Sunday Morning Liturgy
What’s a Liturgy?
The term liturgy comes from the Greek word latreuō, meaning “to work or serve.” In the Bible, the term centers on the carrying out of religious duties or participation in worship. For example, Paul testified, I worship (latreuō) the God of my ancestors according to the Way (Acts 24:14a). The conception of worship as service to God is preserved in the description of a church’s gathering as a worship service. Corresponding to this description of the gathering is the term for the order of service, liturgy.
Every church has a liturgy, even if it does not use that term, and pastors have the responsibility to carefully shape that liturgy. However, the Bible doesn’t prescribe a particular liturgy for every gathering, which allows for a measure of flexibility in its formation. Still, Biblical examples and commands set the standard for what should be included in the church’s worship gatherings. In addition, there are nearly 2,000 years of Church history that provide examples of how Christians have developed liturgies for corporate worship in years gone by.
At Resurrection, we want to make the gospel central to everything we do, including our gatherings for corporate worship. For that reason, we shape the entire service along the arc of the gospel, beginning with the presence of the loving, creating, speaking God who calls people to himself, followed by the recognition of sin and the availability of forgiveness through Christ alone. Following the emphasis on confession of sin and affirmation of pardon comes further consideration of God’s work in Christ by the Spirit, eliciting praise and thanksgiving with an orientation to the future fullness of Christ’s kingdom.
The service progresses with a continued call for response to the sustaining Word of God, expressed primarily through the preaching of Scripture. Finally, the service concludes with participation in the Eucharist, which encapsulates the whole gospel (remembering Christ’s death and anticipating his return). The congregation is then sent with a blessing in the form of a benediction.
Thematically, every aspect of the service gives expression to the gospel arc that shapes the service as a whole. Yet, each section should, when possible, also connect to the theme of the sermon. On this point, we follow in the tradition of the Reformers of the 1500s, who recovered the centrality of the Bible in the worship of the Church. In this way, we allow the narrative of redemption to shape the flow of the service, animated by the centrality of the preaching of the Scriptures. Our liturgy, or order of service, has been carefully constructed in light of our twin commitment to rehearsing the gospel and finding life in the preached Word.
We stream our services to our Facebook page, hoping that those who are unable to join us in person will be encouraged and helped with this resource. Our purpose is not to replace the in-person gathering with a livestream experience, but to provide an opportunity for those interested in visiting our church to see what a service is like and to provide a short-term solution for those who normally worship with us in person, but are prohibited by sickness, inclement weather, or some other life interruption. If you have questions about what you observe in our services or would like to learn more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Generally, our morning service is ninety minutes in length and follows the liturgy, or order of service, outlined and explained below. Often, the congregation is involved in responsive readings In each case, the prompts on the screen will guide you. At Resurrection Church, we also respond as a congregation following the reading of the Bible. The reader will end the reading by declaring, This is the Word of the Lord. In unison, the congregation response, Thanks Be to God.
You can learn more about our theology and practice of public worship by listening to the recordings from our Bible Class, Worship: Evangelical and Embodied.
Adoration of God
Welcome & Announcements
We generally begin with a welcome and announcements. We feel that there really is no good place for announcements. They break the flow of the service if they are placed in the middle and distract from the focus of the service when placed at the end. By fronting the service with announcements, we are able to give those arriving late a small buffer so that they can join us for the Call to Worship.
Call to Worship
In this section, there will usually be a short reading on the screen. There will often be a line for the reader to read, followed by a line for the congregation to read. You are join in the congregational reading in response to the call to worship.
The words for each song are displayed on the TVs at the front of the room. Each week, we update our Spotify playlist so that you can reflect in advance on the songs that we will sing—and start to learn any songs that you aren’t familiar to you.
When it comes to our congregational singing, we have two unchanging commitments:
- We purpose to sing carefully selected, theologically rich songs. We want to include music that testifies to a variety of theological truths. We also want to include music that witnesses various Christians experiences, allowing us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
- We purpose to prioritize the voice of the congregation. This means that we do not sing some songs simply because they are hard to sing congregationally. This also means that we try to regulate the volume of the music. We are extremely grateful for all of our musicians and music leaders, but we especially want to hear each other sing. If the music isn’t loud enough for you, we can help you find a spot positioned toward the speakers. If the music is too loud for you, we can help you find a dead spot where the speakers are not so powerful.
In addition to the two unchanging commitments, there are two more dynamic influences on the style (or for lack of a better term, the vibe) of our music:
- Our musical style and song choice is influenced by who we are as a congregation. Although the unchanging commitments are our first priority when choosing music, we do try to accommodate the preferences of the members of our assembly.
- Who we have influences the style of our music. We are thankful for the musicians who serve us each week by playing and leading music. Each of them have different musical backgrounds, so the style varies from week to week, depending on the style and skill of the musicians involved.
Confession of Sin & Affirmation of Pardon
Pastoral Prayer -or- Congregational Reading
The Bible teaches us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Those who repent of their sin are promised forgiveness in Jesus Christ and are progressively changed to be more like him. Still, Christians often sin against God. For that reason, we regularly confess our sin as individuals and as a congregation.
We don’t stop by confessing our sin. We move to affirm the pardon that is offered in Jesus Christ, who is faithful and right to forgive our sins and to cleans us from all unrighteousness.
This song reinforces the confession of sin and affirmation of pardon. Songs that are chosen include acknowledgment of sin, the need for Christ, and the assurance of forgiveness that can be found in him.
Old Testament Reading
The Old Testament selection is read by either a pastor or a church member. The purposes for the Old Testament reading are multiple, including an expression of reverence for the whole Bible, an aid to biblical literacy, and the forging the connection between the need for confession and pardon previously expressed and the Law’s function of revealing sin and pointing forward to the Messiah.
Thanksgiving & Requests
Prayers of the People
The prayers of the people are given by either pastors or church members. The emphasis of prayer should be to praise God for his character and work and to appeal to God for his provision, interceding on behalf of the congregation, other churches, the government, etc. The person praying should be given instructions, including suggested requests that should be included in the prayer.
This song gives musical expression to the prayers of the people, including praise to God, thanksgiving for his work in Christ, and continued reflection on the new life that we have in the gospel.
New Testament Reading
The New Testament selection can be read by either a pastor or church member. The purposes of the New Testament reading are multiple, including the increase of biblical literacy, the recognition of the importance of New Testament instructions for life and doctrine, and the provision of redemption through Jesus Christ expressed so clearly in the Gospels and Epistles.
Confession of Faith & Commitment to Obedience
Congregational Singing or Corporate Reading
On the first, third and fifth Sunday of each month we will sing an additional song. On the second and fourth Sunday we will recite either a creed or other reading.
- The song provides continued reflection on the provision of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the formation of the Church, the calls to discipleship, and the grace that enlivens the Christian life.
- Our Christian convictions and commitments should be affirmed by the congregation through responsive readings, recitations of creeds, etc. The second Sunday of each month we recite the Apostles Creed. On the fourth Sunday, use a different reading, drawing from our church covenant, a fitting selection from the Statement of Faith, the Nicene Creed, a fitting catechism question, or a responsive reading of some sort (either Scripture or a prepared reading).
Feeding from the Word of God
This song leads the congregation to consider themes related to the sermon, preparing them to consider the text that will be preached.
Sermon Text Reading
The sermon text is not always read by someone other than the speaker. However, it does allow listeners to keep in mind that the speaker is interpreting the Word and bringing it to bear—although a faithful sermon will communicate God’s word, it is not in itself God’s Word. We can say This is the Word of the Lord in response to the reading, but we can only say that of the sermon if it is in keeping with the Scriptures. This recognition allows the preacher to hear an affirmation of God’s Word immediately prior to preaching, reminding him of his responsibility to carefully handle that Word.
The sermon is typically an expositional sermon (working through a book of the Bible, one sermon at a time). However, there may be occasions where topical may be appropriate (especially on or around significant Holy/holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, etc.). The sermon is usually 30-45 minutes in length.
Response & Commission
The leader sometimes gives an opportunity for the congregation to reflect silently prior to singing; at other times, the leader simply notes that the song is our prayer of response. In either case, the leader reminds the congregation that if they are in need of spiritual counsel or care or if they desire to speak with one of the pastors in response to the service or sermon, the pastors are available.
The Lord’s Supper draws together every part of the service. A pastor generally officiates this aspect of our service. At Resurrection Church, we believe all baptized Christians should be welcomed to the Table. We also use a variety of terms for the Lord’s Supper, such as the Eucharist, the Table, and Communion.
You can learn more about why we participate in the Lord’s Supper weekly by reading a short blog post, “Weekly Celebration of the Lord’s Supper.”
We end our services with a benediction, following the pattern of many New Testament letters. The benediction assures us of God’s presence with his people and sends us with a blessing in his name.