What to Expect
The worship service at Christ Church may seem a little unusual at first. This guide is meant to help you understand how our worship service is structured and why.
Foundational to our understanding is that the Sunday worship service is the appointed time each week when God’s people gather for the purpose of performing their joyful duty of worship. Thus, the primary focus is on leading believers in the worship of the Triune God, not evangelism. This does not mean that we do not welcome non-Christians, or are unconcerned about evangelism; it simply means that reaching unbelievers is not the primary purpose of the worship service itself. In fact, we are more than happy when people who are unconvinced of the claims of the Gospel of Christ are present. It is our great hope that they will hear the gospel, see God’s people worshiping him, hear the songs, the sermon, the creed, and be changed by them so that they, too, can join with God’s people in worshiping him.
We follow an Order of Worship (or liturgy), provided and described below, which reflects our best understanding of what should be included in the worship of God. We believe the worship service should reflect the gospel interaction between God and his people, and a renewal of the covenant that he has entered into with us. The flow and elements point to different aspects of the life of the believer in relation to God and other Christians. In our worship we become one in a highly participatory service in which God’s people worship him in Spirit and in truth.
We hope you find this guide helpful. Come, let us worship the Lord together!
THE LORD CALLS US
Psalm 100:2 tells us to "Come into his presense with singing!" So we begin our worship by entering into his presence with a hymn of adoration. We "enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!"
A brief exhortation to focus our attention on why we are assembled, and to encourage sincere participation in the Service.
There is then a responsive greeting. The pastor and congregation exchange greetings all centered on the exaltation and praise of the Triune God.
Call to Worship
The formal call to worship is reflective of God’s call to mankind generally, and his people specifically, to worship him. God created man to be in relationship with him, and the proper response from man to God is to worship him. Typically from the Psalms, the call goes out for everyone assembled to worship God as Creator, Savior and Lord. The pastor says, “Come, let us worship the Lord together.” The congregation responds, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” signifying agreement that it is right to worship the One who is worthy of our worship.
Collect for Purity
A collect is a kind of prayer, and the Collect for Purity is a prayer that Our Lord would cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, that we might enter into worship rightly.
THE LORD CLEANSES US
Call to Confession
Responding rightly to God’s call means we recognize our inability to worship him purely because sin distorts our worship. God calls us to repent of (to turn from) our sin. A call to repentance goes out from a pastor, reflecting God’s call upon all to forsake sin and turn to him.
Corporate Confession of Sin
Confessing sin is an ongoing part of the Christian life. Confession doesn’t mean “admitting” something, but rather it means to agree with God that sin is a reality in our lives and that we acknowledge its damaging effects on us. This is true of us individually, and as a body (the church is the “body of Christ”). This means that there are corporate sins that we must confess before God and one another. Our individual sins affect ourselves and our church as well. As we confess together, we are corporately and individually forsaking our sin in favor of Christ. We draw near with a humble heart and confess our sins to God, our Father, imploring him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.
Assurance of Pardon
Scripture tells us that “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So having confessed our sins (corporate and individual), we hear the promise of God’s forgiveness. What a joyful thing to hear the promise that God has forgiven us! Now, with joy and humility we are able to rightly come before him with singing!
Gloria in Excelsis
This tenth-century hymn is sung in response to God's mercy in forgiving us, declaring "Glory be to God on high!"
Prayer of Ascension
In this prayer, the pastor leads the congregation into singing by agreeing with God that it is right and beneficial that we should give thanks to God, and acknowledges that we are joining with the company of heaven and with all the church on earth to praise and magnify the Lord.
A Sanctus (a song declaring the holiness of God) is sung, joining with the Seraphim in Isaiah 6, and Revelation 4 who sing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord."
THE LORD CONCECRATES US
Confession of a Creed
The confession of one of the major creeds of the faith is recited as a corporate affirmation of the central tenets of Christianity. These are usually the Apostles' Creed, or the Nicene Creed.
The public reading of Scripture – Old and New Testaments – is a vital part of the worship and life of the church. From the Scripture we hear from God himself. The Old Testament is a rich record of God’s redemptive work in and through his people pointing to the coming Christ. In light of the new life we have in Christ, we are encouraged and instructed from the reading of a passage from the New Testament. A Gospel Lesson is also read each week by the minister as he walks among the congregation.
The Word Preached
The preaching of the Word is central to Christian worship. The proclamation of the gospel message and its implications is the God-ordained means of correcting and exhorting his people in the ways of godliness.
During this prayer, the pastor prays for and on behalf of the congregation as we make known our petitions to God for the needs of the congregation and her mission, our leaders, our nation and the world. The congregation participates in the prayer by responding to the minister's plea, "Father, hear our prayer," with, "For You are gracious." This prayer concludes with the congregation saying the Lord's Prayer together.
Tithes and Offerings
We respond to God's blessings to us by bringing gifts of tithes and offerings.
THE LORD COMMUNES WITH US
Communion (The Lord’s Supper)
Celebrated each Lord’s Day, this ceremonial meal is the invitation for believers as the body of Christ to enjoy table fellowship with the King of kings. In this meal we remember Christ’s death, celebrate the life we now have together in him, and anticipate the future marriage supper of the Lamb. As we pass the elements, we "Pass the Peace" to one another, blessing and being blessed as we give and receive the bread and the wine.
Standing with hands raised, we sing a song of praise and thanks to God, who is the source of all blessings.
The congregation then joins in a prayer giving thanks to god for all his blessings through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hymn of Response
This final hymn is sung in response to all that has taken place in the worship service. This is usually a bold hymn of confidence in our King, singing his praise and honoring his name.
THE LORD COMMISSIONS US
A final charge is given to the congregation to be faithful in pursuit of Christ's charge to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the triune name, and teaching them to observe all of Christ's commands.
In this prayer we voice our gratitude for all God has done for us in his Son, including the fellowship meal we share weekly after the worship service.
A blessing, or good word, is spoken from Scripture to impart a blessing on those present as we depart from the worship service.
The congregation concludes by singing the Gloria Patri, a rich song ascribing glory to God, the triune, eternal and sovereign Lord of all.
The Lord’s Day is a feast day! Each week (with the exception of the first Sunday of each month) we all bring food to share in a fellowship meal. In this meal we seek to cultivate and express the fellowship we have in Christ in a simple yet meaningful way. Guests are eagerly invited to stay and enjoy this meal with us!