Throughout church history, there has been a tendency for serious, theologically-minded believers (and we should all want to be serious, theologically-minded believers) to fall into the trap of being overly critical of the way in which other believers approach the adiaphora [difference in Greek] circumstances of worship. More often than not, individuals who are serious about the regulative principle of worship put everything into the categories of “good vs. bad” instead of into what we may consider to be “good, better, and best” practices. Many times, what one considers an essential aspect of the regulative principle of worship is nothing other than a preferential circumstance of worship. Ironically, the same often holds true for those in more seeker-sensitive oriented churches. Many in seeker-sensitive mega-churches insist that their way of carrying out the circumstances of worship is good and that more traditional models are bad.
It will help us to note the three-fold distinction of the regulative principle of worship (RPW) prior to answering any specific questions about our practical preferences. The RPW is built upon the biblical supposition that God wants His people to worship Him in His own prescribed way. We are not free to do whatever we want or whatever we think will be effective in drawing people when we worship. Rather, we are only to worship God according to the binding prescriptive and descriptive aspects of worship in Scripture.
Do You Know the Regulative Principle of Worship
The RPW divides into three categories, when considering the biblical teaching, forms, elements, and circumstances.
Elements of Worship
The elements of worship are those things that should be included in worship whenever appropriate. The elements include such things as a call to worship, the singing of Psalms and hymns, confessions of sin and faith, assurances of pardon, the reading and preaching of God’s word, the administration of the sacraments (i.e., baptism and the Lord’s Supper), giving, vows, thanksgivings, and a benediction. Every biblical element of worship does not need to be included in each and every service; however, they are the essential elements of all true worship.