Combined Worship - Explained
In our upcoming worship services, we are planning to offer blended worship. People have all kinds of feelings about blended worship depending on what they understand the term to mean. Some think of blended worship as taking a few songs from traditional worship and a few modern songs and putting them both into the worship service in an effort to please everyone.
The danger is, when we focus on just the style of music, that we might equally disappoint everyone. Those who love contemporary music feel that the traditional elements are dated and irrelevant. Those who love traditional worship feel that contemporary music is only useful as entertainment.
We are looking to take the best from both, and create a worship service that fits us, our identity, our love for tradition and our engagement with modern technology and worship styles.
I grew up in a church with traditional acapella worship. Later in life, when I came back to faith, I found a great connection to my renewed faith through contemporary worship music, while continuing to find classic hymns to be a great source of inspiration.
When I went to seminary, attending chapel services, I discovered a variety of styles of preaching, music, and liturgy. I grew to appreciate these new forms of worship, and through them I was able to connect with God in different and significant ways.
As we come together for a shared worship service in the coming year, we want to not simply offer what everyone is used to, but use this change to introduce some innovative and significant worship elements to move us closer to Jesus.
As we welcome new families and visitors into our church, we begin our service with music that is popular today. This has deep roots in our Wesleyan tradition. Charles Wesley wrote lyrics but set these hymns to popular tunes of the day. He wanted to use familiar melodies for the words he wrote, to teach the important theological concepts that he was forming with his brother John. Today, we continue to use contemporary music to engage our faith in our daily lives and experiences. We also honor the rich tradition of hymns and incorporate them into every service. Here is an explanation of the intention for the worship elements in our services:
Prelude - as people gather for worship, a musical prelude helps people make the transition from the world outside the church to preparing their hearts to worship God. As the prelude transitions to the beginning of the worship service, one of our worship leaders will offer prayers of adoration, reflections, or psalter readings as we turn our hearts from the cares of the day and toward praising and worshiping God. Opening Song - This is a lively song, intended to celebrate the great joy of coming together for worship! We encourage people to engage with the music in whatever way they feel comfortable, singing along, raising their hands, dancing, moving around, coming to the altar to pray, or any other way. Many of us (certainly your pastor) didn't grow up with expressive worship and initially might feel uncomfortable allowing ourselves to do this. I have found that my discomfort is – actually - a resistance to fully worshiping God, when this is the case, worship is more about me than about God. While you may not move around much, a little bit of embodied worship, just like embodied prayer, can bring you to new places in worship than simply staying put in your comfort zone.
Hymn - We do a hymn every week. At times these will be taken right out of our hymnal, and you are welcome to pick up a hymnal and sing from those pages or from the screen. Often our worship team will play a modern take on a classic hymn. We put the words up on the screen for those who don't read music and would prefer to have their hands free.
Testimonies – Regularly, if not weekly, we will have church members share testimonies of how God has been at work in their life. These stories aren’t to brag, but rather to witness to the effect God’s power can have in a person’s life. The intent is to encourage everyone to experience this transforming power.
Offering – Scripture is full of references to the practice of giving, supporting the ministry of the church, is to be an act of worship. The music during our offering can be an anthem, a praise song, a solo, an ensemble, or anything. If the words are up on the screen, feel free to sing along. If there are no words on the screen, this can be a time that you simply listen to the music and use it as a meditative time about how you are offering your life and your resources to God. This selection typically precedes the day’s message. We believe few things prepare the heart to receive the word of God like music. Doxology – Immediately following the offering, we sing the Doxology. This has been the practice in the church for centuries. In our offering, we give thanks for all that God has given us and sing this song of praise and thanksgiving. Sermon – Our pastor preaches through books or sections of the Bible systematically. Instead of topical or lectionary-based messages, we choose instead to work our way though significant sections of the Bible one verse or section at a time. Recently we have had message series through the Gospels of Luke and John, Old Testament books of Genesis, Exodus, and Nehemiah, as well as various Epistles and Prophetical books.
Communion – On Sundays where we have Communion, the music during communion serves as our closing song. This music is meant to draw people deeper into this the sacrament together as we respond to the word and to use the time to either sing along or pray and ponder about God's presence with us and our love for God and each other as a church family. Closing Song – We end our worship together with a song of celebration as we praise God for allowing us to spend time together, in his presence. This closing song is also a time for our prayer ministry to be available for people who made a decision to follow Christ, need support spiritually or emotionally, or just want to have a spiritual conversation and perhaps ask a question of the pastor. The altar is open throughout our worship, but during the closing worship, we are intentional to invite people to come forward.
Prayer – Throughout the worship service, there will be a variety of prayers being led. Specifically, we begin with a prayer of adoration, recognizing the nature and presence of God in our worship. We have prayers of confession, which also include a time of silent prayer for worshippers to confess their spiritual shortcomings. We have a prayer of intercession, sometimes called a bidding prayer, where people are given time to offer their own prayer requests as led by the worship leader. We will have a prayer of commitment; the pastor leads people to surrender their lives to Christ and accept the call of discipleship. In closing the service there will be a prayer of thanksgiving as a worship leader or congregant leads the church in thanking God for all that has been done in the days’ worship.
The Worship Choir rehearses every week. All are invited to join!