The weekly worship services are at the centre of our activity as church. In worship we meet with God to sing his praises, talk with him in prayer, confess our sin, receive the assurance of gospel forgiveness, read the Bible, hear it preached, participate in the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, profess our faith, and receive his blessing.
We meet twice each Sunday, at 10:00 am and 3:30 pm. We do this in response to our Lord’s call to gather together in worship, and we do it on the first day of the week recognizing that Jesus’ work of conquering death came about through his resurrection, which happened on a Sunday. Following the pattern of the early church, then, we continue to meet on the first day of the week, or “The Day of Resurrection”.
We also have a number of special meetings throughout the year. These help us commemorate important events in the life of our Saviour. We celebrate his birth on Christmas Day, his suffering, death and resurrection on Good Friday and Easter, his return to heaven on Ascension Day and his giving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. We also mark the civil holidays of New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving Day. Finally, in times of great distress or blessing we may hold special prayer services.
Before The Worship Service
As you walk in our front doors, you’ll probably notice a number of people milling about in the entrance way. This is because people are happy to see one another, so they often will stop to chat before entering the worship area. You might see some children running around as well. A designated greeter will be present to answer any immediate questions you may have and provide you with a bulletin (the program for our service). If you have children that need to be watched during the service, our nursery is right in front of you as you climb the steps into our building. A number of women in our church take turns volunteering as nursery attendants.
Upon entering the worship area, you’ll need to select a spot to sit. While you’ll see some folks talking in here as well, generally it will be quieter than it was in the entrance way. This is because people tend to be preparing themselves for the worship service that’s about to begin. For some, this means reading the Scripture text that will be preached on. For others, it means saying a prayer. Others may simply choose to sit in reflective silence. The musical accompanist for the day will also be playing during this time. As the time comes to begin worshipping the minister and elders will walk in, and so the service will begin.
If you’re wondering what to bring to our church, don’t worry. There’s really nothing you need. Our service is simple, and we’re most eager for you to hear the message. A brief word on dress: you’ll notice that people look quite neat and tidy. While there’s no specific dress code, the dress you see is a reflection of how we approach our worship in our hearts and what it means to us. We take it seriously and count it as a privilege to meet with God, and so we “dress up” in comparison to how we often are dressed during the course of a week.
During the Worship Service
The service will be led by a minister. This is a man who has been examined by the churches we are associated with and set apart for the work of ministry. We believe he has been called by God to fulfill this special office, and that God confirms this calling through his studying and service in the church. He is not more special than other congregation members, but the focus is on the role, or office, that he is in.
The minister will lead us through the liturgy. This is the order in which we worship, and this order has a flow to it that will bring you into the single great story that is our message – the story that begins with God, acknowledges our sin against him, and rejoices in the salvation he offers in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
In preparing this liturgy for worship, we are guided by two major principles:
- The Dialogical Principle — This is to say that we are in a dialogue with God. Worship is coming into his presence, receiving his grace and speaking to him with our requests and our praise. We are in covenant with him; this means that we have a relationship with him. He is our covenant Lord, and we are his covenant servants. As the head of this relationship, he is the one who initiates our meeting through the “Call to Worship”. We respond to him through the “Declaration of Dependence”, to which he gives us his gracious “Greeting”. We respond in turn by singing a “Song of Praise”. This back and forth pattern is evident throughout the liturgy of our worship service.
- The Regulative Principle — Because God is holy and the one who calls us to worship him, we maintain that he not only initiates our worship but regulates it. We believe that we must only do in our worship that for which we can find biblical warrant. Obviously, many of the details come down to preferences, style, cultural context, and practical considerations. Nevertheless, the main elements of our worship are entered on God’s Word, and we strive to be faithful to it in the details as well. Our service is centred on the Bible in the following ways: 1) we read the Bible; 2) we hear the message of the Bible preached; 3) we sing songs drawn from the language of the Bible; 4) we pray to God using the words of the Bible as our guide; 5) we together make a public profession of the basic teachings of the Bible; 6) and we see the promises of the Bible visualized for us in the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
By following these principles, we seek to free you from being forced to worship according to the will of one person or another and instead focus on God and his will for us. We don’t put on a fancy show, but we seek to be joyful, reverent, heart-felt and sincere in what we do. Our worship joins us with the church of all times and places, as what we do is very similar to what the ancient church was doing almost 2000 years ago.
A brief word about the offering: this is an opportunity for the members of the church to show they’re thankfulness to the Lord by giving some of all that he has given them for the good of others, whether inside or outside of the church. If you’re visiting, please do not feel compelled to give. We give freely from our hearts as a consequence of being transformed by our Lord Jesus, who gave of himself for our sakes.
Regarding the Lord’s Supper: if we are participating in this sacrament (the first Sunday afternoon of every odd-numbered month and the first Sunday morning of every even-numbered month), the elders will make themselves present prior to the service so that you can have a brief conversation with them to confirm that you should take part. Make no mistake – we’d love for you to join us! The Lord’s Supper is meant for all who have received Christ by faith and are resting in him for their salvation rather than in their own good works. If this is you, please join us! But if you’re still exploring Christianity and have not committed yourself to Christ and his church, then understand that this is not yet for you. God uses the Lord’s Supper to strengthen each believer in their union with Christ. In doing so, he is showing grace to his people. This goes both ways, however. If the Supper serves as a means of grace for believers, it is detrimental for the unbeliever who is not fit to eat it. The question of eligibility for the Supper depends upon whether or not you believe in Jesus as your Saviour and have committed to joining his church.
After the Worship Service
The announcement of the gospel message is so powerful and life-changing that it creates something. The gospel creates community. Through our union with Christ, we have communion with one another. This means that we are more than just individuals who decided to worship in the same place; we are a spiritual body of believers with Christ as our head, connected with one another in much the same way as the members of a physical body are connected to one another. This is a profound thought; practically speaking, this has many implications. One of them is that our members don’t typically leave immediately following the worship service. Worshippers are not consumers – we come, we consume, we go. Rather, you’ll find that the majority of us will linger for some time afterwards. In the morning, this simply means talking with one another, whether it be about the service, our week, or any number of things. Some people take this further and invite one another into their homes for lunch. After our 3:30 service, everyone goes downstairs to eat snacks and have a drink of some kind while we carry on our socializing. On Sundays where we have the Lord’s Supper, a potluck meal is held following the afternoon service. This is a highlight of our fellowship for many of our members.