PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3
One of the aspects of Redeemer Fellowship's elder-candidacy process is that of informal continued education. Every elder has gone through a year long process of reading, writing, and shadowing. They are not just thrown into eldership but given the opportunity to grow, ask questions, and learn. I am thankful for the privilege of being mentored by them and to have them speak into my life.
Currently I am reading The Church by Edward P. Clowney. How work has helped many churches reaffirm and focus on a proper understanding of the doctrine of the church. He encourages churches to move away from marketing and growth strategies to regain the nature and mission of the church. The church, according to Clowney, is called to serve God in three ways: directly in worship; the saints in nurture; the world in witness.
Serve Him Directly In Worship
This is seen in our Sunday Mornings. At Redeemer, we would call this the environment of The Pulpit. This is our large corporate gathering on the Lord's Day where our focus is more upward in which our focus is on the Lord. Clowney lays out two distinctions when it comes to worship: attitude and activity.
The first distinction has to do with where our hearts are at. When we arrive to worship are our hearts prepared? Are we ready to worship our God and King? Our attitude should be that of awe. Standing in amazement of our great God. Our God who came, lived a perfect life of obedience, died, was buried, resurrected, ascended, and is at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. How can we not be amazed at what God has done? How he restored us back into relationship with him? Our God is a glorious God. A glory that we do not fully see but one day will behold.
Too often I come to church "cold" where I do not take the time to prepare my heart. As is the case for other families, Sunday morning is a dash trying to get the kids feed, cleaned, dressed, in the car (often without shoes...), and into church before it begins. All of this while keeping our sanity and hopefully the kids calm. I neglect taking the time in the morning to read, pray, and study. Some practices I am trying to implement at our house to help us prepare:
- Begin Saturday night: lay out your children clothes and shoes (we are always missing shoes...). Take the time to tell your kids that we have church in the morning and why we are going. Pray with them for a good nights rest and that hearts will be ready to worship God.
- Get up early: Set your alarm, get up, grab a cup of coffee and spend time reading and praying; alone and with your family over breakfast. The more time you have in the morning the better.
As any elder would tell you, there is much that goes into a Sunday morning. There is a lot of coordinating of volunteers, making sure the sanctuary is clean, communion is set, and that everything is ready. Whatever your churches typically Sunday liturgy may be, there are three elements that should be seen in all our services.
Preaching the Word
Every Sunday should be a time for proclamation. As mentioned previously:
Through the preaching of the Word members are encouraged to abandon sin and cling to Christ. Through the preaching of the Word, members are confronted with their need of our glorious Savior. A Savior that loves and calls them to Himself. A Savior who lovingly came, lived a perfect life of obedience, suffered, died, rose, ascended, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf.
Prayer in Worship
Take time during the service to pray corporately. At Redeemer, we spend time before communion each Sunday corporately praying a prayer of confession. We pray for the offering, we pray to begin the service and we pray at the end. From start to finish we seek to press in and depend on our loving God.
Song in Worship
This is where we take the time to respond to God in song. The psalms are a great example of music being used in the corporate setting. Whether you have a band or are rocking the organ, what matters are hearts that are singing in adoration. Music can not only be a time of emotional connection, but of reflection. What we sing is just as important as how we sing. Strive to lead your people by choosing worship songs that don't just sound good, but have theological depth. Clowney writes:
Song is not only memorable but moving, expressing emotional depth as well as reflective breadth. In a passage that inspires devotion, God describes his joy over his people as that of a bridegroom singing over his bride (Zp. 3:17)
Make sure to grab The Church by Clowney. It is a must read.