"Why do you worship the way you do?" "Why is the service so formal?" "Why don't you have any contemporary services or modern songs?"
Many congregations have opted for "seeker-friendly" and entertainment-based services. But not us. We know that a formal, traditional, and structured service is uncommon. We also know that it’s complex, requires time to study and learn, and is not readily understood by first-time visitors. Like all people, we had to learn the formality, structure, and order of the liturgy. And we found that what was most challenging was also the most beautiful. We genuinely believe that if you take the Bible seriously and truly consider the liturgy, you will love it and find great comfort in the service. Our liturgical service is a treasure of God's Word. But to understand why the service is the way it is, we must first explain what the Bible says about church.
When we come together for church, Jesus promised He would be with us: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them" (Matthew 18:20). He’s not with us in symbols or memories only; He’s truly present with us.Not only is Jesus with us, but He comes to serve us: "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). And just as that’s true for His first coming, it’s true of His every coming. Whenever God is with us, He serves us. He forgives, blesses, comforts, washes, feeds, redeems, the sanctifies. He does all of the work, and not us. If God ever needed something, we couldn’t help Him (see Psalm 50)! So, the main focus of the service, like in all facets of life, is not in giving anything to God but in receiving everything from Him.
In church, we acknowledge all of God’s gifts. We thank Him for our daily bread, life, movement, and existence. Throughout the year, we thank Him for everything. But every Sunday, we thank God for one thing above all things—The bitter suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. This is the center of the Church, the center of our preaching. St. Paul says, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). Again, St. Paul says, "We preach Christ crucified" (1 Corinthians 1:23). Christ's death and resurrection is the chief topic of every sermon, hymn, and service! His death and resurrection is the Gift by which we have all other gifts, both spiritual and physical. So, not one Sunday passes by that we do not adore the Lord for what He did for us on the cross. Even more, we’re not simply remembering what He did. When we apprehend His Word through faith, we receive what He did. He imputes His righteousness to us through His Word. God is with us in church to forgive, console, and make us His own.
Because God’s work in Christ is central to the church, we worship the way we do. The Bible brings Christ and His salvation to us (John 6:68; John 20:31; 1 John 5:13; 2 Timothy 3:16). We fill the service with Bible verses. The words of the service come straight from Holy Scripture: Invocation (Matthew 28), the Kyrie (Psalm 123; Luke 17), the Gloria in Excelsis (Luke 2), the Sanctus (Isaiah 6), the Agnus Dei (John 1), the Verba Domini (Matthew, Mark, Luke, 1 Corinthians), the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6), the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2), the Aaronic Benediction (Numbers 6). In addition to that, we also read from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles, and the Gospels every Sunday.
That is why we behave reverently in the service. We believe that there is a time for everything: a time to be formal and a time to be informal. And informality has its place. But Church is not the place to be casual and laid back. Hebrews 12:28 says, “Worship God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” Everything is formal, planned, and deliberate: God Himself is present. It’s why we dress modestly and well. It’s why the pastor hides himself in vestments adorned with symbols of Christ. It’s why we stand, sit, and kneel at certain times. We take God’s Word seriously and will never try to mimic the world or bring in the culture’s music or style. Our reverence is driven directly by our conviction that God Himself is present in His risen Body and Blood for us. The service isn’t about our preference but about reverence.
And in response to all of this, we sing. Psalm 59:16 says, “I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.” Again, Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…singing psalms and hymns and songs of the Spirit.” In response to God’s presence, we are reverent. And in response to God’s forgiveness and comfort, we sing for joy. That is why our service is filled with so much singing.
We sincerely believe all those who study what Scripture says about worship and who also consider the liturgical service will love it and find it their greatest treasure.
—R. E. Rojas, Jr.