The Discipline of Public Worship

Lesson 1998
Tags: Worship
Excerpted from “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”: Spiritual Disciplines for Devotional Vitality
Related Resources: Worship: The Church in Relation to God

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col 3.16).


  • There is definitely discipline involved in channeling public worship toward the goal of spiritual intimacy. Public worship can easily become routine, a mere exercise in tradition. It is easy to go through the external motions of praise and worship without engaging in their internal reality. The possibility of a genuine encounter with God in public worship depends largely on the mental and spiritual preparation of each individual Christian. However, it is also dependent on the preparation of those who lead the congregation in worship.
  • There are myriad obstacles to intimacy through public worship. Not the least of these are the inhibition and self-consciousness that we often feel in the presence of a crowd. Also, being around a large group of people offers numerous opportunities for distraction. Further, cultural differences in the church tend to complicate the free conduct of corporate worship.


Ask the audience to participate in the corporate reading of a Christian text (poem, hymn, creed, etc.). Reading should be clear, crisp, properly paced, and paused for effect.

Further Reading

Allen, Ronald, and Gordon Borror. Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel. Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1982.

Duggins, Davis. “The Worship Gap: Is Something Missing in Our Response to God?” Moody Mar. 1996: 19-22.

Foster, Richard J. “The Discipline of Worship.” Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. Rev. ed. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988. 158-174.

Griffith, Frank. “The Role of Singing in the Life and Worship of the Church.” Reformation & Revival Journal 4.4 (1995): 37-60.

Hughes, R. Kent. “Discipline of Worship.” Disciplines of a Godly Man. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991. 105-115.

Keller, Tim. “What It Takes to Worship Well.” Leadership 15.2 (1994): 16-23.

Murren, Doug. “Four Essential Secrets: Principles for Becoming a Successful Worship Leader, Today and For Years to Come.” Worship Leader July 1996: 14+.

Sanders, J. Oswald. “Intimacy Is Nourished by Worship.” Enjoying Intimacy with God. Chicago: Moody, 1980. 21-27.