“Saying what you mean is one of the hardest things in the world to do.” – Mortimer Adler
Our goal in worship is to proclaim (say) what we believe (mean) about the most important thing in the entire universe: God. At face value, this seems like it should be simple and easy, but there are a lot of things to think about as we approach God: What exactly should we be doing? How do we actually implement it? Do we understand why we’re doing it?
At the center of all of this is the fact that God is infinitely worthy of worship and eminently accessible through the the saving work of Jesus Christ that allows us to stand before the throne of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. The people of Stonebrook Church gather each and every week to do just that, and if you read on, you’ll get some insight into the what, the why, and the how of our Sunday morning worship times.
You will see from our Mission and Vision, that one of our church’s aims is to “4. Gather…together for joy-filled, intergenerational corporate worship.” The purpose of our gathered worship is to (1) remind each other of the gospel, (2) instruct each other in the way of life that flows from the gospel, and (3) freshly send each other out on the gospel mission in our daily lives.
“…[N]ot neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Heb 10:25
We don’t just gather because we think it’s a good idea; we gather because Scripture calls us to it (Heb 10:25, Ps 111:1, Ac 2:42, Col 3:16). Although the Bible doesn’t contain one passage that lines out a specific structure of our worship times, it does present us with several prescriptions and principles to follow.
Jesus said that these greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And the second: to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The word love has a lot wrapped up in it, but at the center of it are our affections. This love is the result of seeing God clearly and knowing Him fully as the Holy Spirit works transformationally in our hearts.
In our worship, we grow our understanding and affections for God and for others. What flows from that is a zeal for ministry – a passion to reach others and to serve the Lord in all aspects of our lives: in our jobs, in our relationships with our families, in our studies, in our decisions. Our gatherings are like a compass; no matter what path we’ve taken throughout the week, they point us back to the grace of God and draw us to the path of living for Him.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Col 3:16,17
So, how do we actually go about doing this? In our worship times you’ll find prayer, the reading of Scripture, singing, fellowship, the giving of gifts, communion, and teaching. These are the means of accomplishing the movements of the liturgy, which are listed below.
Gazing at the glory of our incredible God
Admitting our need for God
Remembering the promises of God and our security in His grace for those who believe
Expressing gratitude for what God has done
Asking God to work in us and through us
Learning about God and what He has called us to
Commissioning us to live out the week by walking in the gospel
One of the most-asked questions concerning our worship times is: who is the Sunday worship service aimed at? Who are we trying to reach? The answer is actually everyone! Our services are designed to reach believers and unbelievers, young and old, rich and poor, those weeping and those rejoicing, as we point everyone at the unchanging grace of God and the hope in what is promised to come for those who believe.
This point is brilliantly summed up by Tim Keller in Worship By the Book :
“If the Sunday service aims primarily at evangelism, it will bore the saints. If it aims primarily at education, it will confuse unbelievers. But if it aims at praising the God who saves by grace, it will both instruct insiders and challenge outsiders.”
We center our services around the gospel each week. And by “the gospel” I don’t just mean the fact that Jesus died for your sins; I mean the entire story of the redemption of mankind – the story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. It’s a story that has encouragement for the brokenhearted, rest for the weary, humility for the proud, grace for the penitent, hope for the suffering, peace for the anxious, wisdom for the wandering, and everlasting joy and love for all who believe.
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.” – Ps 95:6-7
Some Changes to Our Sunday Mornings
Over the last several years, Stonebrook has held two Sunday morning services, but this Fall, we’ll only have one service at 10 AM. Our prayer is that the move to one service will result in a greater unity (as we’re all in the same place at the same time), more energy, and less strenuous ministry responsibilities for those who serve on ministry teams on Sunday mornings.
Additionally, we’ve really enjoyed Stonecup, which is a fellowship time with coffee and snacks, so we’ll continue to have this time after the morning service. Building relationships is a core component of what we do on Sunday mornings, and our hope is that Stonecup will facilitate the strengthening of old relationships and the beginnings of new ones. Our hope is that our church would walk away from our Sunday services encouraged, equipped, and excited to serve the Lord all week.
Our Sunday morning services require a lot of work to pull off. If you’re interested in using your gifts to serve Stonebrook on Sunday mornings, check out our details on how you can get involved with hospitality, administration, or music and production.
Icons from thenounproject.com.