“We believe that the worship of our Triune God is our greatest duty and highest privilege. Thus, public worship on the Lord’s Day is the central activity of the life of this church.”
A number of different adjectives can be used to describe our worship services:
God-centered: The purpose of worship is not to entertain man but to glorify God. God is our audience, not man. Thus, every element of worship is focused upon him. Ps. 96:6,7 “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”
Reverent: Worship is not a time for a few light-hearted jokes and a “good time.” Rather, our attitude in worship should be determined by the majesty and holiness of the God before whom we appear. Heb. 12:28,29 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire.”
Joyful: God, in his grace, has forgiven our sins, made us his adopted children, and given us new hearts so that we might love and serve him. We didn’t deserve any of this! It is his free gift. How can our hearts not brim over with joy as we worship? Ps. 103:1-5 “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all you diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your youth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Simple: Old Testament worship contained many elaborate ceremonies that pointed forward to Christ. But now that Christ has come and fulfilled those ceremonies, we worship God in the simple way designated in the New Testament: the reading and preaching of the Scriptures, prayer, the singing of psalms and hymns, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and offerings. This is called the Regulative Principle of Worship: there must be biblical warrant for everything we do in worship. Other man-made forms of worship tend to obscure Christ rather than glorify him. God knows how he wants to be worshipped.
Word-filled: Every element of worship, whether it is preaching, praying, or singing, is filled with Scripture. Why? Because God has revealed himself in the Bible.
The order that we use for worship is as follows:
- Call to Worship: The elder leading worship reads a Scripture passage in which God calls upon us to worship him.
- Hymn of Adoration: God’s people respond by singing a hymn or a psalm that adores God for who he is and what he has done.
- Prayer of Adoration and Invocation: The elder leads the congregation in a prayer which focuses on praising God and asking God to be present in this worship service.
- Scripture Reading: A passage of Scripture is read. We read consecutively through books of the Bible, usually going through a New Testament book in the morning and an Old Testament book in the evening, or vice versa. The elder prefaces the reading with a few sentences explaining the context of the passage and making one or two applications.
- Confession of Faith: The congregation confesses its faith in unison by repeating either the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, or some portion of the Westminster Standards.
- Offering: Part of Christian worship is giving back to God a portion of the material goods that he has given us.
- Pastoral Prayer: The pastor leads the congregation in a full-orbed prayer, involving praise, confession of sin, thanksgiving for mercies, petitions, and supplications. In this prayer we focus upon kingdom concerns.
- Hymn: This hymn or psalm immediately precedes the Scripture reading and sermon, and will often contain the same themes that the sermon will address.
- Scripture Reading: This reading of God’s Word forms the basis for the morning sermon.
- Sermon: The preaching of God’s Word is expository (it is based upon and seeks to explain a portion of God’s Word) and applicatory (it addresses the congregation directly and challenges them to respond to God’s Word in how they think or live). We take the preaching of God’s Word very seriously at Pinehaven. The consistent, straightforward proclamation of God’s Word is the central activity of the worship service.
- Hymn of Response: The congregation sings this hymn or psalm to corporately respond to God’s Word preached.
- Benediction: The pastor is God’s agent in pronouncing a blessing upon the congregation, which Pastor Hill does in the words of II Cor. 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
- Doxology: As the final act of worship, the congregation thanks God by singing to him this short, ancient hymn of praise.
Evening Worship (same elements as morning worship; slightly different order)
- Call to Worship
- Hymn of Adoration
- Prayer of Adoration and Invocation
- Hymn of the Month (we learn a different hymn or psalm together every month, and sing it every Lord’s Day that month)
- Scripture Reading
- Pastoral Prayer (a ruling elder leads us in our evening prayer)
- Scripture Reading
- Hymn of Response
- Gloria Patri
We also practice the two sacraments that Christ instituted for the church:
Baptism: Baptism is the sacrament of initiation into the covenant people of God. One of the best definitions of baptism is found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism #94: “Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.” Because the covenant promise is to us and our children (Gen. 17:7), we baptize both adults who profess faith in Christ and their children.
The Lord’s Supper: Sometimes called Communion, or the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper is the sacrament of continuing fellowship with the Lord. Again, we look to the Westminster Shorter Catechism to define it, in #96: “The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.” Since one of the requirements for taking the Supper is that a man “examine himself” (I Cor. 11:28), we only invite to the table those who have repented of their sins, have faith in Christ, and have made public profession of their faith before the church (i.e. have become a communicant member of a church where the gospel of Christ is preached). At Pinehaven, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper during the morning service on the second Lord’s Day of each month.
In our singing at Pinehaven, we use the following:
- Trinity Psalter Hymnal (www.trinitypsalterhymnal.org/)
- Hymns for a Modern Reformation