If you visit with us, you will be joining with us in the most important of all human activities: the worship of the living God. It is our sincere hope and prayer that you will find your worship experience to be encouraging, challenging, and invigorating, renewing you in the knowledge of God and the wonderful hope that we have through the Gospel of Christ. Most of all, though, we hope that God will be glorified by the worship we render to him.
Even after reading this and worshiping with us (perhaps even especially after!), you may have questions about our service of worship. Our pastor would be delighted to help you come to a better understanding of our particular approach to worship, why we do this, why we don’t do that, etc… While Covenant Presbyterian Church is but a small segment of the Kingdom of Christ, and while we have much to learn about worship, we do believe that our worship has much to commend it. We hope that you will find it a fit vehicle to offer your sincere praise and heartfelt gratitude to him who alone is worthy.
Our worship at Covenant is…
All too often worship is man-centered; that is, it is overly preoccupied with our needs, our feelings, our aspirations. But since the primary purpose of worship is to give glory and honor to God, the most important thing that we could say about our worship is that it is God-centered. There is a time and a place to focus on people, to celebrate their character and accomplishments, a birthday party would be a good example. But what should be front and center in Christian worship is the radiant and glorious character of the Triune God and the greatness of his redemptive work on behalf of sinners.
We see worship as a marvelous dialogue between God and his people. As we move throughout the service, you will find it helpful to think of our alternating between God’s speaking to us and our speaking to God.
One of the basic ways to describe God’s relationship with his people is that it is a covenant, a reciprocal relationship of love and faithfulness. Another example of a covenant is marriage. And just as husband and wife may grow distant from one another and stand in need of a romantic evening in which they renew their love and affection for one another, so in worship God reaffirms his lordship and love and calls upon us to renew our allegiance to him. Worship is, quite literally, a meeting with God in which we commune with him and draw near to him, and he to us.
A common mistake is to evaluate worship purely in terms of our subjective impressions and feelings. Thus, for many people, worship is good only insofar as it makes them feel good. While not wishing to discount the importance of our subjective response, indeed it is our hope that we will be subjectively engaged in worship, we would suggest that worship is first and foremost an activity, not a feeling. “What are we doing?” is thus a more important question than “How do we feel?”
Formal and Reverent
Worship that is very informal and “loose,” while certainly making people feel at ease, has the distinct disadvantage of encouraging a light, even irreverent view of God. The Holy One of Israel, the Sovereign God is not our buddy, he is not a chum. He is majestic and glorious, and we are to rejoice with trembling in his presence. We believe that such a view of God is best encouraged by a service characterized by form, reverence, and solemn joy. While we thus run the risk of not being “upbeat” enough for some people’s tastes, we believe that we are, week in and week out, promoting a view of God which is consistent with the magnificence of his character revealed in Scripture.
Corporate and Participatory
To put it bluntly, worship is not a spectator sport, it is not entertainment. Rather, it is an activity in which God’s people actively participate together for the glory of God. Some people seem to think that worship is a stage performance with God as the prompter, the minister as the performer, and the congregation as the audience, assembled to give their nods of approval or disapproval. We would suggest the same analogy with a reversal of roles: the minister is the prompter, the congregation are the performers, and God is the audience, present to approve or disapprove. To this end, we are called as coparticipants, not spectators in the “drama” of the worship of God.
Historic and Reformed
While our ultimate authority in worship is the Word of God, we gladly stand in the tradition of the historic Christian Church and the Protestant Reformation. This link with the past bears witness to our having fellowship with the great multitude of God’s people who have gone before us and enables us to take advantage of the rich history of Christian worship.