What is the most important thing humanity can do? According to Jesus, it is to love the Lord our God with all that we have and all that we are (Matt. 22.37).
To love is not merely to feel emotional about God, but instead it is to choose to excite blessing and honor toward the highest and best of all things, toward the one true God who is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ by the Spirit.
Therefore, there is no higher priority for our churches than to quicken or excite this love. This is why the first of Treasuring Christ Together’s dimensions is worship. Worship is the active participation of that greatest of all loves. Here is how we explain worship:
“Enjoying and displaying the worth of Christ in God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-led, Bible-saturated corporate worship, including congregational singing and expository exultation.”
There is no shortage of church planting networks for aspiring church planters- for this we praise God. However, we at TCT want to make it clear from the beginning that the reason for our existence is to plant churches and foster a community of those churches whose priority is to worship in this way.
At the heart of our network is the establishment of assemblies whose main intention is the diffusion of joy as they manifest the excellencies of the greatness of our Trinitarian God in congregational singing and expository preaching.
Congregational singing and expository exultation are not the only ways that churches worship; however, we do believe these to be two of the most important ways that we are quickened to love God. Congregational singing is the familial response of the people to the wonderful truths of God. Expository exultation allows God’s voice to be heard above the din of lesser voices, and it does so in a manner that is triumphant!
How easy it is in planting churches to lose sight of worship. Between evangelistic initiatives, financial planning, and counseling (not to mention the throngs of other voices we hear day in and day out), we are tempted to focus on other things.
I’ve been there myself. I can recall in the early years of our church plant being so focused on evangelistic encounters that I lost sight of why I was doing all of it in the first place. I had gotten a part time job, joined a tennis league, a softball league, and was also helping coach a little league baseball team. I would leave my wife and small child alone most of the day and return weary only to wake up and do it again the next day. After a few months of this my energy was sapped, my marriage was strained, and my affections were cold. But why?
Was it all for the formation of a community whose purpose was to “enjoy and display the worth of Christ in a God-centered way?” Had you asked me, I would have said, “of course.” But this intention was leaking out of the sweat glands of my soul in favor of only gathering a crowd quickly.
I needed a community of people both here in the city I was planting and a network of brothers and sisters in other places. A community that would help quiet my soul to enjoy God and help quicken my soul to plant a community whose aim was also to enjoy God and display God in the fullness of worship.
It’s easy to talk about having the love of God for our aim in church planting. It’s another thing to drink it in and be quickened toward that pursuit.
At TCT it is our intention to make the love of God the heart and soul of our network. Consequently, allow me to make a couple practical suggestions for how you can facilitate this kind of environment.
To begin with, make sure to open all your gatherings with God-centered prayer and Bible reading. Not the kind of perfunctory methodologies that use these devices as mere starting points, but instead see prayer and scripture as invitations to worship the greatness of God. Use rich blessings and robust supplications for God to be glorified in the gathering. Read passages with unction that express the infinite worth of God.
Next, choose songs that not only a band on the stage can sing, but instead choose God-exalting songs that all God’s people can sing together. Historic hymns like, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” fit this description, but also more recent songs like Matt Papa’s, “Come behold the wondrous mystery,” will serve this end as well.
All this builds toward the moment of preaching. The preacher should properly explain and apply each passage with a view towards highlighting God’s faithfulness and the Gospel’s invitation to respond in praise. Let us not leave our people with directives without devotion. In this way, we can lead our churches to be quickened towards our great end of enjoying God forever and ever.