What is reformed worship? Worship defines a church. It is one of the most important things a church does. It reflects God’s gracious provision for his people to have a foretaste of heaven in which they may gather around his heavenly throne by faith and praise him in the midst of the choir of angels and saints made perfect (Hebrews 12:18-24). It brings generations and cultures together to lay aside their differences and rejoice in what they have in common–Christ. Worship sets the church apart from the world as she sings songs the world does not know to a God the world refuses to know. It is nothing other than a meeting of God with his people. Worship is sacred business!
But how do we determine what we do in worship? One of the great things left to us from the protestant reformation of the 16th century is a high view of scripture. At Reformation OPC, we believe that God, through scripture, tells us how he wants us to worship him. The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) begin by telling us who God is, and what he has done for his people. Throughout scripture, worship is always a self-conscious reflection upon who God is and his mighty works of redemption in history. He is the true God who brought his people, Israel out of the bondage of Egypt, and the same God who has delivered his church from bondage in sin. The first commandment tells us not to have any gods other than him. He is not interested in a love triangle! He alone is worthy of worship. The second commandment tells us not to worship according to human invention, and that God is not pleased with false worship. Yes, God does have standards in worship, and he has made them knowable.
The idea that God tells us what he wants us to do in worship is called the regulative principle. God tells us what he wants us to do in worship either by command or clear example. At Reformation OPC, we seek to employ this principle, and have sought to make sure that everything in our worship of God is anchored in his word. After all, if the goal is to please God, who better than he can direct us how to do that, and keep us from doing things that may be pleasing to us, but not necessarily pleasing to him?
In scripture, certain patterns of worship can be discovered. For instance, we often see in worship a holy conversation between God and his people: God speaks through the reading and preaching of his word, his sacraments, his law, etc., and his people respond with praise, prayer and offerings. Thus our communion with God in worship may be simply understood as a dialogue between God and us. It’s rather beautiful to think about it that way: God is speaking to us, and we are speaking to Him. This is known as the dialogical principle. If you looked carefully at the order of worship in our bulletin, you would see that it is structured like a holy conversation between God and his people. We really believe that by faith, we are meeting with God in worship!
What about style? Unfortunately, this issue gets way too much attention. Different generations have grown up with preferences for different styles, and we tend to segregate cultures and generations along these lines. This is sad, when we consider that worship in scripture is clearly intended to bring generations and cultures together. While the Bible prescribes no fixed or permanent style, it does tell us that things should be done “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 15:40), and that worship should balance the qualities of reverence and joy. Reformation OPC has chosen a style of music that is simple and reverent, hoping to follow God’s word as he leads us to himself in worship. We have sought to remove the distractions that often cause us to focus on what other people are doing instead of what God is doing. Thus, our worship is marked by simplicity and reverence, while hopefully invoking the joy that comes from focusing on our triune God and the glory of his gospel.
Worship is one of the great privileges of the church. We should constantly seek to reform our worship according to God’s word, and to rejoice in that sacred activity which gives us a foretaste of heaven in which we shall glorify and enjoy God for all eternity. Please join us as we do so.