Purpose Statement for Corporate Worship
To facilitate growing a community of mature worshipers at Southern Gables Church where our worship is biblical, God-centered, excellent, of the Holy Spirit, in truth, of the people, and joyfully offered to Him so that our lives may increasingly glorify Him.
We believe that music used in corporate worship (including weddings, memorial services, and other types of worship services) should be:
- Biblical — The Bible is without error and our authority for worship. It contains principles, examples, and directives to inform our concept of worship. Music serves in worship as praise, prayer, and proclamation (Ps. 96; Ps. 51; 1 Chr. 25:1). Although there are distinctions, in these ways the music ministry shares similar roles and goals with the preaching ministry. Music may carry our thanksgiving as well as our lament and cries for mercy (Ps. 95; Ps. 102). It should contain psalms, hymns, and songs with voices and instruments (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16-17; Ps. 150). Texts must not conflict with the teachings of Scriptures and our Evangelical Free Theology.
- God-centered — God is the focus of our corporate worship. He is the audience. Our minds and hearts should be focused on Him, who is the object and subject of worship (Ps. 22:22; Ps. 100). Our music is offered to him, rather than to each other, and it is for His glory, not for our own. It should also edify, admonish, and teach the body of Christ (1 Cor. 14:26; Col. 3:16). Corporate worship is also a communal activity, so our engaging, singing, and responding greatly affects others.
- Excellent — Excellence is an attribute of God (Gen. 1:31; Mt. 6:1). We should offer Him the best we are able. Our music is selected by its texts, sing-ability, and intrinsic and extrinsic qualities it offers. Decisions about the quality and type of music offered in worship are determined by the Senior Pastor and Music Director who will consider musical, theological, cultural, and other informing aspects when making selections. Excellence should never be a goal in itself, however, and it does not substitute for offering music with the proper spirit.
- Of the Spirit — Without the work of the Holy Spirit, our efforts are meaningless (John 4:24; 6:63; 1 Cor. 2:13). One can be guilty of worshipping the music one enjoys. It is important to be mindful of the distinction between spiritual truth and musical pleasure. Worship directed anywhere but to God is idolatry.
- In truth — Truthfulness in worship refers to the actions we take, the attitudes of our hearts and the intentions of our minds. These should align with the biblical teachings on worship (John 4:24). Our musical offerings should be genuine and offered to the best of one’s ability. The congregation and leaders should sing hymns and songs with conviction-with the mind and the heart. (1 Cor. 14:15)
- Meaningful — Our musical offerings are intentional and have purpose. The ministers select music and other worship elements that as much as possible fit the worship theme of the morning.
- Of the people — Our music mostly finds its basis in congregational singing, the most important kind of worship music. Our prayer is for the congregation to be fully engaged in singing, listening, and learning (Ps. 111:1; 149:1).
- Joyful/emotional — One of the most significant aspects of music in worship is that it should reflect the joy of being a Christian (Ps. 47:1) and a thankful, grateful spirit (Eph. 5:19). There are many other emotions inherent in music making, and the book of Psalms provides examples of the musical expressions within the context of worship.