What is Worship?
Everything we do in a Sunday gathering – the singing, the preaching, the Scripture reading, the confessions, the praying, the greetings, and all else – is part of worship, a response to who God is and what he has done for us in Christ.
As joining the life of a local church is an essential part of any Christian’s discipleship, so gathering together regularly in corporate worship is a primary aspect of our life together (Heb. 10:25).
At the center of UCC’s corporate worship is God’s Word. We read, preach, pray, sing, and see the Word through our Scripture readings, sermons, prayers, songs, and the Lord’s supper.
The centerpiece of our Sunday services is an exposition of a passage of Scripture. We believe the main diet of teaching in a local congregation should come from preaching in which the main point(s) of the sermon are grounded in the biblical text itself. While we must always apply the meaning of Scripture in our context and individual lives, preaching expository sermons through a book of the Bible ensures that God’s Word is what drives our agenda, not the interests or hobby-horses of any particular person.
In UCC services, we aim to sing songs grounded in the Word with rich theology and musical quality. Most importantly, we seek to sing lyrics that align with the truths of Scripture and are centered on God. Yet we also believe the songs should be beautiful and stir our affections for our Savior.
We sing songs written hundreds of years ago and some written days before a service. For more about musical worship, see our music page.
Lightly Liturgical Worship
We also seek to let God’s Word shape the other elements of the service besides the sermon and the music, using elements from both liturgical and free church traditions. We have Scripture readings and free-form prayers, but find great value in regularly reading aloud corporate confessions of sin and historical creeds and confessions of faith that align with the truths of Scripture.
The Gospel Pattern of Worship
At UCC, we intentionally try to shape our services with four movements: praise, renewal, proclamation, response.
This pattern comes from the Bible itself. The pattern characterizes the “covenant renewal ceremonies” in various divine encounters. Kevin DeYoung explains: “In Isaiah 6, for example, Isaiah comes before God and praises him; then he confesses sin and seeks renewal; God then speaks his word to Isaiah; and finally Isaiah responds with commitment to God.”
As you may have noticed, this is also the the shape of the gospel itself. Thus, on Sunday, we are not only explicitly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in a sentence or paragraph (or in the Lord’s Supper), but the entire service itself is shaped so that we experience the gospel.
We are weekly reminded that we are sinners with nothing to offer God, yet simultaneously completely accepted and loved in Christ. And we are then sent out anew each week as we again respond with commitment to live out in the world on mission.