Corporate Worship – Vertical and Horizontal

So what or who is our time of ‘corporate’ worship for when we are gathered together? It may sound like a simple question and the obvious answer is – “it’s for God.” If you go a little deeper though, how does this happen? Asked more specifically – what are the components or elements that we should aim for to ensure God is rightly glorified in our time together?

As a worship team/ministry here at Visio Dei we work to maintain two elements in the front of our mind:

-The Vertical
-The Horizontal

The Vertical:
A vertical mindset helps to keep us looking up to our creator. Our songs, our words, and our hearts should be directed to the God who made us and sent His son to this earth to bring us back into life. He alone is worthy of our affection and our worship and so our focus has to be towards Him. Our songs should be more about Him and the gospel than ourselves. Again, this could seem obvious but how many other things do we find ourselves thinking about when we’re here on a Sunday morning?
-our coffee
-whether the music is too loud or not loud enough
-where we’re going for lunch
-the obvious and overwhelming problems we may be facing at any particular moment

It’s all too easy, given the world we live in, to continually – over and over again (this means the same thing as continually), – think about nothing other than ourselves. The truth is we were made to think of life in light of who God is (as opposed to who we are) and that’s when our life makes sense and that is where we find peace. It’s what we were created for.

When we gather our worship leaders are focused on leading us in songs that point us away from ourselves and towards the greatness of our God… that point us towards the gospel.
If we truly remember how big our God is… That’s when our problems, our strife, our burdens are going to seem much smaller.

Of course to worship God just for ourselves defeats the point… we do it because He is worthy. But only in that moment are we truly living as we were created… giving God our worship. Only then are we correctly worshipping God vertically.

The Horizontal:
Sometimes in a quest to ‘rightly’ worship God and God alone you end up with a gathered church of individuals not recognizing the rest of their brothers and sisters. You could possibly even end up neglecting some real emotions or experiences that acknowledge where we really are in our lives. This has never been the intent of the gathered church. Paul says in Ephesians we’re to “address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs… singing and making melodies to the Lord.” He also says in Corinthians (1 Corin 14:26) that “when you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for the building up”

When we sing there is a ‘horizontal’ element that is to build up other brothers and sisters gathered with you. As you sing you are reminding, affirming, and encouraging the entire church of what is true about our God (this is called edification of the church by smart people.) We are in a sense discipling one another. God is glorified through our ministering to one another.

As you gather with your church to worship I challenge you to think through both of these elements. Your God is worthy of your affection and your worship. If what we believe is true… we should worship our God with our whole hearts (without thinking solely of ourselves.) Also – your brothers and sisters are gathered with you and in some way, by God’s design of the church, are going to be built-up by your declaration, celebration, and response to the truths of God and the gospel. You have a responsibility when we worship to your church family.

I look forward to gathering and worshipping with you this Sunday. I pray we rightly worship our God and build up one another in the gospel.

– Jason

Thoughts for this post have been inspired by, among other things, a book entitled ‘Worship Matters’ by Bob Kauflin. Many thanks to Bob for the years of labor he has put into leading churches and worship leaders into right worship of God.


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