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¶710 CHRISTIAN WORSHIP

¶710 CHRISTIAN WORSHIP

The worship of God is the central activity of God’s people; the undergirding reality of all of life.
The Psalmist said, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). Worship in this life is rehearsal for the ceaseless life of worship in the world to come. In the Revelation we read, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ ” (Revelation 5:13).

The Free Methodist Church holds several core convictions about worship. These, we believe,
apply across the cultures and years, especially in services of worship. They are characteristic of
vital worship in any context (whether alone with Christ, or in small groups).

1. Worship’s Focus
In a service of worship, God is the audience, the worshipping people are all the actors, and
pastors, musicians, readers and other worship leaders are prompters, seeking to help the actors (the people) minister to the audience (God). Worship is for God!

At its heart, Christian worship is praise and thanksgiving for who God is and what God has done in Jesus Christ. In worship God’s people experience anew God’s character, creative and
redemptive activity, and promises of salvation and new creation. In Christian worship we represent the story and character of God.

Of course, worship services, though primarily directed to God and his glory, and focusing on his saving acts, can nonetheless be made friendly to persons in whom the Holy Spirit is awakening hunger for God. Vital worship can actually help draw such persons further into an encounter with the living God.

2. Balance
Vital worship is balanced, holding together the following tensions, striking both notes in a
harmonious blend.

Note: No one combination of components or styles or format will result in a balanced worship
experience for all groups of worshippers. Worship leaders in every place need to exercise great discernment in creating worship services that reflect balance and wholeness for the people involved. In contextually appropriate ways, both ends of the tensions listed above are worked into healthy worship.

Some pastors will choose to use a lectionary, (carefully planned lists of readings designed to
expose the church to the broad arcs of scripture and its teaching.) All can benefit from following the church year (at least Christmas and Easter) as means of pursuing balance and wholeness in worship.

3. Frequency
The example of almost 2000 years of walking with Jesus shows us that Christians usually plan to worship together (at least) weekly (corporately or in small groups).

4. Basic Components
Healthy worship services usually include the following components:

Singing – of songs that are full of truth (about God, his salvation and purposes, and about our
responses to him); and heartfelt, in language and modes that people can “feel” and with which they can identify.

The reading of the scriptures – (as an act of worship, not simply as a launching point for the
proclamation.) Reading the scriptures ties worship to the Biblical story of God.

Prayers – these may take the form of songs sung to God, songs in which God’s Word to us are
sung, or prayers prayed out loud or in the heart, or listening in silence to what the Spirit is saying. The prayers of vital worship will reflect a balance of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication (making requests). Well-planned worship includes all four approaches to God.

Proclamation of the scriptures – in which God’s Word is opened to our understanding and
applied to our lives. Proclamation in Free Methodist worship services will not be in contradiction of the core beliefs laid out in our “Articles of Religion” or the moral vision laid out in The Manual.

Giving an offering in which God’s people worship through a costly action, and support
Kingdom ministry.

The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Usually monthly)

The sacrament of baptism – (As needed)

Worship includes other components that help God’s people to worship him, hear his Word, and respond to his call. These may include aesthetic, creative components that enact the word of God, or depict his beauty and majesty (i.e. drama, visual displays, and other celebrative arts).

5. Resources
Abundant resources exist in books, magazines, journals and elsewhere for developing full-orbed worship theology and practice. Denominational leaders and others who demonstrate discernment and understanding regarding worship theology and practice can guide worship leaders to these resources.

Other resources may be available on The Free Methodist Church in Canada website at
www.fmcic.ca..

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