The Worship Service

Worshipscript2Worship at Grace is designed to declare the worth of the One who is worshipped and thus draw us to Him. This is appropriate since the English word “worship” actually emerged from an older form, worthship. This reminds us that the act of worship is to declare the worth of the one who is being worshipped.¹  Everything we do in our worship service is to further this end.

 

 

 

Sunday Worship: 9:00 am
Fellowship: After worship, in the parlor (adjacent to sanctuary)
Childcare: Provided for children age 3 and under
Children age 4-6 (through first grade): Invited to “The Sermon for Kids” during the sermon

 

Isaiah 6: 1-8 provides a pattern for worship that illustrates this “worthship principle.”²   In this passage, we see the prophet Isaiah having an amazing encounter with the living God. First, God’s character is revealed to Isaiah: God is high, lifted up, and holy, holy, holy. How does one respond when confronted with a God like this? Isaiah responded with: “Woe is me, I am ruined!” Isaiah, appropriately, recognized a vast distance between himself and God. But then God graciously revealed more of Himself to Isaiah; that He is the loving and merciful One. He did this by explaining the role of atonement to Isaiah. Again, Isaiah responded, this time by humbly receiving God’s grace and believing God’s Word. Then the Lord asked, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Isaiah faithfully responded: “Here am I; send me!”

While Isaiah’s experience is an example of one man’s response to the Word of God (which was delivered personally to him), it also provides a pattern for worship that many have used, sometimes referred to as the “gospel-shaped order of worship.”  It is the pattern we use at Grace. First, like Isaiah, we are reminded of God’s awesome and holy character which moves us to praise God and, like Isaiah, humbly confess our unworthiness because of our sin. Next, we are reminded of how God has intervened on our behalf, by sending his Son to be an atoning sacrifice for us. We humbly receive and believe this good news  which is the unifying thread of the entire Biblical record. Finally, God charges us to be engaged in his ongoing work in this broken and defiant world. We respond, as Isaiah, by offering our lives for His service.

So our worship service at Grace, like many around the world, follows this pattern. The bulletin provides a road map to help us understand where we are and where we are going.  The following five headings guide us along:

  • The Church Gathers
  • We Offer Praise and Confession
  • We Feast on God’s Word
  • We Respond to God’s Word
  • The Church Goes Out to Serve in Jesus’ Name


Let’s think about each a bit.


1) The Church Gathers

An important part of our “gathering” is to greet each other at the beginning of the service. We believe this helps us establish some connection with those we are worshipping with. When God’s people gather for worship, it is intended to be a corporate activity. So it helps if we can establish a bit of connection with those around us, right from the start.

 

2) We Offer Praise and Confession

This is the posture we are to take before a Holy God when we come before Him to worship. Since He is our focus, we begin our worship by collectively honoring Him in word and song. We acknowledge Who He is and, like Isaiah, we confess who we are (sinners unworthy of God’s mercy and forgiveness) and we verbally affirm our belief in Him.

 

3) We Feast on God’s Word

One of the most amazing things about God is that He chose to reveal Himself to human beings through the written word of the Bible. Just as He revealed Himself to Isaiah, He continues to reveal Himself to us today through His Word. This suggests that God, ultimately, wants to be known! Otherwise He wouldn’t have gone to the trouble to reveal Himself to us. So when the preacher opens the Word of God to us, we take it seriously and, in that sense, we are feasting on it. The sermon topic determines the theme of the entire service (since it is God’s word to us) and informs the music selections and other components of the service.

 

4) We Respond to God’s Word

When God reveals Himself to us, it is appropriate for us to respond to Him, just as Isaiah did. How do we do this in the worship service? In several ways.  First, we always give our tithes and offerings as an acknowledgement that everything we have actually belongs to God and that He is worthy of our gifts.  Second, we pray for the needs of others, recognizing that the grace we have received from God is to be extended to others. Third, we regularly share in the Lord’s Supper together, feeding on Christ Himself Who is the very Word of God.  And fourth, we pay attention to the Holy Spirit as He applies the Word of God, as it has been read and spoken, to our hearts.

 

5) The Church Goes Out to Serve in Jesus’ Name

The ministry of the church now begins. It takes place all over the city of York as the church disperses to its homes, its neighborhoods, and its places of employment—all places where God has positioned the church to be partners in His work of building His kingdom. We expect God to use us throughout the week since we have the Holy Spirit within us. This is the normal way that God operates in the world.

We trust that when you worship with us, you will notice the pattern of worship as outlined in our bulletin and will derive meaning and renewal after worshipping at Grace. All for God’s ultimate glory and honor!


¹ Wayne Brouwer, senior pastor, Harderwyk Ministries, Holland, Michigan
² Gary Parrett,  9.5 Theses on Worship, Asst. professor of Christian Education, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary