Philosophy of Worship
Worship is the ultimate goal of the Great Commission. Our Lord commissioned His followers to go and make disciples of all nations for the purpose of having a greater number of worshipers, and to teach them the spiritual truths He taught for the purpose of having a greater quality of worship offered back to Him.
Worship is the primary reason that believers gather together on the Lord's Day. The assembling of Christians in a sanctuary is not for entertainment, emotional stimulation, or social interaction. Christians gather for the purpose of ascribing "worth" to God and the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the word "worship" comes from this idea of "worth-ship."
Many Christian churches view worship as singing or listening to music as it is performed for them. Singing is one aspect of worship, but it is not the heart of worship. Worship is a definitive mental exercise that Christians engage in throughout the service (which is why it is referred to as a worship service). It is primarily the response of the heart to the truth of the Word of God. As the message of truth is sung, read, and preached, the heart of the Christian is affirming these truths and yielding to them in obedience.
Psalm 96:6-9 is one of the classic Biblical texts on worship. When God's people worship Him, they are "giving" (or ascribing) to Him the glory, honor, strength, and beauty that He deserves. This is why worship is stated to be a "mental exercise." When Christians make statements like, "I did not get anything out of that service," or "The message was boring this morning," they are only revealing their faulty view of worship (or their faulty view of why they have a church service in the first place). No part of a true worship service should seek to entertain man or to focus on the desires of man. If the congregation becomes the focal point of our church services, we would actually be glorifying man instead of God (which we must never do; cf. Isaiah 42:8). Christians do not attend a worship service to receive anything (except instruction). They attend a worship service in order to "give" (ascribe) to God "the glory due unto His name" (Psalm 29:2).
Since worship is a significant part of the life of the church, careful consideration should be given to the planning of a worship service. Prayer, praise, preaching, and the public reading of Scripture are important aspects in lifting our hearts to God. The congregation should want to hear from God (the public reading and preaching of His Word) and respond to God (in prayer and praise). After all, this is what will happen in eternity. "In the ages to come, God is going to show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7).
Finally, it seems wise for a church to incorporate a time (at the beginning of each service) for the congregation to prepare their hearts and minds for this "definitive mental exercise" of worship (Ecc. 5:1-2).