A Brief Explanation of the
worship service at
christ covenant church
If you are new to the church, or have experience in churches with simpler worship services (a few songs, a sermon, a few more songs), the worship service at Christ Covenant Church may initially feel unfamiliar or even uncomfortable. Its structure might seem too confining, its prayers and creeds too scripted, its Sunday-to-Sunday consistency too predictable. We get it. Our hope is that this explanation will help you better understand and, perhaps, even come to appreciate why worship looks and feels the way it does at Christ Covenant. So why does it look and feel this way?
The Worship Service Mirrors Encounters with God in the Bible
When God’s people encounter him in the Bible some consistent themes emerge. There is a recognition of God’s character, a resulting recognition of our character, an extension of grace from God to us, an expression of our devotion to him, a request for his help, his instruction of us, (often) his eating with us, and his sending us out to do his will in his world. You can see this pattern in passages like Exodus 3, Deuteronomy 5, 2 Chronicles 5-7, and Isaiah 6, among others.
It is this pattern that we are re-enacting in our worship service under the headings of Adoration, Confession, Assurance, Thanksgiving, Petition & Intercession, Instruction, Communion, and Charge & Benediction. This structure is simply our attempt to cooperate with how the Church has biblically and historically related to God in worship. Happily, it also keeps our worship from being “determined by arbitrary rule (“I’ve decided…”), personal taste (“What I like is…”), church tradition (“What we have always done is…”), or cultural preference (“What the people will find acceptable, attractive, or enjoyable is…”).¹ Secondly,
The Worship Service Shapes Us According to the Gospel
We believe that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). We also believe that salvation is both a point (conversion) and a process (sanctification until glorification). Because the gospel is God’s power for both, we never stop needing the gospel. The structure of the worship service is our attempt to reinforce that truth. As one author puts it, “Just as preaching represents the gospel in word, and as the sacraments represent the gospel in symbol, so also the liturgy represents the gospel in structure.”²
“Habits shape us. The same is certainly true for the act of worship.”³ Therefore, we want the worship service to be a means of not only hearing the gospel and expressing our response to it, but also a means of experiencing it so that it shapes us into the happy, holy, humble people Christ has redeemed us to be. May your experience of the gospel in worship shape you into just such a person today and every Lord’s Day until that day (2 Timothy 1:12)!
¹ Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Worship (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009): 126.
² Ibid., 118-119.
³ Jonathan Landry Cruse, What Happens When We Worship (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2020): 25.