Why Coram Deo?

On Sunday, we are kicking off a series at Green Hills Church concerning the grave need to reclaim the worship of God in our lives. We are naming this series “Coram Deo.” You might be wondering why we would title a sermon series with a Latin phrase in 2017 since Green Hills Church is an urban, multi-ethnic church in Nashville Tennessee. Latin phrases are not the heart language of our demographic.

What is Coram Deo?

The reason we selected “Coram Deo” is because this term carries an ancient truth on worship that we want to champion at Green Hills. Coram Deo is a term that emerged from the Protestant Reformation and it means “in the presence of God” The Latin word CORAM is derived from the Latin cora, which means “the pupil of the eye.” It is translated “in person,” “face-to-face,” “in one’s presence,” “before one’s eyes,” “in the presence of,” or “before.” DEO, the second word in the phrase, is the Latin word for God.

Taken literally, this phrase refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. But the animating idea behind Coram Deo, however, is fundamental to understanding how to follow Jesus.  R.C. Sproul says, “The big idea of the Christian life is Coram DeoCoram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life. To live Coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.” Christians should desire to live for the glory of God in everything they do and to live to please God. In the face of a culture marked by ritual and cold religion, the reformers began to use this term to call their people to move beyond religious rote activity and instead to worship God with passion.

Reforming Our Desires

This desire to give glory to God is most realized when God’s people gather together to worship Jesus in corporate worship. Singing praises to God is a distilled expression of Coram Deo. God’s people ought to revel in singing the praises of their God.  King David encapsulates the longing of the Christian heart to worship God in Psalm 84 saying, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. (Psalm 84:1-2 ESV)” David models a deep desire for the presence of God in his life. He was not satisfied to simply go through the motions of religion. He wanted something deeper. He wanted intimacy with God – to know God and to declare how awesome God really was.

It is my hope that people of Green Hills church would feel this same passion for the worship of God. That we would move beyond simply “doing church” to worshiping God and longing for his presence. Our desire to our people transformed by the consuming presence of Jesus in their lives. We long to see them become even more committed to his cause and his glory.

Personally, what I have found in close to 20 years of being a Christian is there is always a war in my heart over what I will worship. Everything in culture seeks to woo me to worship the creation rather than the creator. And I must regularly call my heart to love God because I have propensity to worship idols instead of the lover of my soul. One of the most powerful tools to combat my sinful nature is corporate worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Over the course of the next five weeks we are going to be studying how to enter into the worship of God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Moving Forward

Our hope is that through this sermon series that everyone in our church would fall deeper in love with Jesus. As we study the scriptures, I am excited to see the people of Green Hills become radical worshippers of Jesus because of who he is and what he has done.

If you want to be a part of what God is doing at Green Hills, I invite you to join me at 9 or 11am from March 19 – April 16th at 101 Bowling Ave in Nashville TN.


Written by Mike Harder

Mike was born and raised as a missionary kid in Bogota, Colombia. After moving to the states, Mike attended Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minn., and graduated with a B.A. in Church Ministry. He then moved to Memphis and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Mike and his wife, Tabitha, and their two daughters, Abigail and Violet, live in Brentwood, Tenn. He has written two studies for LifeWay: In Transit: What Do You Do with Your Wait? and Jaded. His passions are coffee, friendships and basketball.