The Blessing and Duty of Corporate Worship


The Lord Jesus Christ took upon himself human nature, lived a righteous life, died on the cross, and rose again to reconcile and save a special people unto God. He did this so that the people he purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28) would glorify him and enjoy him forever. The foremost occasion when this is accomplished is in corporate worship. The corporate worship of the Lord is the highest duty of the Christian and leads to their greatest blessing.

The nature of corporate worship is so clearly articulated in the Book of Psalms. Theologian Joseph Pipa Jr states that this is particularly the case with Psalms 93 to 100.[1] In these Psalms, he says that there is a call where, “all people, men and women, boys and girls of the world are to worship the Lord”.[2] In them, we also find repeated calls to come into his presence as a group, not just as individuals. This coming is to be done with joyfulness, thanksgiving, humility, singing, reverence, gladness, a putting away of all evil, loud shouts, trembling, knowledge, love, and a great sense of awe. Psalm 100 uses the word “serve” when describing the worship God’s people are to render to him. This word implies a duty owed to God on behalf of those who participate, as well as the reality that worship takes work on our part.[3] This is a suitable word considering the great and wonderful things which God has done for his people so that they can live unto him and worship him in an acceptable manner.

This duty is expressed in Scripture by command and example. Along with the Book of Psalms, Hebrews 10:25 declares the necessity of corporate worship in saying, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”[4] The Book of Acts and the New Testament epistles are almost all addressed to churches and of the four epistles written by Paul which are addressed to individuals, three instruct pastors in their ministering to their congregations. Most of the elements of corporate worship including preaching, the sacraments, corporate prayer, and singing are all to be done in gathered groups of believers and are articulated in Scripture. The Lord’s Supper, which is a means by which Christians are spiritually united to Christ, cannot be done without a physical gathering. The New Testament lays the foundation for the church to engage in corporate worship as the highest form of worship to God. When done according to God’s commands God is pleased with the worship of his people.

Along with the duty to worship God corporately, there are numerous spiritual blessings which God bestows in worship by his grace. The greatest blessing of corporate worship is the presence of God himself. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” While the context of this passage is discipline, Pastor Frank J. Smith indicates that it also applies to corporate worship. He says, “But, the very fact that He is so present for effecting discipline would appear to bear upon worship, by means of an argument from the lesser to the greater (worship being of a higher order than discipline).”[5] In corporate worship believers, as a united body, enter the very presence of God. This is a great blessing that is not found to the same degree in any other setting here on earth. In heaven, God’s people will dwell with God and he with them and corporate worship is a picture of this glorious future.

The ordinary means of grace, the preaching of the word and the sacraments, are normally only found in corporate worship. While people can listen to pre-recorded sermons on their own or in family units, gathering physically enables discussion of the sermon and the elements of worship after the service has ended. Corporate worship also promotes brotherly love and fellowship with one another. Before and after the service participants socialize, share burdens and concerns, and show love for one another which cannot be accomplished in the same beneficial manner if no physical gathering occurred. These blessings exist because the church is the people of God as a gathered group, not individuals on their own. But the greatest blessing of sitting under preaching and participating in the Lord’s Supper in corporate worship is an increase in faith. Paul says in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” The Lord builds up the faith of his church through the preaching of God’s word.

Physically gathering together for worship also allows for the blessing of being under the authority of elders who keep watch over the souls of those with whom they have been entrusted and for whom they will have to give an account (Hebrews 13:17). This is one of the reasons why it is important for Christians to be members in a local church; to be under Christ’s authority through his ordained elders. Being together in worship enables church office bearers to fulfill their duty before the Lord and be a great blessing to his people.

Our Triune God is gracious and deeply loves his people. Corporate worship is one of the principal duties and blessings God has given to his church. Sometimes we do not know how wonderful something is until we are no longer able to do it. Those who have been prevented from corporately worshiping God for any reason know how precious corporate worship is. The next time you gather on the Lord’s Day with God’s people take time to thank him for the wonderful blessing of corporate worship.

[1] Pipa Jr, Joseph, “The Purpose of Worship,” in The Worship of God: Reformed Concepts of Biblical Worship (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland; Taylors, S.C.: Mentor, 2005), p 52.

[2] Ibid, p 53

[3] Ibid, pp 52-53.

[4] Scripture Quotations Are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a Publishing Ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved.

[5] Smith, Frank J., “What is Worship?” in Worship in the Presence of God, edited byFrank J. Smith and David C. Lachman, (Fellsmere, Fla.: Reformation Media & Pr, 2006).

About the author

John Nymann

1 Comment

  • You made an excellent point in explaining the importance of corporate worship, brother. What a profound privilege and blessing it is to gather in worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It brings me great sadness to see how many who used to attend worship on a regular basis here in the USA have now neglected it completely…and while we still have the freedom to do so. It brings me great joy to know of churches where the people eagerly anticipate the Lord’s Day so that they can worship together.

By John Nymann

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