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9 Things that Christian Worship Should Be by Zac Hicks

Summarized from the Prologue to The Worship Sourcebook:*

1. Christian worship should be biblical.

  • worship includes prominent readings of Scripture
  • worship presents & depicts God’s being, character, & actions consistent with how Scripture does
  • worship obeys explicit biblical commands about worship
  • worship heeds scriptural warnings about false/improper worship
  • worship focuses primary attention where the Bible does–on Jesus

2. Christian worship should be dialogic.

  • God speaks through the Spirit, and we respond in a variety of ways
  • worship is initiated by God
  • worship balances attentive listening and honest speech

3. Christian worship should be covenantal.

  • worship renews, affirms, and seals the new covenant in Christ
  • worship rehearses God’s promises to us
  • worship allows us to recommit to our covenant relationship
  • worship enables us to speak to God as faithful/committed covenant partners

4. Christian worship should be trinitarian.

  • worship addresses each person of the Trinity
  • the Father invites us to worship and hears our response
  • the Son perfects and mediates our praise and petitions
  • the Spirit helps us comprehend what we hear and prompts our response
  • worship draws us into relationship with God (the Father) through God (the Son) and by God (the Holy Spirit)
  • worshiping Trinity keeps us from the temptation to worship worship itself

5. Christian worship should be communal.

  • worship demonstrates and deepens our unity, holiness, and witness
  • worship reveals how otherwise remarkably different people praise together, pray together, listen together, and make promises together

6. Christian worship should be hospitable, caring, and welcoming.

  • worship must never be self-centered
  • we pray for the world
  • we offer hospitality to those who live in fear, despair, and loneliness
  • worship sends us out into the world for service and witness
  • worship both comforts us in the gospel and disturbs us about the brokenness and need of the world
  • worship stokes the gratitude of our hearts, which leads into serving the world

7. Christian worship should be “in but not of” the world.

  • worship always reflects the culture out of which it is offered (patterns of speech, styles of dress, senses of time, rhythms and harmonies of music, visual styles & symbols)
  • (but) worship is never enslaved to culture, prophetically challenging what is at odds with the gospel of Christ

8. Christian worship should be a generous and excellent outpouring of ourselves before God.

  • worship should not be stingy
  • worship calls for our best offerings (music, words, money, time, etc.)
  • worship practices excellence worthy of God


The only thing I might add (to be fair, the Sourcebook mentions that this list is “more illustrative than exhaustive”…though it seems quite comprehensive to me), and perhaps it is embedded within the idea of it being “dialogic,” is that:

9. Christian worship should be expectant of an encounter with God.

John Jefferson Davis’ Worship & the Reality of God helped to pound that home for me, and I believe that this (expectancy of an encounter) has been one of the great gifts that Pentecostalism has given to evangelical worship.  Other religions worship simply to obey, to fulfill ritual obligations, or to placate the deity.  A hallmark of Christian worship is that the Divine chooses to condescend, reveal Himself, and minister His presence among us.  Christian worship, therefore, should be eager and expectant of this blessed Reality.

* “Prologue,” in The Worship Sourcebook (Grand Rapids: CRC Publications, 2004), 16-17.

Zac Hicks is the Associate Pastor of Worship and Liturgy at Cherry Creek Presbyterian in Denver.  He is an avid blogger and recording artist, having contributed to several retuned hymn compilation albums in addition to two full-length worship recording projectsThe Glad Sound (2009) and Without Our Aid (2011).  He is a contributing author to the forthcoming book, Doxology & Theology (Nashville: Lifeway, 2013).

About Matt Boswell

Matt Boswell is the founder of Doxology & Theology, and Pastor of Worship at Providence Church in Frisco, TX. Follow Matt on Twitter @mattboswell.

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