Worship is our highest calling and greatest delight. All of our purposes flow out of our weekly gathering which sustains us, renews our joy, and equips us to receive and give the life and love of God. We have this opportunity to worship together at our Sunday morning worship service at 9:30 am.
Understanding the order of “events” for a Sunday morning worship service can help you focus, learn, and be changed as you worship. The overall structure of our worship service supports the emphases of the church historically on the Word and Table, through which God’s covenant salvation is gracioiusly proclaimed, received, and renewed. These two primary acts are supported through prayer and music and structured in a traditional four-part movement which itself helps the community of faith respond collectively and participate with God in worship:
Gathering • Ministry of the Word • Ministry of the Table • Dismissal
The Gathering, or call to worship, begins with a musical prelude and typically ends with a greeting. The purpose of the gathering is to be welcomed into the presence of God. The prelude (which begins 5 minutes before the Call to Worship) is designed to help each person focus and join in meeting the Lord. The Call to Worship proclaims that we gather in the presence of the Triune God, called by the Father, united by the Holy Spirit, in the salvation graciously provided through Jesus Christ. The theme of the service is introduced through selected readings from God’s Word. Our appropriate response to God’s presence, Word, and in prayer is humility reflected in posture and corporate confession of sin. The assurance of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ frees our hearts to receive graciously from God and serve together in the rest of the service in prayer, song, and response.
The Ministry of the Word is where God speaks to us through His Word as we attentively listen. This follows naturally from coming before Him in the Gathering. Activities included in the Ministry of the Word are scripture readings, scripture songs, a sermon, prayers, and offering. The events immediately after the sermon and before the Lord’s Table are our responses to God’s Word to us. Our offering is part of our thanks to God for His gracious movement towards us in the service and in our lives. A variety of prayers also capture our wills in renewed dependence upon God (i.e. pastoral prayer, open prayer, monthly prayer with the elders, silent prayer, etc.) Sometimes our response to God’s Word during the collection of the offering also doubles as an introduction or preparation for the Lord’s Table.
The Ministry of the Table is where our Lord “feeds” us. It is a rich time of fellowship with Him as we remember what Christ has accomplished for us and what He supernaturally strengthens us to be and do. The Ministry of the Table is supported through exhortation, prayers of thanksgiving, musical reflection, and distribution and partaking of the elements.
The Dismissal, or benediction, is the shortest part of the service. In this part of the service we are reminded that we have met with the Lord and He with us. He has spoken and nourished us. We are now strengthened and prepared to go out and serve Him. The dismissal includes singing, greeting, prayer, and a benediction.