How We Worship
Worship is central to our faith. We believe worship must be:
As a Reformed church, we hold to the regulative principle of worship. The regulative principle of worship (which is derived from the second commandment) states that we are to worship God in no other way than He has prescribed in His Word.
God-Centred Not Man Centered
Much of contemporary worship today is designed to evoke certain feelings on the part of the worshipper. While true worship involves the feelings, that is not of primary importance. Of primary importance is whether God is glorified. This is why in our church the sermon receives the primary emphasis. In the sermon God speaks to us through His Holy Spirit – insofar as it accurately expounds the Word of God.
When we gather together for worship, we come into the presence of God Himself. For this reason we aim to foster a reverent atmosphere in worship, as befits His holiness.
We believe the worship service should be orderly (I Cor 14: 26, 33, 40). This is because God is a God of order. To assist us in this, our church has adopted a standardized order of worship which dates back to the time of the Reformation. This order of worship is as follows:
- Votum The votum (Latin for “prayer”) is an expression of our dependence on God. In the votum we confess that we cannot worship as He ought to be worshipped God unless He is with us. The votum is taken from Psalm 124: 8: “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” The minster begins every worship service by reciting these words.
- Salutation The word “salutation” means “greeting”. In the salutation, the minister, on behalf of the triune God, greets the covenant congregation of the Lord. As such it comes after the votum. It is God’s response to the votum. Two salutations are commonly used. In the morning, the minister greets the congregation as follows: “Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is how the apostle Paul greeted his readers in several of his epistles (Rom 1: 8; 1 Cor 1: 23, 2 Cor 1: 2, Gal 1: 2, Eph 1: 2, Phil 1: 2, Col 1: 2b, 1 Thess 1: 2b, 2 Thess 1: 2, 1 Tim 1: 2, 2 Tim 1: 2, Titus 1; 4, Philemon 3). In the evening, another salutation is used. This one is taken from Rev 1: 4-5a: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.” Since the salutation is a greeting, the minister usually opens his eyes and looks at the congregation. He also raises his right hand as a sign of greeting. In the salutation, God greets sinners. He speaks peace to them. This reminds us that God is not against us, but for us. He is willing to have dealings with us, in spite of our sins.
- Congregational Singing In response to God’s greeting, the congregation sings a Psalter. Usually this Psalter is a psalm of exuberant praise
- Reading of the Law of God (Ten Commandments) The reading of the Law of God in the worship service is a practice that dates back to the time of the Reformation. We normally read the law of God (and, from time to time, the summary of the law) during the morning service. We do this to remind us how far short we have fallen of what God requires of us, to point us to Christ who alone has kept the law of God perfectly and who, by faith, imputes His righteousness to His people, and to teach us how we ought to live in thankfulness for all that God has done for us in Christ.
- Congregational Singing In response to the reading of the law, the congregation sings a Psalter. In this Psalter we extol the law of God, confess our sins before God, ask God to give us grace to keep His law, and ask for His forgiveness
- Reading of Scripture At this point the minister will read the portion(s) of Scripture on which the sermon is based.
- Confession of Faith (Apostle’s Creed) In the evening service, we usually read the Apostle’s Creed. This custom dates back to the first centuries AD. It was continued by the churches of the Reformation. When the minister reads the creed the congregation is asked to recite it in his or her own heart as an expression of our faith in God.
- Congregational Prayer Congregational prayer is a specific kind of prayer. In congregational prayer, the minister prays on behalf of the congregation and brings the various needs of the church and the kingdom before the Lord.
- Offering The offering is another important part of the worship service. In the offering we express our stewardship. We are reminded that God is the giver of everything that we have – also our money. It all belongs to Him. Therefore, it is appropriate that we give back to Him a portion of what He has given to us; our thankfulness. Our offering should be an expression of our thankfulness to the Lord for all that he has done for us; our trust. When we give to the Lord, we trust that He will also supply us in all of our needs. In our church, we normally take up two offerings. The first is for the general fund (i.e. the church budget). The second is for a charitable cause designated by the deacons. As Christians we believe that we should give liberally and cheerfully as Paul instructs in 2 Cor 8 and 9).
- Sermon The sermon is the most important part of the worship service. In the sermon, the minister authoritatively expounds the Word of God. It is primarily by means of preaching that God saves sinners and builds up His people in the faith (Rom 10: 14-17; I Cor 1: 18, 21; I Thess 2: 13). We should be very attentive when the Word of God is being preached. We should listen meditatively and prayerfully.
- Congregational Singing After the sermon we normally sing a Psalter. The Psalter is our response to the Word preached. It normally reflects the message of the sermon;
- Prayer In this prayer, we thank the Lord for the message which we have heard and ask Him to apply it to our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit so that it may bear fruit to His glory.
- Congregational Singing At the end of the service we sing a closing Psalter. This Psalter is normally an expression of praise to God
- Benediction The benediction is a pronouncement of blessing. In the benediction, God, through the mouth of the minister, pronounces His blessing on the congregation. This practice dates back to the Old Testament where it was pronounced by the priests. After the morning service, the benediction is normally taken from Num 6: 24-26 (the “Aaronic” benediction). After the evening service, the benediction is normally taken from 2 Cor 13: 14 (the “Pauline” or “Apostolic” benediction).
- Doxology The doxology is a short song of praise to God. As such, it is an appropriate way to end the worship service.
About Our Worship
- We use the NKJV version of the Scriptures.
- We celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Communion) every three months.
- We believe that since baptism is a sign and seal of God’s covenant of grace, infants of believers ought to be baptized.
- We only sing psalms in worship accompanied by the organ or piano.
- While we do not have a formal dress code, we appreciate it when people come “dressed up” for church.
- We practice “close” (not “closed”) communion. This means only members of our congregation in good standing and guests who have received permission from the elders are permitted to partake of communion.
- Every Sunday afternoon the minister preaches a sermon based on the Word of God as it is summarized in a “Lord’s Day” of the Heidelberg Catechism.
- Aside from twice every Lord’s Day, we also have services on New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Ascension Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
- Refreshments are served after the morning service.