Theology of Worship

At all times every person is worshiping. They are pouring out their energies towards some end, some purpose, or some god. Christian worship is worship redeemed to its original direction. Through Jesus Christ, we are redeemed from sin, that is, from false worship, and receive a stream of life-giving grace resulting in a lasting and increasing outpouring of self to the Triune God. This is authentic worship.* The theme of worship in the Bible paints a picture of an outpouring of every dimension of self and in every sphere of life.
In the Old Testament, the temple, based on the tabernacle, was to represent the dwelling place of God and the access point at which true worship to the God of Heaven took place. (1 Ki. 8:13; 9:3) It was deeply longed for by temple servants of Israel calling it a lovely place where the "heart and flesh sings for joy to the living God.” (Ps. 84:1,2)
In the New Testament, Jesus took on the role of the Great High Priest by offering himself as a perfect sacrifice, atoning for the sins of his people. This act of love allows free access, though faith, into God's presence. (Heb. 9:11-14) Jesus fulfilled the temple purpose by becoming the new access point by which people of all kinds, through faith, could come and worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth. (Jn. 1:1-18; 2:19-22; 4:20-24) He also sent his Spirit to illuminate his people and enable them to worship in this new way. (Phil. 3:3) Now God is building a temple out of his redeemed people with Christ as the cornerstone until it is consummated in the New Jerusalem. (1 Pet. 2:4-6a; Rev. 19:6-8; 21:22-27)
A particular place or style of worship is not what makes Christian worship authentic. Neither can any person worship God perfectly without flaw. Authentic Christian worship is always in Christ, who has become our righteousness (perfect worship). It is practiced in steady, unwavering faith based upon the the truth of Christ and hope in what is to come. Since it is in Christ, it is characterized by self-sacrificing servant-like love toward God and toward others, especially toward our family in Christ. (Heb. 10:19-25) It is also purity seeking since God is Holy.
The Apostle Paul often describes principles of building or edifying rather than using terms for worship to describe the intent of Christian gatherings and what goes on in them. As already mentioned, God is building his temple. But not only are we, believers in Christ, the building blocks, we are also being used as builders. We are all being used in various ways to construct a place of worship. (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 14:3,4,5,12,17,26; 1 Thes. 5:11)
The habitual gathering of God's people is encouraged by the writer of Hebrews, assumed in the writings of Paul, and observed in the habits of Jesus. Gathering is a natural occurrence of those who share their identity in Christ. We come together to celebrate Christ. Christ assures us of his presence when we gather in unity. (Mt. 18:20; Lk. 21:37; Col. 3:16; Heb. 10:25)
The Word of the Lord is central in Old Testament gatherings such as at Mt. Sinai or when Ezra reads to the Levites in Jerusalem. It remains true in New Testament assemblies. The Holy Spirit illumines the Word as it is proclaimed through a variety of verbal ministries such as preaching, teaching, singing and exhorting. In this, we see that God intends for congregations to engage with Him by the Holy Spirit through his Word.
At communion, an intimate place of corporate worship mandated by Christ, we are to look back to his death and resurrection and forward to when all the nations will gather to feast at His table.  
With the premise that Christians are to be steady authentic worshipers all the time, we understand that the Sunday gathering is not where we start and stop worship. It is rather where we as constant worshipers come to worship in a single time and place. There is freedom when it comes to the particulars of a plan of worship or liturgy. But as we are sensitive to the Spirit’s leading, we are intentional about the sequence and function of various elements of worship (e.g., celebration in gathering, thematic praise as preparation for the Word, revelation leading to response). A dialogue emerges between God and His people. From start to end, the Spirit leads us as we pour ourselves out in surrender, in celebration, in praise, in meditating, in listening, in thanksgiving, and in resolving. All this outpouring finds its source in God. It is God who is to be magnified, not our acts of worship or creativity. Though it is important to strive for musical excellence and creativity, powerful artistic expression is not what brings value or substance to our faith nor is it what makes our worship acceptable to God. Our worship comes through faith in the truth and reality of Christ. Our worship gatherings ought to thrust us out on a mission to draw neighbors and nations into the same worship.
* I first heard worship explained this way by Harold Best in his book Unceasing Worship.  He builds a strong biblical case based on our original purpose as image bearers of the triune God.  Though worship is reserved for God alone, the perpetual loving exchange between God and his imago dei mimics the fellowship flowing constantly between the Persons of the Godhead.  Christ confirmed this intent in his High Priestly prayer in John 17.
† This is true, though there are several terms for worship used to describe certain acts or postures:  Dt. 18:5; Josh. 24:14; Ps. 95:6-7; Acts 13:2; Ro. 12:1; Rev. 5:14
§ In his book Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship, David Peterson traces these important themes of worship from Genesis to Revelation.  His comprehensive study on biblical worship and its relevance for today’s church has been helpful in forming this summery.