6 Biblical Prinicples for Corporate Worship

I read a fascinating article today called “6 Biblical Principles for Corporate Worship” by Mark Driscoll.   In it Mark lays out 6 priniples from Scripture for describing what corporate worship should look like.  I’d like you to read the full article, then jump back here for discussion. Basically, he says corporate worship should be: God-centered, intelligible, seeker-sensible, unselfish, orderly and missional.

I found it interesting how Mark differentiated between seeker-sensitive and seeker-sensible in #3.  Also, I wonder what you think about his description of unselfish worship in #4?  He speaks in general terms there, but what would that look like practically?  #6 was also interesting – are we using certain elements in our worship because they “contribute to informing faithful worship of God” or are they “perpetuating a dated form that is no longer best for ministry”?  Good question.

Anyway, I agreed with some of what he said, but I’d love to hear your thoughts! How would you describe your worship service in light of these principles?

Published by

Barry Westman

Barry Westman is the Worship Pastor at Bethel Church in Janesville, WI. He is also the Editor In Chief and Event Manager at Worship Team Training and Worship Team Training University. He is married to Tina, and has 3 rapidly growing children. 

10 thoughts on “6 Biblical Prinicples for Corporate Worship”

  1. I think I’m with Tom for the most part on this one. I wish he would have given specific Scriptural examples for all of the items in the list. The unselfish worship one seems a bit odd to me. I kind of understand where he’s coming from but I think there’s a time and place to learn from the example of others’ expressions of worship in our corporate gatherings as well. Yes, some expressions (like running around the sanctuary with a flag/banner if the church has never done anything like that before) would be extremely distracting, but some could be beneficial.

    The jury’s still out for me on missional worship. I think we need to side more with Paul when he is talking about prophecy and how the unbeliever would fall in his face and declare “surely your God is present!” If we genuinely worship God whole-heartedly, the unbeliever will automatically see and feel his presence. Mission belongs outside the corporate worship setting in my opinion (I think I could back that up with Scripture as well, if pressed.)


    1. Ryan,

      That’s the one that I struggled with, too. I’ve heard people say that they didn’t feel comfortable doing things like lifting hands, etc… because it would detract others from worship. True, honest expressions of worship should be encouraged, not guarded. I suppose one can go too far, as you described. I guess the question is, should you change the way you worship when you are in a group as opposed to by yourself?

      I would agree with you in regards to worship evangelism – as you described – when unbelievers present see true, authentic expressions of worship they do say “surely your God is present!” To me it sounds like by missional, he’s referring more to style than anything else. We’re missional when we choose a style that matches the culture we’re in. It’s easy to see that in the context of missions – missionaries who travel to foreign countries would do well to learn the language and style of music of those they are trying to reach, rather than trying to communicate with them using their own foreign language. That makes sense. But, how do we relate that to our own churches and communities. Sounds like that’s where he’s going with that one.


  2. This is pretty good as far as it went. Each topic seemed like it should be the introduction to a deeper study of the topic. He claimed it was all scriptural, but failed to give scripture for each point; rather lumping it all together at the end.

    For the points that I didn’t really agree with, it would have been especially good to see what scripture he was basing his premise on.

    If we are going to claim something is a scriptural principle, then we need to bathe it in the scriptures that apply. Driscoll did not do a very good job of doing that.


    1. Tom,

      Exactly! It was like a teaser, leaving you wanting more explanation of where he was coming from. Scriptural references would have been nice.

      Thanks for the reply.



  3. In all honesty, Barry, I don’t put too much weight on what Mark Driscoll says. I read the article, and it lacks SO much!!! Over the years, biblical worship has been applied to how WE do things instead of changing what we do to look more like scripture. If we truly want our worship to look like scripture, we must “ask for the ancient path, ask where the good way is, and walk in it” (Jer 6:16). As far as I’ve seen, not many worship gatherings do this. We want God to meet us on our terms in worship, when God is asking us to meet him on his terms. Since we are believers, we should have this understanding. This takes much humility and cannot be summed up in a 6-point blog post.

    Again, there is so much I believe this article lacks that it would take much time to explain my thoughts. The only thing I agree with is that our corporate worship should ALWAYS be Christ-centered because he is the only one worthy of our worship and our praise.

    Sorry to be so negative, but that’s where I’m coming from. May the Lord bless you and keep you, and shine his face upon you! Blessings to you!


    1. Melanie,

      Thanks so much for your reply. It certainly doesn’t have the depth that we encountered in our Pure Praise study, does it!!?? I posted this really just to get a discussion going about it. Don’t apologize for stating your opinion!

      I’m not that familiar with Mark, or other things he’s posted, this just caught my attention.



      1. No sir, it doesn’t. 🙂 What I appreciate about the Pure Praise study is that it was birthed out of encounters with God instead a bunch of heavy studying (not to say study does not apply-both are necessary).

        Most of what I’ve read or heard from Driscoll (sermons, interviews, printed statements, etc) seems to come from hours of study instead of heavy conviction of the Holy Spirit. I could be wrong, but that is my initial observation. I’m praying that more leaders are lead by heavy Holy Spirit conviction instead of assuming the rights of an apostle when they have not encountered God.

        Thanks for the discussion. Bless you, bro!!!


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