SAMPLE PDF OF THE WEEKLY WORSHIP GUIDE
You may notice that our worship is different than what many in our culture are used to; it will probably feel foreign and maybe even a bit weird. In order to help address some of the questions and concerns that are bound to arise from worship done this way, we have put together this short explainer on the structure, content, and goals of our service.
WHAT IS WORSHIP?
What are we doing here? Why do we gather for a weekly service? Unfortunately, these questions are all too often neglected by the very people gathered to worship. Before we even begin to answer the question of what worship looks like, we should have a clear picture of why we worship and what happens when we do.
The primary reason we gather for worship is because God has called and commanded us to just that (Heb. 10:25). No person in their natural state would chose to come before God in worship, and so we must be called to worship by God himself. When God has called his people to gather, what happens? What is accomplished when we come together as the church?
There is some debate over whether we come to worship to give to God or to receive from God. The pious answer seems to be that we gather to give to God—to give our praise and service and offerings. But instead we gather primarily as the Bride of Christ to receive from God. We receive His summons to worship, His call to confession and assurance of pardon, we receive His instruction and teaching through the reading and preaching of His Word, we receive the heavenly bread and wine, and finally we receive the benediction of God as we are sent back into the world at the close of the service. We also, of course, are giving back to God—we respond to his mercy in song, praise, and offerings; but the primary direction of worship is from God to man, not man to God. So we come into God presence every week to receive his gifts, to be refreshed, to renew our relationship with Him.
THE LORD'S SERVICE
Given that we are here to receive from God, we have consciously tried to structure our service to reflect that. Using patterns found throughout the Scriptures (from Leviticus to Revelation), the examples of the early church, and our heritage as the church universal, we follow a set pattern each week. That pattern seeks to preach the Gospel to us not only in content but also in structure and form. Our weekly service follows the following pattern:
The Call to Worship
We would not dare to approach the holy, living God if he did not first invite us. And so our worship opens with a call to worship from the Scriptures. We respond with singing as we joyfully answer the call of our gracious God, coming before His presence with praise on our lips. During this time, we also call one another to worship through a responsive reading, encouraging each other to come before God in worship.
Confession and Assurance of Pardon
God has called us into His holy presence, and the very first thing we need to deal with is our sin, calling out for God’s judgment. And so early in the service we kneel before God to offer the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17). After we confess our sins together we are assured that God has promised mercy and forgiveness to His people. Having our sins covered by the sacrifice of Jesus, we are now free to boldly enter into God’s presence and hear his instruction.
At this point in our service we have been called and cleansed by God, and now we ascend into His presence. This ascension is pictured as the Minister calls us to ‘Lift up our hearts,’ to which we respond, ‘We lift them up to the Lord.’ In the joy of coming into God’s presence we respond with joyful praise before settling in to hear the Word of God in the reading and preaching of His word.
After receiving the call, cleansing, and consecration of God we now respond with offering up our works as tribute to God. We here collect the tithes and offerings as well as the sacrifice of prayer (Ps. 141:2).
Coming to the end of the service, God now invites us to sit and share a meal with him. This follows along the pattern of the Old Covenant sacrifices which culminated in the Peace Offering (the only Old Covenant offering in which the worshipper received a portion). We are at peace with God, having been cleansed and instructed by Him, and now we represent that peace around His table – sharing bread and wine together.
Finally, God sends us back into the world—otherwise we would never want to leave His presence! (Compare to the disciplines response to the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:4). We are sent out with a blessing and a commission to go out as servants of God and as a blessing to the world.
Our primary concern is that our worship is faithful to the Bible, pleasing to God, and edifying to the Church. We hope that our Lord’s Day service is meeting all three of those goals by structuring its form according to the patterns found in Scripture, by approaching God on His terms and rightly respecting His holiness, and by providing comfort to the Christian not only in content but in the very form of the service itself.
We are eager to have you worship with us, and if you have any questions please contact an elder or pastor before or after the service. We hope that you will continue to join us weekly as we gather to be blessed by God and offer ourselves back to Him in worship.