The Primacy of Worship
Worship is at the very heart of the Church's existence (Ps. 86:9; 96:7-9; 99:5). It will be the primary activity of God's covenant people in heaven (Isa. 6:1-3; Heb. 12:22, 23; Rev. 4:8-11) and thus it should be the primary activity of God's covenant people on earth.
However, there are many believers, including church leaders, who disagree with this. They argue that missions or evangelism should be the primary work of the Church on earth. Although missions is absolutely vital to the Church's faith and life as attested to by our Lord (Matt. 28:18-20), the only reason missions exists is because worship does not. That is to say, missions is not the chief end of man; the chief end of man is worship. Missionary or evangelistic efforts are indeed necessary, and they are a great privilege in which the Church must engage, but they are nevertheless secondary, existing only because there are men and women, boys and girls who have yet to bend the knee in reverential worship to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
This truth has a profound effect upon the purpose of God's people coming together for corporate worship and the elements which make up that worship. The purpose for God's people coming together in worship is to meditate upon the nature and works of the Triune God and exalt Him corporately. In both Hebrew and Greek, the word "worship" literally means "to bow down," and is commonly used to describe the gathering together of God's people (Jn. 4:19-24). Worship, therefore, is not restricted to singing, but encompasses all that the Church does when her members gather together. This includes singing His praises (Ps. 95:1; Eph. 5:19), offering up prayers (Num. 21:7, 1 Thess. 5:25), presenting tithes and offerings (Mal. 3:10; 1 Cor. 16:2), administering the sacraments of baptism (Matt. 28:19) and the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-26), and attending the Lord's Word with much diligence and care as it is read and preached (Ezra 8:5-8; 1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2).
The Family in Worship
Worship should involve the whole covenant community. Therefore, we encourage parents to keep their covenant children in the worship service as much as possible. We realize there are times when this is not possible, so we do offer a nursery during the worship service as a service to parents who would otherwise miss parts of the service regularly. But our nursery is not intended to be a place to send small children during the entire service (or even during the sermon!) regularly, week after week. Our children belong to the kingdom of God (Mark 10:13-16), and are thus to be included in the worship of God (Ps. 8:2). Don't worry, we expect infants and little children to make some noise during worship. We praise the Lord for the cries of little ones as a reminder of His gracious blessing of the gift of children, who are a heritage from Him.
Matthew 21:15–16 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
The Order of Worship
Although the order of our worship services may vary slightly from week to week, the following is an example of the elements and order (or liturgy) used in a typical worship service, which follows a basic pattern of dramatic dialogue between the Lord and His covenant people:
|Element of Worship||The Dialogue of Worship|
|Call to Worship||The Lord speaks|
|Hymn of Praise||His people respond|
|Prayer of Invocation|
|Confession of Faith|
|Confession of Sin|
|Assurance of Pardon||The Lord speaks|
|Hymn of Thanksgiving||His people respond|
|Giving of Tithes and Offerings|
|Old Testament Scripture Reading||The Lord speaks|
|New Testament Scripture Reading|
|Hymn of Preparation||His people respond|
|Preaching of God's Word||The Lord speaks|
|Sacrament of the Lord's Supper*||The Lord speaks|
|Hymn of Affirmation||His people respond|
|Benediction||The Lord speaks|
* The Lord's Supper is observed on the last Sunday of each month.