Come Worship With Us!
"Let us contemplate how to encourage one another to love and good works, not forsaking their assembly as is the practice of some, but encouraging one another — especially as you see the Day drawing near."
For the Christian, worship is a way of life, not something that is just done on Sundays. At the same time, when the body of Christ gathers together for worship, it is a special time. It is a time for encouraging and challenging one another, praying together, sitting under the teaching of the Scriptures, and, when appropriate, participation in the two sacraments of the Lord's Table and Baptism. These are ordinary ways in which God nurtures us in his grace to grow us in faith and Christian maturity.
Singing is also always a part of the worship of God's people. In fact Paul instructs us to come together singing Psalms, Hymns, and Odes (short spiritual songs -- see Colossians 3:16). Thus we seek to incorporate each of these elements into our public worship. Typically we begin our worship by singing two contemporary praise songs. Then, during the service we will usually sing two traditional hymns and then we close with one more hymn after the benediction. Occasionally we will choose to sing a Psalm in place of one of the hymns as we worship our God. Singing is one of the most natural things that we do as humans even from our youngest days. Even as adults, most of us sing to pass the time if only in the shower or while driving the car to work. We need not be skilled or trained in singing to enjoy this wonderful gift that God has given us and so all are encouraged to sing for the joy it will bring us and the pleasure it brings to God. We are told there will be "a new song" in heaven even, so the Christian will be singing throughout eternity; we might as well start practicing now.
For those of you who might not have grown up in a church or may not have attended church in a while, you may find some things in our order of service new to you. That is okay, we believe the flow of the service is designed to flow in an orderly way and the bulletin will provide you with a map so you won't get lost.
The first thing that you will notice is that we begin with announcements. These are not actually a part of the service, but are important pieces of information in the life of the church of which the congregation should be aware. They are also read by one of our Elders. Elders are officers of the Church Council that are charged with overseeing the life of the church. In our congregation, there will be two Elders actively serving at any given time. Sometimes paired with the announcements will be what we call a "Covenant Connection." These are typically ministries of the church or missionaries that our congregation supports who are sharing with us the work that God has been doing through them. These provide a good chance to get to know the things that are going on in the church's life and those ministers throughout the world we support.
The next thing that you will notice are the words, "Christ Our King." As you scan the bulletin, you will find that the order of service is divided around three themes: Christ as our King, Christ as our Prophet, and Christ as our High Priest. As our King, Jesus rules over our lives, so the first part of the service largely revolves around God's demands upon us to obey his Word and to Honor Christ as King. As our Priest, Jesus speaks God's word authoritatively to us. Here you will find a sermon that is designed to explain a given text of scripture. As a church in the Reformed tradition, the preaching of the Word is the single-most important part of our worship and thus approximately half of our service is dedicated to the word preached. Finally, as our High Priest, Jesus is our sacrifice, intercessor, and mediator. As ones who have such a great High Priest, we use this portion of the service as our time to recommit ourselves to living a life of Gratitude toward Him.
You will find that the Scriptures also play a very prominent role in the service. On any given Sunday there will be 7 passages of Scripture read to guide our worship. The first reading is meant to call us to an attitude of worship. The second reading of scripture is entitled, "Reminder of the Way of Salvation." This is a passage that gives us specific instructions as to how we are to live as Christians, and like the announcements, this passage is read by an Elder as the Elders are overseers of the life of the Congregation. There is a Scripture reading that is part of the prayer of invocation, a prayer that asks God to guide our worship. There is also a passage of scripture read before the offering is taken as a reminder that all good things belong to God and that as Christians we are called to be a generous people. The "Resurrection Words of Admonition" are words of Christ that typically challenge us to not get complacent about our sin and these words are read before the Pastor's prayer, a prayer which includes a prayer of confession of sin on behalf of the congregation as a whole. There is also a passage that will be explained in the sermon. Typically our practice is to work through books of the Bible or large sections to gain a better understanding of God's Word. And finally, there is the scripture of benediction. "Benediction" is simply a traditional Latin word that means, "Good Words," and it exists as a final blessing on the people as we prepare to conclude our time of public worship.
Five times a year we also celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. As is explained, this sacrament is restricted to those people who are born-again believers in Jesus Christ and who have repented of their sins and are not harboring sins that have not been confessed before God. This is not meant to be harsh to those who are visitors, but we "fence" the table like this in obedience to the scriptures, for while the sacrament is a blessing to the faith of the believer, it is a cup of judgment to the unbeliever or unrepentant.
That may seem like a lot all at once, but don't let it scare you. Instead, recognize that everything we do when we gather for worship has been thought through and is very intentional. So, come join us, we believe that you will find our fellowship friendly and the teaching committed to the Word of God. And if you have questions about the service or about the sermon, make a point of hanging out and asking our pastor. He is intentional about being accessible both before and after the service and enjoys fielding questions.