Our Worship Policy


Worship Policy Document – Sovereign Grace Bible Church (SGBC)



According to Romans 12:1, worship is the believer's logical response to the great mercy of God. Living a life each day that is dedicated to God is a "spiritual act of worship".

Corporate worship in the services of the local church is but one aspect of worship. We live in a day of significant tension in the church in the area of corporate worship. Differences in the understanding of the Bible's teaching on worship and differences in personal taste are causing discontent and division in many local churches.

The purpose of this document is to set forth clearly and simply our understanding of what the Scriptures declare to be acceptable corporate worship, and to seek to define how that teaching can be applied practically in the SGBC context for God's glory and for the sake of unity in the church.

Theology of Worship

Everything we do in the area of worship must be regulated by the Word of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Word of God, not human opinion or current convention, must be our rule. John Calvin wrote: "We may not adopt any device [in our worship] which seems fit to ourselves, but look to the injunctions of him who alone is entitled to prescribe. Therefore, if we should have him approve our worship, this rule, which he everywhere enforces with utmost strictness, must be carefully observed ... God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by his Word."

The Purposes of Worship

The Exaltation of God

The focus of worship is to be God himself, not the worshiper. Jesus said, "A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" (John 4:23). When believers gather together to worship the Triune God they are to focus on his Person and works and exalt and glorify him.

The Edification of Believers

Scripture tells us that the purpose of spiritual gifts is for the edification of the whole church (Eph. 4:12, 1 Cor. 14:12). Therefore, all ministry in the context of the church, including the worship services of the church, should somehow be edifying - building up the flock, not just stirring emotions. Colossians 3:16 clearly indicates that music in the church is to play a part in edifying (teaching and admonishing) believers. "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms {and} hymns {and} spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (NASB)

The Evangelization of Unbelievers

While the primary purposes of the worship service are the exaltation of God and the edification of believers, the truth of God clearly communicated and the presence of God genuinely recognized can lead to the conviction and conversion of unbelievers present in the service. Paul wrote, "But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, 'God is really among you!' " (1 Cor. 14:24-25)

The Components of Worship

The Preaching of the Word of God

P.D. Manson wrote, "In order to truly worship, two fundamental elements are needed: revelation, through which God shows himself to man, and response, through which awe-stricken man responds to God"
Many people see preaching and worship as two distinct aspects of the church service, as if preaching has nothing to do with worship and visa versa. But this is an erroneous concept. The ministry of the Word is the platform on which all genuine worship must be built. John Stott says it well: "Word and worship belong indissolubly together. All worship is an intelligent and loving response to the revelation of God, the Lord, and worship is praising the Name of the Lord made known. Far from being an alien intrusion into worship, the reading and preaching of the Word are actually indispensable to it. The two cannot be divorced".
The many commands in the Pastoral letters to preach and teach the Word of God (e.g. 1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2) clearly indicate that the ministry of the word is at the heart of pastoral responsibility.

The Reading of the Word of God

For the same reasons as stated above "the public reading of Scripture" (1 Tim. 4:13) is a vital and important component of worship. See also Neh.8:1-18; Luke 4:16; Acts 13:14-16; Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:27.

The Singing of Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs

In both testaments there is abundant evidence that the singing of songs that exalted God and taught and admonished his people (Col. 3:16) played a major part in corporate worship.
By singing songs of worship God's people are reminding themselves of the truth that God has revealed concerning himself. They are responding to that truth. It is therefore of paramount importance that the words sung in worship be intelligible (able to be clearly heard) and accurate (in accord with sound doctrine). The music must always serve the message. Any style of music which obscures the message must be deemed inappropriate.


In the Scriptures prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, confession and intercession formed a vital part of the corporate worship experience, and have done so throughout the history of the church (e.g. Acts 2:42; 4:23-31; 12:5).



It seems that in the early church believers were encouraged to give as an act of worship to God when they met together. "On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income ..." (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8:1-9 :15). Giving is an act of worship and service, an appropriate response to God's "indescribable gift" (2 Cor.9:15).

The Principles of Worship

The Principle of Intellect and Emotions

The Father is seeking worshipers who will "worship ... in spirit and truth" (John 4:23). Worship should engage the intellect as well as the emotions. Worship should be passionate, sincere, and moving. But the point is not to stir up the emotions while turning off the mind. True worship merges heart and mind in a response of pure adoration, based on the truth revealed in the Word.

John MacArthur wrote "Music may sometimes move us by the sheer beauty of its sound, but such sentiment is not worship. Music by itself, apart from the truth contained in the lyrics, is not even a legitimate springboard for real worship. Genuine worship is a response to divine truth. It is passionate because it arises out of our love for God. But to be true worship it must also arise out of a correct understanding of his law, his righteousness, his mercy, and his being. Real worship acknowledges God as he has revealed himself in his Word. We know from Scripture, for example, that he is the only perfectly holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent source from which flows all goodness, mercy, truth, wisdom, power, and salvation. Worship means ascribing glory to him because of those truths. It means adoring him for who he is, for what he has done, and what he has promised. It must, therefore, be a response to the truth that he has revealed about himself. Such worship cannot rise out of a vacuum. It is prompted and vitalised by the objective truth of the Word."

Aroused passions are not necessarily evidence that true worsip is taking place, but when God is truly at work in people's lives there may well be aroused passions. Feelings of awe, wonder, fear, joy, gladness, and delight may be experienced according to the aspect of God's truth that is impressed by the Spirit on the heart and mind of the worshipper. Any attempt to artificially induce feelings apart from truth is unacceptable and detrimental. And any attempt to squelch genuine feelings because of a fear of emotionalism is equally to be deplored.

The Principle of Order

Paul concludes his teaching on how believers are to conduct themselves when they gather together for worship with this directive: "But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way" (1 Cor. 14:40). The reason why there must be order in worship is rooted in the very character of God himself - "God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Cor. 14:33). Where God is in control and when God is being honoured his character will be reflected. There will be both "order" and "peace".

While requiring order in worship, it is important that we understand what order is not. First, order is not lifelessness. There is order in a cemetery and in a museum, but it is the order of death, not life. Second, order is not ritualism. It is not following the same ritual week after week, or even sticking inflexibly to the order prepared for a given service. Changes may be made in a service in response to a practical need or the Spirit's prompting. Third, order is not emotionlessness. As we have already observed, emotionalism is both wrong and dangerous. But emotion is altogether appropriate and need not be incompatible with the principle of order. It needs to be recognised, however, that it is not always appropriate to express emotions even though they may be legitimate.

On the positive side, what is order in worship? First, order is God in control of his people. When God, who "is not the God of disorder but of peace," is in control of his people there will be both order and peace. God controls his people by means of his Word and his Spirit. When believers at worship are acting in submission to the principles of Scripture and are controlled by (filled with) the Spirit, there will be order and peace. It needs to be remembered that God's Word and God's Spirit are always in accord. The Spirit will never lead in a way that is contrary to the principles laid down in the Word.

Second, order is people in control of themselves. In 1 Cor. 14:32 Paul reminds us that "the spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets." God's Spirit seldom overrides the will of an individual. Therefore, worshippers are responsible for the way they behave at worship.
Third, order is people thinking for themselves. Whenever believers gather for worship each one is responsible to "weigh carefully what is said" (1 Cor. 14:29), to "test everything" and "hold on to the good" (1 Thess. 5:21).
Fourth, order is people being sensitive to one another. In 1 Cor. 14:27-32), one gets the clear impression that in an orderly atmosphere believers are sensitive to one another. They wait their turn, they work together, they give opportunity to others, they speak or remain silent with the good of others in mind.

Order in worship services is essential if edification is to occur (1 Cor. 14:26,31). In an atmosphere of disorder believers will not be "strengthened," "instructed", and "encouraged".

The Principle of Reverence

Hebrews 12:28 says, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." The reason for this requirement is given in the next verse - "for our 'God is a consuming fire.' "
Because of who God is, there is no place in worship services for a frivolous, shallow, giddy atmosphere. Play-acting and showmanship are out of order. Worship services are never to become a circus in which the entertainment of the crowd is the objective.
This does not mean that services are to be joyless and sombre, or that there is no place for humour and laughter. Scripture exhorts us to "worship the LORD with gladness and come before him with joyful songs: (Psalm 100:2). Gladness and reverence are not incompatible.

The Principle of Excellence

The priests in Malachi's day were accused of showing dishonor, disrespect, and contempt for God's Name by offering blind, crippled, and diseased animals upon this altar. The Lord said, "When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you? (Mal. 1:8). David's commitment is worthy of emulation by every worshiper. He vowed, "I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing" (2 Sam. 24:24).

Those involved in all aspects of the worship service must strive for excellence. We must not offer to God that which we could be ashamed to offer our boss. This altogether rules out slipshod, slapdash, shoddy, last-minute preparation.

Worship Culture


SGBC Worship Culture

In an attempt to define the SGBC worship culture we need to identify the things we always do, the things we never do, and the things we usually do in our worship services.

We always...

Include the preaching of the Word of God, allowing adequate time for it.
Include the public reading of the Scriptures.
Give prayer a prominent place.
Seek to maintain an overall balance between the best of the older and the best of the newer music (hymns).
Place importance on the theological accuracy of the songs chosen.
Aim for an atmosphere that is both reverent and relaxed.
Prepare each aspect of the service, striving for excellence in all we do.
Accord to the Pastor or preacher the right to make any changes to the planned order of service he deems fit, even at the last minute. Make announcements in the body of a worship service because we believe it to be important to the life of the family of God.

We never...


Teach more than one new song in a service because people have difficulty worshiping when they are in learning mode.
Coerce people to clap, raise their hands, or engage in other activities which would make some people feel uncomfortable.
Chastise the congregation for not singing loudly enough or for not shouting Amen/Hallelua during service.
Encourage people to do a “sermon assist” whereby they shout ‘yes, tell them preacher, oh yes’ during service
Attempt to manipulate people emotionally.
Allow a person to get up and address the congregation without prior knowledge of what they wish to say and without first clearing it with the Pastor or, if he is not present, one of the other pastors or elders (planned testimony times are the exception).
Allow any public announcement before authorized by Pastor or Elders.


We usually...


Place our prayer of adoration and thanksgiving in the beginning part of the service
Receive the offering just before the preaching of the day.
Do not encourage applauding participants in the service for their ministry because that can foster a culture of entertainment and detract from the glory that belongs to God alone.


Worship Style


Music Style

What style of music is appropriate for use in worship at SGBC? Because the Father wants his people to "worship ... in spirit and truth," (John 4:23) "any style that is not able to carry texts whose presence is demanded biblically is an inappropriate style for Christian worship" (Dr. Leonard Payton). The style of the music must carry, not obscure, the truth.
In addition, the style of music used must be suitable for congregational singing (of course, the congregation may need to put in the time and effort to learn the song). It must be recognized that certain styles of song are more suited to soloists and small groups than to congregational use.
It is a fact that different sectors of the congregation will prefer one style over against another. This underscores the need for balance in the selection of music by service leaders and attitude loving tolerance on the part of worship leaders and all member of the congregation.
Service-leadership Style
Because of their gifts some men will be better worship leaders than others, and each will be appreciated more by certain people in the congregation than by others. It is understood that leaders will feel more comfortable with and will naturally lean toward the style of music that most naturally accords with their character. However, each leader should nonetheless strive to present the balance that the SGBC worship culture demands.
"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under His care." (Psalm 95: 6-7)

Dress Code Theology

We always …

Encourage reasonable and respectful dressing during our worship service and in all church functions were the worship and adoration of God would take place.
Encourage adults, both male and female to lead by example in all aspects of Christian integrity.


We never …

Turn away any person (visitors) because of improper dressing unless is in terms of exotic wear whereby respectful parts of the body are visible and may arose attention to the individual, even lustfulness to other.


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