Sep 18, 2014

Thoughts on a Call to Worship

call to worship2

By , September 17, 2014 
 For most of the thirty three years I’ve been involved with Sovereign Grace churches we’ve had a fairly free and simple liturgy. Singing, welcome/announcements/offering, sermon, ministry time.
While simple liturgies have some advantages, there are good reasons to consider including liturgical elements that have been used in church gatherings for centuries. One of those is the call to worship.
I remember being less inclined to use a call to worship after reading Harold Best’s thoughts years ago in his insightful book, Music Through the Eyes of Faith:
There can only be one call to worship, and this comes at conversion, when in complete repentance we admit to worshiping falsely, trapped by the inversion and enslaved to false gods before whom we have been dying sacrifices. This call to true worship comes but once, not every Sunday, in spite of the repeated calls to worship that begin most liturgies and orders of worship. These should not be labeled calls to worship but calls to continuation of worship. We do not go to church to worship, but, already at worship, we join our brothers and sisters in continuing those actions that should have been going on – privately, familially, or even corporately – all week long.     (p. 147)
Yes, there is only one call to worship. But since we planted Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville nearly two years ago, we’ve begun each meeting with a call to worship. Why? Here’s the way we’ve thought through it as a pastoral team.

Every Beginning Says Something

There are different ways of letting people know the meeting is starting. Some churches run a countdown video. Others have the band kick in to the first song (our practice for decades). Some churches find it effective to have some kind of warm up song before the meeting actually starts. They may or may not invite the congregation to sing along. Some churches begin with a friendly welcome by a leader, and other churches open with announcements. But every beginning communicates meaning, sets an atmosphere and leads people to expect something. The church is the ekkelsia, the “called out ones.” When we gather as God’s people we are being called away from other pursuits to worship God together in a specific place and time. We can worship God indirectly as we play soccer through good sportsmanship and serving others. But we worship him more directly on Sunday mornings as we gather to sing, pray, hear God’s Word preached, and share the Lord’s supper.
A call to worship tells us the meeting has begun, but it communicates much more than that. It emphasizes the primacy of God’s Word, who has called us together, and what we’ve come to do.
The call to worship God can only come from God himself. Few things make that clearer than starting our meeting with Scripture. While we can certainly read it from our phone or iPad, it communicates something more focused and lasting when we read from a physical Bible we hold in our hands.
A call to worship reminds us that coming together isn’t our initiative. We didn’t think this up. God is the one who has called us out of the world to rehearse the gospel in his presence for his glory and our good through the power of his Spirit. That should encourage us to engage fully with God because we come by invitation, not presumption, through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.
Finally, we come together for a specific purpose. After a week when we’ve been tempted to worship money, relationships, control, sensuality, and ourselves, a call to worship God wakes us up to the fact that we are sojourners and exiles in this world (1 Peter 2:11), that there is one true God, that he deserves to be exalted in our minds, hearts and wills, that he calls us together so that we might build each other up, and that that’s what we’ve gathered to do.

Finding the Right Scriptures

We typically use verses that are brief and immediately understandable, like Ps. 111:1-2 or Ps. 95:1-3.  The Psalms are a common source for a call to worship, but we use other passages as well, including Is. 55:1; Phil. 2:9-11; Is. 35:3-6; and Lam. 3:22-23. It’s wise to use Scriptures that not only exhort us to worship God, but give a reason why. It can be helpful to briefly comment on the call to worship but it shouldn’t require a teaching. And psalms calling for judgment on the wicked may not stir your congregation to faith. The topic of the call to worship can be drawn from the previous week’s sermon/theme, point towards the message that’s going to be preached that day, or simply be a broader exhortation. We always make sure that the first song flows thematically out of the call to worship.

A Place for Variety

The call to worship can be done by a senior pastor, another pastor, or the lead musician. This past Sunday we had the whole congregation read Psalm 33:1-5. Whoever does it, it should be done confidently, passionately, and audibly. Projecting the call to worship or printing it in the bulletin can emphasize its importance. At times we’ve also had a musical call to worship, using songs like Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, 10,000 Reasons, or Praise to the Lord the Almighty that are rooted in Scripture.

What if No One is There?

A typical church has about half its members there when the meeting actually starts. We want to do everything we can to help people see that both the church and they themselves are affected negatively when they’re not present at the call to worship. Regular reminders can help, whether from the lead musician, service leader, or pastor. We’ll also typically have the band play briefly before the actual call to worship, just to alert people that the meeting is about to start.
It can take time to help people see the importance of being there at the start of the meeting, but it’s worth the effort. Every moment God’s people gather together in his presence can be of eternal significance. Let’s not waste them.

Sep 14, 2014

The Lord's Day, September 14, 2014

During this morning's service, the Addition to our Constitution
was brought to a vote and we had a unanimous "Aye" by the members
to accept this proposal.  It is written below:
Proposed Addition to the Church Constitution
by the Membership of Grace Bible Church of Southgate
September 14, 2014
Concerning Marriage
Singleness and marriage are both gifts from God given for His glory, the advancement of the Kingdom, and the blessing of the church.  The gift of singleness is a special blessing that not all receive. Marriage is also part of God's plan for creation, and was celebrated and affirmed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ while on earth. God designed marriage for the bearing and raising of children; the life-long companionship, growth, and mutual partnership of a man and a woman; complementing each other, and enjoying God's gifts of sexual fulfillment, family life, and mutual love. (1 Corinthians 7:6-9; Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:31; John 2:1-11; Matthew 19:6; Malachi 2:15; 1 Corinthians 7:3-5; Psalm 127:3; 1 Peter 3:7; Ecclesiastes 9:9; Ephesians 5:25; Titus 2:4)
In addition to these temporal blessings, marriage is a covenant relationship between man, woman, and God. In marriage, the man and the woman are united into a "one-flesh" union, representing the mystery of the union between Christ and His Church. Christians are therefore only to marry other Christians. (Malachi 2:14; Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14)
God has established marriage as a faithful, heterosexual union between one genetic male and one genetic female. Sexual conduct outside of the bonds of marriage is sin. This includes lust, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, incest, and bestiality, all of which God specifically condemns. (Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 5:28; Exodus 20:14; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Romans 1:26-27; Leviticus 18)
God intends marriage to last until physical death. There is to be no divorce, except in the case of sexual immortality or the desertion of an unbelieving spouse. Although divorce is permitted in the case of sexual immortality, believers are commanded to seek reconciliation and to forgive the repentant sinning spouse. In the case of a spiritually mixed marriage, the believer is not to initiate divorce except in the case of sexual immortality. However, if an unbelieving spouse initiates divorce, the believer is free from the marriage bond. (Matthew 19:4-9; Matthew 5:32; Matthew 18:22-22; Malachi 2:16; 1 Corinthians 7:15)
Concerning Human Sexuality
God created human beings as male and female. These complementary gender identities reflect the created order intended and instituted by God. It is God who establishes the gender of each person for His own purposes, each with particular gifts and responsibilities. Therefore, claims of innate sexual confusion are false, and attempts to obscure, change, or subvert one's gender identity, such as transvestism, sex change operations, etc., are a form of rebellion against God, the Creator. (Genesis 1:27; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 11:3-15; Deuteronomy 22:5)
Temptation, including sexual temptation, is not sin. Sin is yielding to temptation. Jesus was tempted, yet without sin. God offers forgiveness, redemption, and restoration to all sinners who believe the Gospel, confess and forsake their sin, and seek mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ alone. (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15; James 1:14-15; John 3:16-18; Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 4:20-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Titus 2:11-13)
Declaring God's Word warning people of the temporal and eternal consequences of their sins, including sexual perversions, is an act of loving concern. God's Word remains true and His prohibitions, including those on sexual perversions and immoralities, cannot be changed or amended thought consensus or by any human authority. (1 Corinthians 1:21; Isaiah 40:8)
As sinners saved by grace, we humbly proclaim these truths, in light of God's teaching that all people are made in His image and are due compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. Hateful or harassing behavior, speech, or attitudes directed toward any individual are not in accord with the example of Christ, the teaching of the Scriptures, or the doctrines of this church. (Ephesians 2:8; Genesis 1:27; 1 John 4:7; Matthew 22:26-39; Philippians 2:3-4)

Sep 3, 2014

Amazing Grace Ladies Breakfast

It's that time again!
Amazing Grace Ladies Breakfast
Sept. 27 at 9:30 a.m.
Little Daddy's Restaurant
22250 Eureka Rd, Taylor, MI 48180
(734) 287-8600
Everyone invited!
Please contact Marianne Ashby
to let her know you'll be coming.
We look forward to seeing you there!