In the first part of this series I talked about the need for a sense of order in our worship. I laid out some reasons why we sing the songs we sing when we sing them. Remember the goal is to answer the following question:
If all your church offered for a service was the music what would people know about God?
My hope is that all we do in a service points us to the finished work of Christ. So, today I’d like to discuss in detail the individual pieces of a service and how they communicate aspects of the gospel.
Opening Song (Call To Worship; Glory) – The first song of the set has a three-fold purpose: 1) Get people in the room; 2) prepare their minds and hearts to hear the gospel; 3) point them to God’s glory. It is only in light of God’s glory that we recognize our great need.
Welcome and Greeting – One of God’s under appreciated characteristics is His hospitality. I’ve heard complaints about the time in service when we shake hands, but this is a time when we practice God’s hospitality. Remember God sent his son into the world, the ultimate act of hospitality. Regardless of if it’s uncomfortable we’re being formed by the Spirit in that moment to become hospitable like God. I will probably write a longer post about this time and why I find it so very important.
Worship Set – It’s in this time where we lay out that God is good, we are not, Jesus came to save us, and has been successful. Typically, I like to open with a scripture reading that demonstrates God’s glory then we sing on that. The second song is often confessional in nature and points not to God’s glory, but to his suffering on the cross because of our sin. Think on the song “Forever Reign” that opens with the lyrics: “You are good, you are good, and there’s nothing good in me.” Tough pill to swallow. If we always ended on Christ’s death we’d be missing the hope of the gospel – which is not just that Jesus died, but that he has risen and will come again. The third song’s goal is to point us to the hope of the ressurection and his quick return. It’s in this moment where we’re freed up to worship God fully for all that He is and has done.
Prayer (Thank God for the Gospel) – I always like to end our worship set with a prayer that’s basically this:
“Heavenly Father, you are so good and glorious. We do not deserve all that You’ve done and on our own we’re unable to draw near to You. But, because You’re so good you’ve sent your son to make a way for us, to rescue us from ourselves. By the power of Your Spirit we’re drawn near to you. Thank you God for all that You’ve done for us. It’s by the power of your Spirit we pray, and in the name of your son, Jesus, that we pray. Amen!”
Sermon (Word) – God speaks to us through His word, the Bible. The sermon is the time in which we hear from God. The gospel that we sang about, is what frees us to be able to hear and understand what God would have for us.
Prayer Partners – This is my favorite moment in the serivce. It allows us to take a moment and breathe and respond to all that happens. It’s the moment in service when we’re not doing anything. I’m willing to bet it’s among the stillest, calmest moment in all of our weeks.
Offering – This part of service is not a fundraiser for the church. This is a moment of worship. We’re responding to God’s generosity by practicing generosity.
Last Song and Dismissal (Benediction) – Here is where we sum up musically all that has happened in service and we are sent out into the world by the Spirit. Typically, the song lyrics here are about us and what God would have us do in light of God and what He’s already done.
Photo Credit: Jay Juan
In Part 3 of this series I give scriptural reasoning for each of these practices.