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yet another theological post.

So in a past life (ok so like 6 months ago) I ended my time as a peer minister at the Wesley Foundation at the University of Illinois. For most of my time there I was really involved in leading worship and have a strong passion for leading worship. Through working under some great worship leaders as well as my intensive summer of working for Mountain TOP, I've come to understand the need for corporate worship and really can appreciate worship that is leading us somewhere theologically. Sometimes worship can be something that we don't think about while we're doing it, but I think it is important to really understand the meaning behind liturgy and our quest to be closer to God. Recently I drew up a discourse on corporate worship and wanted to put it up here just for the sake of discussion. Some of this makes some assumptions because I wrote it up for use at Wesley, but I think it raises some interesting things on how we relate to God through worship. This is by no means the only way we should worship, and I know this document is very much a work in progress.

A Basic Explanation of Corporate Worship
(or why ACTED is a good thing)

Corporate worship is a tricky thing. We were designed as beings created to worship and praise God in everything we do. Throughout time, the focus of worshiping God in everything has shifted to worshiping God when it is only convenient for us, such as Sunday morning. It is my belief that this has shifted because we lack meaning behind what we do in corporate worship and therefore cannot apply it to real life situations. This is most unfortunate, as a misunderstanding of how we relate to God hinders our ability to relate to God and subsequently can cause us to feel neglected and forgotten.

This doesn’t have to be the case though… everything in our lives can be an act of worship. To achieve this point, we must have a solid understanding of what corporate worship is and how it is a continuation of God’s love for us poured out from the Scriptures.

The model ACTED is not something that can be done well without understanding the premise and meaning behind each step in corporate worship. Liturgically, churches have used this model for quite some time as it is an effective way to bring meaning to worship.

Each step is dependent on the one before and the one following, they are all linked and though room for change is possible, it is difficult and not suggested as the theology really dictates the continuation of the steps.

Adoration- Each day should begin with a realization that there is much more in life than ourselves. This culminates in the understanding that God is so much more awesome and wonderful than we could ever imagine. The psalmists put it best in declaring God’s works to be worthy of praise. Adoration can consist of any number of things, from prayers to songs, acts of showing how much bigger God is than all of us. As long as the focus remains on the mighty power of God, it is all good.

Confession- Our confessions can only come once we have declared that God is above us and is larger than we can ever imagine. Confession comes from a heart that has realized that the power of God comes before us at all times. God knows whether we are broken enough to truly confess before God and one another. Confession can be intimidating, but it is a necessary step in understanding our relationship with God. Confession can consist of any number of things, but focus on the individual is important. Recognition of the forgiveness of those sins should always be present at the end of a time of confession or people may dwell and not move into the rest of worship.

Thanksgiving- It is only when we are broken, repentant, and on our knees that we can truly be thankful for the things that God provides us with. Thanksgiving is a time to rejoice in the power of the spirit of Christ. There are so many things for us to be thankful for that we do not deserve. We are not worthy of the forgiveness of Christ, but our confession and the belief that Christ redeems us opens the door for us to be truly thankful. If there is one thing to say about the piece of worship, it should never be boring. The distinction between adoration and thanksgiving is subtle, but important. God doesn’t have to show us any love for us to move through a time of adoration, but thanksgiving happens because of the love that God shows for us.

Education- Jesus was a teacher, with thankful hearts we can be open to hearing what Christ has taught and what people have learned from God through the years. It is not just a time for a message or sermon, but a time for us to learn what it means to be a better disciple. It is powerful to have an opportunity to learn from one another as often our hearts and minds outside of corporate worship are not willing to listen as they are not prepared.

Dedication- The education piece should begin a challenge. Jesus challenged his disciples, asked more of them than they had ever been asked before. Dedication is gives us an opportunity at a new week, a new life. It is an opportunity that should not be taken lightly as it is one that we tend to forget in our day to day worship. Each day we should rededicate ourselves to being disciples of Christ. This provides us with a reminder to do so. It is often a struggle to connect our spiritual beliefs with our actions, but dedication opens a door to make the process a little easier.

Though it may seem systematic, the ebb and flow of ACTED provides a framework to work with that puts our priorities in worship in the right place and allows us to ready our hearts for the movement of God in our lives. It avoids emotional manipulation often used as a tactic within services as it has a sound structure to guide our thoughts. Corporate worship is an important piece of being in community with others and gives us the opportunity to rejoice and support each other. Most importantly, it gives us a chance to make a change and start over. Sometimes it takes a push to begin to think about the things that Jesus calls us to do and the dedication is meant to do just that.

The most important aspect of corporate worship is to keep the focus on God. A worship leader should facilitate a smooth movement through worship but not be so concerned about things beyond control. The spotlight should be focused solely on the power of God moving through the speakers and through the music. The heart of worship is not in what songs are played or whether or not the speaker is eloquent, but rather it is in the power of the Holy Spirit moving through the participants. Worship is an attitude that we should seek to exhibit in all aspects of our daily lives and with a model such as ACTED, we can begin to apply it to our lives and have a more profound, deep, meaningful relationship with God.
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Thanks for the blog update.

I have also become a fan of ACTED model of worship. There are some others to consider.

As a United Methodist you may want to also consider our "basic order of worship"
Enterance (Calling us together in God's name),
Proclaimation and Response (Scriptures, lessons sermons, confessions, prayers, and offerings),
Thanksgiving and Communion,
Sending Forth(going into God's world to do God's work).

By Anonymous Rob, at 10:57 AM  

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