(Over the next few weeks, our pastor will write a series of posts about our Core Convictions as a church body. We hope these encourage you and remind you of who we believed Christ has called us to be)
So this a Grace worship guide. It lays out the order of worship for our body. It lays out the passages we read and hear, the prayers we pray, the testimonies we celebrate, the sermons we preach, the songs we sing, the confessions we confess, the hope of the gospel we are assured of, the benedictions we are blessed with as we go, and all the other things we do together.
We’ve gathered to do some combination of the above, 71 times.
A big part of my role is to work with others to order, form, and shape our worship gathering every week. It’s a tremendous joy and privilege to work on this every week. The pastoral task is overwhelming. It’s makes me tremble to know that particular souls are being shaped by what is chosen for our worship. In many ways, we desire for our times of gathered worship to be normal, steady, faithful reminders of the good news of Jesus.
We take the long view and believe, in advance, in their cumulative effect over the decades that are to come. A pastor we admire captures it this way, “It won’t be one church service that will change your life. It will be a lifetime of church services that will change your life. Singing the same songs, reading the same Scripture, hearing the same gospel, over and over again, are used by the Spirit of God to shape and fashion your heart toward him, to cultivate your loves, and to make your more like Jesus.”
This is why gathering each week is essential to the life of a Christian and to the health of a body. We need Christ to renew us, each week, and there simply is no substitute for our physical presence with each other every week.
Our worship is built around this Core Conviction: The Word Does the Work.
We believe the Holy Spirit travels alongside God’s word to form, create, and shape Christ’s church. In the truest sense, the church is a “creature of the Word.”
Our gathered worship is word-centered: reading, hearing, reciting, responding to the word (our Opening Scripture and Prayer, times of confession and assurance), singing the truths of the word (our songs/hymns), declaring the glory of the person of the Word-Made-Flesh, Jesus Christ, and the work he has done for us (the sermon), hearing how the gospel has shaped a soul (times of testimony), remembering, celebrating, tasting, touching, and seeing the hope we have in him (the Table), and being sent out by the risen and ascended Christ as witnesses (times of prayer, commissioning, benediction).
And then again next week.