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How We Worshipped

How We Worshipped

The Bible instructs us in how we must worship God and tells us what elements we must include in our worship services. Yet it still allows a lot of leeway for us to interpret those elements to our culture and context.

I thought it might be fun to share from time to time the liturgy (i.e. “order”) of some of our worship services. I know how much I have benefitted from attending other churches and learning how they structure their services. It can be a blessing to learn from one another, so I share these in an attempt to serve the wider church by giving an example of how we worship in Toronto.

This service’s cast of characters included Paul as the preacher and service leader and Josh as the lead worshipper. I also led a couple of elements. 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.

Call to Worship (Paul)

“Our worship of God today is framed by the thoughts of Psalm 66. ‘Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in him, who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations—let not the rebellious exalt themselves.’ Join me in singing your praise to this great God!”

Singing (Josh)

Opposite Text Reading (Paul)

“Listen to the Word of God again from Psalm 66. ‘Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.’ The Psalmist knows that if he loves his darling sins, he has no business mouthing praises to God. So it is good for us to stop and confess our sins to one another.”

Explanation: When our sermon is drawn from the New Testament, we typically read a complementary text from the Old Testament (and vice versa).

Confession of Sin

“I am going to read out a list of particular sins and pause after each one. If you agree (for agreement with God is the heart of confession) that you have sinned in this way, simply say out loud: ‘Yes, Lord.’ Lord, forgive us for…

  • …idolatry (“Yes, Lord”)
  • …envy (“Yes, Lord”)
  • …using Your Name in vain (“Yes, Lord”)
  • …lust (“Yes, Lord”)
  • …pride (“Yes, Lord”)
  • …lies and deception (“Yes, Lord”)
  • …lack of zeal (“Yes, Lord”)
  • …lack of self-control (“Yes, Lord”)

“Most merciful God, for these sins, and hundreds of others, we now ask for your forgiveness in Christ. Amen.”

Singing (Josh)

Assurance of Pardon (Paul)

“Because Jesus died for your sins, if your faith is in Him alone, you are forgiven. God says to His people: ‘I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you’ (Isaiah 44:22). Now praise God as one who has been forgiven!”

Singing (Josh)

Pastoral Prayer (Tim)

Explanation: This pastoral prayer was a balance of prepared and spontaneous. I knew what items I would pray for and had a few point-form notes. Beyond that, it was extemporaneous. It included thanks to God for bringing new members into our church; intercession for the nearby congregation of Liberty Grace Church (as each week we pray for a local church); and prayers for our province’s Premier, Kathleen Wynne (as each week we pray for a different one of our governmental leaders). It covered a number of other areas as well. It was perhaps five minutes in length.

Scripture Reading (Tim)

“Please take out your Bible so we can read God’s Word together. If you do not have a Bible, just raise your hand and one of the ushers will be glad to bring you one. If you don’t own a Bible of your own, please just take this one home with you. Our reading today will be from Exodus 1, which you can find on page 45 of your church Bible. Now listen as I read.”

“This is what holy Scripture says.”

[I read the entirety of Exodus 1.]

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

Singing (Josh)

Note: Our “Early Years” program for children aged 4 and 5 was dismissed as we began singing the song.

Sermon (Paul)

The sermon title was, “Exodus 1: Look Up, Look Way Up” and was part of the series, “The God Who Saves, Speaks, and Stays: A Series on the Book of Exodus.” (Listen here)

  1. How Things Looked
    1. They Were Lost and Forgotten (6, 8)
    2. They Were Enslaved and Abused (10-11, 13-14)
    3. They Were Dead and Dying (15-16, 22)
  2. How Things Were
    1. They Were Known and Remembered (1-5)
    2. They Were Fruitful and Multiplying (6-7, 12, 19)
    3. They Were Alive and Living (17, 20)

Song of Response (Josh)

Commission (Paul)

Explanation: The sermon provided a couple of points of application. Paul reminded us of these as a bridge to a commission to godly living. This transitioned to information about some upcoming events in the life of the church, each of which is a way to fulfill that commission. We try never to say the word “announcements” since we find it causes people to tune out. Rather, we tie the upcoming information into a kind of call to action, a means of fulfilling our God-given commission in the world.

Benediction (Paul)

“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.”

(Note: This service was unusually light on hymns because, for various reasons, the following week we had only hymns. Perhaps I can share that order of service soon.)

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