Worship

 

Sunday Morning Schedule:

 
Sunday School ~ 9:00 a.m.
Coffee Fellowship 10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.
Morning Worship 10:30 a.m.
 
Wednesday Evenings (September – May)
 
Dinner Served ~ 5:30 – 6:20 p.m.
Bible Studies for all Ages ~ 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
 

 

We understand that many who visit with us at Covenant Church do not come from a Presbyterian background. Therefore we provide this brief explanation of the of worship at Covenant Church.

Christ told the Samaritan woman A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is a Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in Spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24) This gives us significant insight into how God would have us worship Him. Two key factors in worship are the Spirit and the truth. John 17:17, …Your Word is truth, is Christ’s definition of truth. That is, the Scriptures, the Word of God, which must be at the heart of worship. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit. When many today associate the Spirit with worship, they inevitably are making reference to a form of wild emotionalism, worship without structure. Yet, even a casual reading of 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 (written in the context of a discussion of the ministry of the Holy Spirit and worship) makes clear that order and not disorder is God’s standard in worship. Therefore, worship is not something we just come together and “do,” but is our highest calling, bringing praise, honor, and glory to the living God. We worship God the Father, through God the Son, in the power of God the Holy Spirit.

Increasingly worship is viewed as something people do for their own benefit. At Covenant we see ourselves as collectively gathered to worship God. He is the “audience” not those seated in the pews. Therefore we avoid passivity on the part of the congregation, and involve the whole congregation in orderly, thoughtful prayer, praise, giving, and thanksgiving before God, while opening our hearts to receive His Word. Not every element listed below is incorporated into the service each Lord’s Day. We trust this brief explanation will give you some insight into our understanding of worship.

Preparation

The worship of God is of such importance that it requires thoughtful preparation. Worship does not begin in the sanctuary, but in the heart and in the home as individuals and families take all the steps necessary to enter God’s presence. Some portion of Saturday should be given over to preparing the way for the Lord’s Day and worship that is not impeded by daily cares of the world around us.
 

Prelude

A musical interlude before worship begins to allow worshipers to take their place in the sanctuary and assume an attitude of worship. Use this time to pray that your heart would be made ready for worship. We are about to enter the presence of the living God, and we must not do so without preparation and reverence.
 

Call to Worship

The reading of a portion of Scripture (can be a responsive reading, and sometimes is sung) that calls those gathered together to come before the throne of the God of creation to worship Him. It is the point where each believer is called upon to sharpen their focus upon the worship of God while turning a deaf ear to the many facets of daily life that distract.
 

Invocation

A prayer asking God’s blessing upon the worship, that it might be pleasing in His sight and that what we do would be consistent with His will, not ours.
 

Music

You may find the music at Covenant to be rather unique. We sing the Psalms of the Old Testament (known as the Psalter). We sing the classic hymns of the faith, written over the years by faithful believers as expressions of their devotion to God, His Word and truth. We also sing contemporary praise music, a modern day expression of our devotion to God. In this, we not only identify with other believers today, we clearly establish that our heritage of faith dates back through the centuries. You may notice the absence of some hymns and songs that are very popular in many Christian circles, but when closely examined are found to be man centered (rather than God centered – Father, Son and/or Holy Spirit) or that contain ideas that are of very dubious theological foundation. Some consider the singing of the Psalms to be old fashioned, outdated and often difficult. In reality, they are inspired expressions of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, intercession, and historical testimony to God’s faithfulness. Every believer would do well to saturate their own prayer and praise with the language of the Psalms and singing them is a constant means of grounding oneself in this language of the faithful. One standard by which we can measure the true value of “contemporary” Christian music is not how it makes us feel, but if it contains a point of theological reference for why God should be praised. Does it deal with issues such as a quest for personal holiness, sin, repentance, forgiveness, redemption, the cross, resurrection, the Word, God’s majesty and works of providence, His attributes and character. In some services the choir will offer an anthem of praise. This is not intended as human entertainment but rather as an expression of God’s faithfulness and glory. At its conclusion, we should not want to applaud the choir, but rather praise God and His glory. The purpose of the choir is to point us to God through Christ.
 

Responsive Readings

Usually taken from the Psalms or some other portion of Scripture as an interaction with God and instruction from His Word.
 

Creeds and Confessions

Throughout the centuries believers have expressed their commonly held faith (cf 2 Timothy 2:11-13) before the world. Most creeds and confessions have been written to clearly articulate the great truths of the faith in the face of opposition or even persecution. Our brothers and sisters in Christ have died rather than recant the simple lines of the historic creeds and confessions. Remember, we are all sinful in our human nature and our natural tendency is toward corruption and that includes the corruption of our faith if we fail to observe all that Christ has commanded us. By confessing our faith publicly we  consciously identify with God’s faithful followers throughout all generations.
 

Prayers

Our talking with God. Praying of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6) provides a comprehensive and unison expression of those things we should include in prayer. The entire congregation is called upon to unite in silent prayer and then we are lead in a congregational prayer on behalf of all gathered in the house of God. While the following elements would not necessarily be included in every prayer, they do form the fundamental structure of prayer. Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication (adoration is praise to God for His greatness and justice, confession of our own sinfulness, thanksgiving for deliverance from sin through Christ and all the bountiful blessings God has given us, intercession is prayer on behalf of the needs of others, and supplication is bringing our own needs before God). The thrust of our prayers should be “kingdom focused,” praying for the advancement of the kingdom rather than simply using prayer to ask God to meet our own needs.

Tithes and Offerings

God has required that His people bring the first fruits of their labors (His blessings) into His storehouse. Under the old covenant, this ordinarily took the form of the tithe (10%). Under the new covenant we should do no less. The standard for giving was set by Christ who gave His life. Offerings are simply gifts beyond the tithe given as expression of thankfulness to God and in many cases to help special needs. Following Communion each month (see below) we receive a second “benevolent” offering which benefits the crisis pregnancy ministry or the rescue mission here in Panama City. It is customary to have an offertory during the receiving of tithes and offerings. Again, the purpose is not entertainment but an interlude which we should use to contemplate all that we have to be thankful for and that begins with our redemption in Christ.
 

Reading and Preaching of the Word

We believe the Bible to be the Word of God, the only infallible and inerrant rule of faith and life (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore the Word is sung, prayed, read, and preached. Through the Word, God speaks to those gathered to worship Him. The believer prays that God’s Spirit would open the Word in his or her heart and that we would all move from being just hearers of the Word to doers of the Word as well. God has promised His Word will not return to Him empty, but will do what He intends. So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11) Therefore, we do not approach the ministry of the Word as a wishful endeavor, but rather a divine instrument that will not be dulled or broken. While many churches seek to identify themselves as New Testament churches, we believe it is consistent with Paul’s teaching to identify ourselves with the totality of the Scriptures. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) It is also helpful to note that when Paul wrote these words, the New Testament was not yet a finished document and he was clearly making reference to the Old Testament.
 

Communion

On the second Lord’s Day of each month we celebrate the grace of God through Christ’s bearing of our guilt in His own body through His death on the cross. The bread and the cup represent Christ’s body and blood. Believers are encouraged to come to the table in prayerful confession of sin the seeking of God’s power in their lives. Paul warns against those who would come without due preparation and therefore treat the sacrifice of Christ in an irreverent manner.{23} For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, {24} and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” {25} In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” {26} For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. {27} Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. {28} A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. {29} For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 11:23-29)
 

Benediction & Choral Response

The sharing and receiving of a blessing from the Scriptures that God’s servants have pronounced upon God’s people throughout the ages and their joyful song of acceptance.
 

Postlude

At the end of the service to conclude with a departing note of praise.

Common models of worship

  1. Entertainment – have an enjoyable time
  2. Edification – get a blessing, be moved to emotion
  3. Evangelistic – seeker oriented, for searching souls
  4. Engineer – preacher directs the workers
  5. Education – Bible instruction is the goal. *Note: all the above are acceptable if they are the result of worship and not the purpose. They are easily abused as they all can be very man centered. (But see Philippians 1:15-18)
  6. Exaltation – exalts God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and such proximity to the throne of God inevitably produces the fruit of 1-5 above.