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Frequently asked questions

Why do we always sing a Psalm?

We include at least one psalm in every Lord’s service, because God has given us an inspired songbook to shape our souls, and has instructed us to use it as a means of being filled with both the Spirit and his Word (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19).

Why do we have the Lord’s Supper every week?

The Lord’s Supper is a neglected practice in many churches today. Like all of Christian worship, it is the fulfillment of patterns first established by God in the Old Testament—in which the pinnacle and goal of sacrifice was a meal in communion with God. To come to the temple and offer sacrifices, without them culminating in this meal, would have made no sense. Similarly, to come to the spiritual temple in worship, without consummating that worship in the Lord’s Supper, makes no sense of scripture’s patterns.

This is such an important principle that we have preached a series on the Lord’s Supper, within our larger series on worship. We encourage you to listen to these sermons:

Why do we kneel or prostrate ourselves to pray?

Body language really communicates. The posture of our hearts is connected to the posture of our bodies. If we are truly to worship God with our whole selves, then our bodies will be as involved as our spirits. In scripture, the words typically translated “worship” in both the Old and New Testaments literally mean to prostrate or bow low to the ground. This is established as a consistent pattern for all people who come into God’s presence.

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Why do we only sing traditional-sounding hymns?

Simply put, because they fit the pattern for worship laid down in scripture, while contemporary Christian worship music (CCM) does not.

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Why do we practice veiling?

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:3–16 that man is the glory of God, that woman is the glory of man, and that a woman’s hair is her own glory. Since God’s glory alone should be on display in worship, he instructs the men to uncover their heads during the Lord’s service, and women to veil theirs.

We usually have spare veils that you are welcome to borrow if you need one.

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Why do we use a traditional call-and-response liturgy?

The Bible instructs us that the church is a body and a priesthood, and so the Lord’s service should be properly corporate—that is, the people should all participate in speaking and singing as one body (Revelation 4–5; 15). Therefore, just as we use pre-written songs so that we can sing with one voice, we use pre-written responses so that we can speak with one voice also. The Bible also models how this corporate service should be structured, so that it is theologically correct and in line with God’s will.

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Why do we use the order of service that we do?

While Scripture does not give us explicit instructions for structuring our worship, it does model for us the correct sequence to follow when approaching and communing with God—along with the purpose of doing so. Because the church is the new temple of God (e.g. Eph 2:19–22; 1 Pet 2:5), her worship is a new covenant development of temple worship. The Old Testament therefore instructs us as much as the New about the key elements of worship:

  1. Call. God summons us to worship, both explicitly (Heb 10:25; 12:22–29) and by example (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor 11:24; Job 1:6; Lev 23). Therefore, the minister issues this summons to the congregation on behalf of God, reminding them of why we are gathering, and of the awe-inspiring fact that we are entering the heavenly court itself.
  2. Cleansing. Before coming into God’s presence, we must be purified (e.g., Isa 6:5–7). The sin that separates us from God must be done away with before we can be at one with him. This was the purpose of the Sin Offering that was always the first in the sequence of sacrifices under the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant, we no longer need to slaughter an animal in our stead, for Jesus has died once for all. We instead call upon him to cleanse us from sin, and to clothe us in his righteousness. Through him, we can stand before God (cf. 1 John 1:9; Zech 3:3–5).
  3. Consecration. After being cleansed, we are set apart and fitted for communion with God. This was the second sacrifice, in Hebrew the Ascension Offering (often translated as the burnt offering), where the slaughtered animal would carefully be cut up and arranged on the altar, then transformed into fire and smoke by burning it. This symbolized the worshiper being committed wholly to God, and incorporated into his glory-cloud (cf. Ex 13:22). Under the New Covenant, we are spiritually divided by the knife of the Word (Heb 4:11–12), and brought up to God by the fire of the Holy Spirit within us (cf. Acts 2:3; Matt 3:11). This is possible because Jesus has entered for us into the Most Holy Place where God’s glory-cloud resides (Heb 9:11–12; Lev 16:2).
  4. Contribution. Now the worshiper brings tribute offerings to God, consisting of the work of his hands. Under the Old Covenant, this was typically bread and wine, representing the worshiper’s contribution of his own labor to refine the resources that God had gifted him with (e.g., wheat, oil, grapes). Under the New Covenant, we bring offerings of prayers and thanksgiving.
  5. Communion. The pinnacle and ultimate purpose of worship is mutual participation with God. We become one spiritual body with him, represented in our sharing a meal: the common food symbolically builds up our different physical bodies into the same substance. This meal was the final sacrifice, the Peace Offering, where the worshiper would eat with the priests before God. Under the New Covenant, we enter into God’s heavenly temple to eat with him, and in the same way he enters into our church to eat with us (Rev 3:20). This meal is the Lord’s Supper, a memorial in which we are incorporated into God and he into us (1 Cor 10:16–18; 11:24–26), as we renew our covenant with him through Christ Jesus.
  6. Commission. In worship we enter into God’s Sabbath rest—but we do not stay there. Rather, God refreshes and equips us in order to send us out again to the weekday work he has given us: building his kingdom (Gen 1:27–28; Matt 28:18–20). At the end of the service, therefore, the minister commissions the congregation for this work on behalf of God.

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Why don’t we do online worship?

It is fundamental to a church that it gather as a single body. This is what the word church means in Greek: a congregation; i.e., a body that congregates. Hence, Hebrews 10:25 strictly forbids the “forsaking our own assembling together.” Certainly embodied gathering is what the author of Hebrews had in mind when he wrote this. Physically-isolated people, separated by miles, are not “gathering together” in any sense that the author of Hebrews would have recognized. When we view pixelated representations of each other in small boxes on a screen, and hear tinny reproductions of our voices coming out of speakers, we may be communicating in real time—but we are not with each other in real space. We are together in spirit, perhaps, but we are most certainly absent in the body.

Embodied existence is of central importance in scripture. The incarnation itself testifies to how seriously God treats this issue. If embodiment does not matter, then Jesus being incarnate in a personal body does not matter. But if embodiment does matter, then online worship is a contradiction in terms.

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