The Shape of Worship

A Summer Sermon Series on the Values and Practices of Worship

Several years ago, the Third Worship Committee, made up of elders, worship staff, and contemporary and traditional worshippers, and led by retired Head Pastor Steve Hartman, began a journey of crafting new worship values that should guide our church’s worship practices. They wanted any changes they proposed to be girded up by deep biblical and theological values that shape our life together. More than two years ago, they came up with the wonderful values listed below--guidelines that have been helping us pay close attention to how we worship together, and most recently, that shaped the Worship Committee's proposal for our upcoming worship change. 

FAITHFUL - Our worship should be a worthy offering to God made in grace-enabled gratitude.

  • Gospel-Centered Worship – focusing relentlessly on Christ and his saving grace from start to finish; maintaining a consistent worship order that reflects the pattern of the gospel, i.e.: gathering/confession/ assurance /proclamation/response/sending; preaching messages centered on Christ and the gospel
  • Spirit-Led Worship – drawing inspiration from prayer and dependence on God’s Spirit, maintaining technical excellence without stifling spontaneity and freedom in worship; ensuring that worship is informed and directed by Scripture in all parts
  • Excellent Worship – cultivating musical and artistic excellence; working hard in preparation and practice; identifying and developing worship leaders with particular attention to their unique spiritual gifts and talents

INTEGRAL - Our worship should unite the body of Christ at Third by drawing on our different experiences and talents.

  • United Worship – reflecting a strong concern for the unity of the body; seeking to build common themes and liturgies across services
  • Intergenerational Worship – exploring ways to bring adults, children, teens, and different generations together, especially during Sunday worship
  • Congregational Worship – involving all participants fully in worship through singable music, frequent testimonies, lay leadership, incorporation of children and youth, and similar elements

ROOTED - Our worship should draw on the full bounty of the Church’s worship practices, across time and culture.

  • Ancient/Future Worship – utilizing worship resources from the early church and our Reformed heritage; honoring the best of traditional and contemporary worship practices; incorporating new practices that are biblically informed
  • Global Worship – considering how to honor people of diverse cultural tastes as we offer our worship to God; balancing a clear sense of our identity and heritage with the knowledge that God’s Church is much bigger than contemporary American evangelicals

MISSIONAL - Our worship should offer a compelling alternative vision to the watching world.

  • Missional Worship – keeping in mind the people and cultures around us who are not yet among us; explaining our liturgy to make it more understandable; preaching messages that take for granted the presence of non-Christians and frequently, yet winsomely, call for conversion
  • Welcoming Worship – fostering a spirit of hospitality in our gatherings
  • Compassionate Worship – keeping in view the world and its need in our worship; sending the members of the body out into mission; interceding for the needs of the world; embodying concerns for justice and mercy in the worship practices we use

Beginning June 7th and running through the summer until September 7th, Corey Widmer will be leading us through a preaching series called “The Shape of Worship,” drawing from these values and exploring the history and meaning of the elements of historic Christian worship. We'll dive into the truth that Worship is not just a weekly time to get spiritually energized and to express our praise to God, but an immensely important time of spiritual formation: what we do in worship, week by week, shapes our identity as God’s distinct people who live by a different set of practices and rhythms. These worship practices do not just form us on Sundays during the hour long service — they also shape us for how we live as God’s people every day in the world. 

Our series begins this Sunday, June 7th, and you can sign up for Corey's weekly e-mail giving the Scripture texts and guides for meditation as we prepare to gather together each week.

For more on how our new worship schedule reflects these values, click the image below.