“What is worship?” That sounds like a simple enough question, but it is actually rather profound. What we do in worship, in what order, and how we do it are all reflections of what we truly believe about what it means to ‘worship.’ If you are curious about why we worship the way we do at First, our pastor would welcome the opportunity to talk with you further about worship in this community of faith.
Worship is simply giving God the glory due His name (Psalm 29:1-2). Humans are created and redeemed to give praise to God. The congregation of God’s people gathers on the Lord’s Day to worship God, enjoy his blessing and to hear Him speak to us. In worship we read the Bible, sing the Bible, pray the Bible, preach the Bible and see the Bible. The purpose of the church is to put worship in reach of all people. Worship should be simple so that any follower of Christ can participate in all parts of the service in a meaningful way.
Worship is a Dialogue…
Our service is designed to be a dialogue between God and his people. He calls, we respond. He is holy, we praise him! Sinners repent when confronted by a holy God. God’s word is proclaimed, we go out to live for him. From beginning to end, God speaks and we respond.
Our Order of Worship
Here are some thoughts that will answer the question for each element or aspect of worship that we include in our service. These are also helpful for those of you teaching children to participate in worship.
Greeting and Announcements
Before the service of worship begins, the congregation is made aware of opportunities to serve the church or to receive ministry. Special aspects of the worship service may be highlighted in order to help worshippers better understand why we do what we do in worship.
Voluntary for Silent Prayer
We take these moments to ready our heart and mind for worship, remembering that we have entered the Lord’s house on the Lord’s Day to give wholly of ourselves to God.
The word “votum” is Latin for “desire” or “vow.” Liturgically, it refers to the pronouncement/declaration by the minister to the congregation of Psalm 124:8, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” It is a biblical reminder at the start of worship that God is the only help for sinful man. It also serves as a reminder that God’s people should trust God alone as Lord over all of life.
God greets his saints who have gathered to worship. This greeting comes from the scriptures and is pronounced by the minister. Usually, the greeting is Trinitarian in nature, such as is found in Revelation 1:4-5.
Call to Worship
The God of the universe summons his people to worship Him. Worship is a response to the grace of our great God. He is worthy of all worship and desires it from those who have been redeemed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hymn of Adoration
The Scriptures command us to give praise to God. The beginning of worship is focused on the adoration of our triune God. Our first hymn in worship should be reverent and joyful. It should remind us of the Scriptural truths that speak of the greatness of our God.
Prayer of Adoration and Invocation
This prayer leads the congregation in telling God how great He is and how much we adore Him. We also ask that God would be present in our worship, that he would dwell in our midst as we worship and commune with us in a special way.
Affirmation of Faith
All things necessary for living life and understanding God, reality, salvation and Christian duty are given to us in Scriptures. It is right and good for the people of God to profess with their lips what we believe is true.
Hymn of Praise
The redeemed of God give praise to the Redeemer for the redemption accomplished for us! We joyfully celebrate the goodness of God and the life of the church. Most often we sing the ancient Gloria Patri, a hymn affirming the eternal work of the Trinity.
Reading of God’s Word
Our worship service is God-centered and full of Scripture. Paul commands Timothy “to give attention to the public reading of Scripture”. God’s people are to hear, believe and obey the Word of God. When God’s Word is read, God himself is speaking to us.
Confession of Sin and Assurance of Pardon
As a people who continue to sin in this life we become fully aware, especially in the presence of God, of our great guilt and therefore we confess ourselves sinners and look to Christ alone for the ground of our salvation. In worship we do this both privately and corporately. Those truly repentant in faith receive the forgiveness of God.
Hymn of Reflection
When the Word of God reveals to us the greatness of God, the sinfulness of man and the grace of God in Christ, we must think on these matters and sing of them! Sometimes we sing joyfully. At times we may sing mournfully. Often we sing prayerfully, asking God to be at work in our hearts and minds.
When people join the church, they are publicly declaring their allegiance to God through Jesus Christ. Joining the church is also a public declaration of submission to God, the Scriptures, God’s appointed Elders and the congregation as a whole. We covenant to live life together according to God’s Word.
The Sacrament of Baptism
According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.” The Lord’s Supper is for those who have been baptized in the Name of the Triune God, have publicly professed their faith in Christ, and are members of an evangelical church.
Ordination of Officers
The risen and ascended Christ gives gifts to his church by appointing ministers, elders and deacons to do and oversee the work of the church. The act of ordination sets these servants apart to do the work God has appointed for them to do. Christians are commanded to obey their leaders, to follow their lead, to receive God’s Word from them and to let them watch over your soul.
God’s people spend time privately and corporately praying to God for things concerning the needs of the congregation, the mission of the local church, the advance of God’s kingdom and the needs of those supported by the church to fulfill the Great Commission. Prayers are also made for all people, governing authorities, our enemies and those in need of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tithes and Offerings
God asks that His tithes be given for the ongoing worship, work and ministry of the church. Out of the abundance of what God has given to us, above our regular tithes, we also present offerings to God as a sign of gratitude for His gracious actions toward us.
The congregation, choir or a few vocalists offer to God a song of adoration, confession, thanksgiving or petition to God as an act of worship. On occasion, the song may be the singing of God’s Word to remind, edify, exhort or comfort Christians in their faith
Hymn of Praise
The Doxology is simply a “hymn of praise”. In the hymn, we acknowledge the greatness of the triune God and His gracious provision of all things for us. We sing this after we offer God the first fruits of our labors, our financial tithes and offerings.
The Reading & Preaching of God’s Holy Word
The minister of God’s Word reads, explains and applies the Scriptures to the congregation. Our practice is to preach the whole counsel of God. We preach through the Bible, verse by verse and book by book. In the reading and preaching of God’s Word, we believe God himself speaks to his people, convincing, converting, comforting and counseling those who hear by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
In the Lord’s Supper, we are fed by the Lord Jesus Christ in a special way. Christ reminds us of His work of redemption for us – that he obeyed and suffered in our place. He reminds of us of his ongoing work in our lives now. And we are reminded that His promise of full communion with Him in eternity is indeed true. The Lord’s Supper is for those who have trusted in Christ as he is freely offered in the Gospel and have united with his body, the church. If you are not resting in Christ alone for your salvation, please let the bread and cup pass by. Ask God to make himself real to you and consider your need of Christ to forgive your sins.
We serve the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of every month.
Hymn of Response
When God reveals Himself or His commands through the reading and preaching of His Word, a human response is required. After we hear His Word, our minds must consider the truth heard, our hearts must be moved to affection and
our whole beings should be ready to serve our Master. We often sing of these desires at the end of worship.
God speaks to His people and he blesses them! Through the minister, God speaks blessing on His children, that they might go into the world to bless others in the name of Christ.