How We Worshipped: One Sunday in February

Every few weeks I like to share an example of one of our services at Grace Fellowship Church. I hope that by doing this others will follow suit! I love to learn how other churches worship and often find myself both challenged and encouraged as I see how other congregations worship God in their unique contexts and cultures.

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This service’s cast of characters included Steve as our service leader, Paul as our preacher, Joshua as our lead worshipper, and Stefan as our Scripture reader. Our band consisted of two guitars, piano, and cajon accompanying a male and female vocalist. The various elements of the service are in bold with the name of the person who led the element in parentheses. Items in quotes represent roughly what the person said to the congregation. Items not in quotes are explanatory.

Responsive Reading (Joshua)

The service began with a responsive reading of Psalm 99:

Leader: The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
Congregation: The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.
Leader: Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Congregation: Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!
Leader: Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them. In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them.
Congregation: O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. [9] Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!

Singing (Joshua)

Confession of Sins (Paul)

Paul led us in private confession of sins. He did this by first quoting some of the words we had just finished singing, then inviting us to silently confess our sins to God.

“‘Awake, my soul, and sing / Of Him who died for thee, / And hail Him as thy matchless King / Through all eternity.’ We tell our souls to wake up, since we too often fall asleep spiritually. We tolerate sin and pursue happiness outside of God. Take a moment to silently confess such sins to God.”

Singing (Joshua)

  • “Be Merciful to Me” (by Caedmon’s Call)

Assurance of Pardon (Paul)

Paul provided an assurance of pardon by reflecting on Psalm 99:8:

“‘O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.’ God totally forgives every Christian, since all their wrongdoings have been avenged on Christ. Happily clothe yourselves anew in that Good News, Christian. You are forgiven because of Him.”

Singing (Joshua)

Opposite Text Reading (Stefan)

Stefan read Romans 10:5-21. He began by saying “Listen to the Word of God,” and read the text without announcing where it was from. He finished by saying “This reading was from Romans 10:5-21.”

Membership Covenant (Steve)

We welcomed new members to our church by reciting the membership covenant together.

Pastoral Prayer (Steve)

Steve led the congregation in the pastoral prayer. He prayed for a number of matters, including the new members and the “intentional spiritual friendships” we are encouraging people to form within the church.

Scripture Reading (Steve)

Steve read the text that would be the basis for the sermon: Exodus 18:1-12. After inviting people to turn to the text, he said:

“This is what Holy Scripture says…”

[Steve read Exodus 18]

“This is the world of the Lord,” to which the congregation replied, “Thanks be to God.”

Singing (Joshua)

Sermon (Paul)

Paul preached on Exodus 18, using it as an opportunity to challenge our church in evangelism. This was his outline:

  1. Wait on God to open a door for the Gospel (1-6)
  2. Love your non-Christian friends and family (7)
  3. Tell the non-Christians in your life the Good News of the Gospel (8)
  4. Watch as God saves the most unlikely people (9-12)

Singing (Joshua)

Commission (Steve)

Steve used the theme of the sermon to call the congregation to live in a distinctly Christian way in a lost and dying world. He invited anyone with questions to attend the sermon Q&A immediately following the service and invited everyone to attend that evening’s baptism service.

Benediction (Steve)

“Receive this blessing of the Lord from His Word: ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.'”