openness to God at the deepest (or highest) level. It is during this time that individual ‘worshipers’ seek and move close to God. This partly involves 'letting go' on a mental level; letting go of 'personal baggage' and inhibition. This allows individuals to move beyond the mind to find God himself. When this is achieved on mass (worshipers collectively 'enter in', and are united in 'pursuit' of God), then the worship meeting and centre becomes a place where God's special presence is revealed, “a place where earth can touch heaven” (to quote Hillsong).
The act of ‘drawing near’ to God in particular involves offering him a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. But often it is more than this: From the front, ‘worship leaders’ urge the congregation to ‘enter in’ (to the realm of 'worship'), not only because this causes God's presence to be manifest (or be felt), but also because this 'offering' of praise 'exalts' or lifts God up (He is ‘enthroned on the praises of his people’). In other words, God is enthroned or 'glorified' as his people praise him (Hence the old hymn, “we enthrone you,” and “I exalt you”).
In this sense, God acts in a special way when Christians praise and/or worship him: God 'reigns' (locally) as king through our act of acknowledging and submitting to his kingship in worship. It follows then, that as his people worship him, he becomes active in a special way. That is, God's Spirit is 'poured out' or 'rains down' and therefore God 'comes' and 'moves’ and 'works' in the midst of his people, as they worship him wholeheartedly.
The ‘worship team’ (musicians, singers and leaders) are therefore instrumental in this process. The worship leader and his/her team are seen as central to the church's purpose for meeting. Their role is to help the church to 'enter in' to worship wholeheartedly, and consequently “experience the manifest presence of God” (To quote Integrity Music's purpose statement). They do this in two stages by their own praise and worship: Firstly, by ‘ushering in the presence of God’ to the meeting by being the first to 'enter in', and secondly by leading the congregation 'into the presence of God’ as the congregation begins to follow their lead in worship.
The Pentecostal and indeed all charismatic movements also strongly emphasise private worship to God. Whether this happens in one's own home or car, individual Christians need to maintain their own private devotion to Christ by setting aside 'quiet times' (or loud as the case may be) where they worship God every day. This type of worship really amounts to the same activity as the main meeting, except that a Cd recording of a live worship event replaces the function of the ‘worship team.’
But this 'lifestyle' worship obviously involves isolated individuals and so lacks the 'corporate' element. Therefore, the public meeting remains central to worship in Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement more widely. For in the 'worship meeting' Christians experience something that is really unlike anything they do at any other time: they make a corporate sacrifice (or free will offering) of praise to God. God ‘delights in the praises of his people’ (collectively), and therefore this special activity carries the promise of a special blessing for the individuals who participate in the church-wide experience.
In summary, at the very heart of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements is a belief that central to the purpose of churches gathering is the public formal worship event where Christians draw near to God both individually and corporately to offer sacrifices of praise in the expectation that God's blessings will follow, which involve the coming of his active presence into their meeting and lives.
But does Pentecostalism have a concept of worship that is its own? Is this concept of worship the biblical concept of worship? What is worship? Why do we do it? How do we do it? Why did Christians meet together in the New Testament? What should be the purpose of our congregational gatherings together? These and others are the questions we'll be talking more about.
talkingpentecostalism.blogspot.com | joe towns: christian discussion on pentecost, charisma, pentecostal and charismatic beliefs, the Bible and Jesus; including the origin and history of pentecostalism, baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, gifts and miracles, divine healing and word of faith, prosperity and wealth, praise and worship, guidance and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.