Five ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS to have for a CHURCH WORSHIP: “How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” (1 Cor. 14:26)
The above scriptural passage is the conclusion of a narrative that Apostle Paul had written to the church in Corinth on the subject of bringing order during worship services when the believers congregate together. The one and only reason that we, as believers, gather together in a church should be to worship and glorify God. How can we do that? We can worship God through various ways including praying, singing, praising God, giving tithes and offerings, teaching and preaching God’s Word (v. 3). Ultimately, our worship should result in God receiving the glory, the saints of God being blessed (v. 3), and sinners being convicted of their wrongdoings (vv. 23–25).
However, for all the above things to happen, Jesus Christ must be the Lord of our lives, and we must yield completely to the Holy Spirit. We must go to a worship service just for two reasons: (1) to honor and glorify God who has done so much for us, and (2) to bless other believers through our presence, words of affirmation and heartfelt worship. A key word in the entire passage is ‘edification’ (vv. 3–5, 12, 17, 26), which means ‘building up’. Our worship should lift up our Lord Jesus Christ and build up the saints of God who are worshipping with us.
One of the key things to understand regarding God’s dealing with humans in the New Testament era is that He deals with the entire body life of the church as a united entity and not with just independent believers. Today God intends to accomplish His purposes in this world through the church. There is no such thing as an independent church or an independent believer! Every local congregation is a part of the universal church of God, the bride of Christ. Every individual ministry should radiate out only through the church, and should enable unbelievers to finally assimilate with the local church through the working of the gospel and the Holy Spirit. God deals with the church as a body and with individuals as parts or members. This is the reason why individual members should put the body’s or congregation’s concerns above their own.
Keeping this in context, we should now be able to interpret what Apostle Paul speaks regarding the essential elements that are required for a worship service. Paul made all these explanations because the Corinthians’ public worship practices not only failed to be edifying and convicting, but they also involved disorderly conduct. In order to regulate the worship services, Paul made some rules that include the following: messages through tongues must be limited and orderly, tongues must be regulated by interpretation, prophecy must be discerned and evaluated, and everything must be done for edification, decently and in order (vv. 26–40). Every ministry must ultimately glorify God and build His people through edification resulting in spiritual growth.
If every believer brings to the worship service the special ability that God has given him or her, and if everything is done for edification, the church as a whole will benefit. Apostle Paul has listed five essential elements to have for a church service:
- Psalm: This probably refers to the singing of an Old Testament hymn (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). It is extemporary and inspired by the Holy Spirit, as that of Mary, Zechariah, Simeon, and Anna (Luke 1:46-55, 67-79; 2:34-38).
- Teaching: In the early church, this most likely consisted of presenting an Old Testament truth or, the truths that the Lord Jesus Christ had commanded (Matt. 28:20) or, the doctrines that the apostles had endorsed for the church (Acts 15:22-32).
- Tongue: This is the supernatural ability to speak in a language (tongue) unknown to the speaker after he/she is baptized by the Holy Spirit. Essentially, this is speaking about the wonderful works of God in an unknown language (Acts 2:11). Those speaking in such a new language are encouraged and comforted, despite not understanding the message.
- Revelation: This is a message that a believer receives directly from God for the body of believers. This may also be a prophet who speaks God’s Word through an insight from the Holy Spirit (vv. 29–32).
- Interpretation: This gift is the supernatural enablement to express in an intelligible language an utterance spoken in an unknown tongue. This is not learned but imparted only by the Holy Spirit (v. 13).